Well this looks familiar. The shifter, buttons, signal stalk, steering wheel, gauges, even the keyfob is Mercedes-Benz. So what in god’s name is an Infiniti badge doing on the front end? Well apparently it’s no joke, and this is actually a real model.
In an effort to fill in the gaps in the Infiniti lineup, the Japanese automaker needed a compact crossover that could compete against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. They turned to Mercedes-Benz for help and in collaboration, have spawned the Infiniti QX30, essentially a GLA 250 with a Japanese touch.
The GLA may have been introduced to the market first, but the new QX30 is a still a refreshing sight. It’s got the bones of a GLA but the execution is more Gundam than it is Teutonic sausage. The QX30 has got Infiniti’s distinctive front grill, squinty LED headlights, and a hunched rear end. It looks more off-roady as well with black cladded wheel arches like a Volvo Cross Country and impressive ground clearance.
The QX30 uses the same engine, transmission, platform, all-wheel drive system, and interior buttons and knobs as its GLA counterpart. That means under the hood is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 208 hp and 258 lb-ft through a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.
There are three available trims: QX30 ($35,990), QX30 AWD ($38,490), and QX30 Sport ($46,490). As you can see, all-wheel drive is only available on one trim, which is also expected to be the volume seller in Canadian markets (GLA is all-wheel drive only at $38,000). The other two trims run power to the front wheels exclusively.
The AWD model sits 3 cm higher than the base model, contributing to a slightly (but noticeably) higher seating position, which also makes ingress easier but a bit of a challenge to avoid hitting your head on the narrow doorframe. The AWD model also gets distinctive roof rails, unique 19-inch wheels, and a slightly stiffer suspension setup.
The Sport model on the other hand sits a little lower (1.5 cm lower than the base to be exact) and comes with 19-inch wheels, sport seats with integrated headrests, a different front and rear fascia, gloss black grille, cross-drilled front brake rotors, LED headlamps, and is even stiffer than the AWD variant.
The QX30 doesn’t make for an invigorating drive, nor does it stimulate the senses, but that’s not exactly what these entry-level crossover buyers are looking for, are they? The QX30 instead is confident, luxurious, and capable. The engine has good punch at the mid-to-high range, but lethargic when the boost hasn’t quite kicked in at lower rpms. Put it this way, if you need to overtake a vehicle, don’t go easy on the gas pedal.
The QX30 is more of a tall hatchback than an actual crossover, and you can definitely feel it when you fling it hard around the bends. There’s lots of body roll with only moderate understeer. The AWD system works well here to shuffle torque to the correct wheels, and even during Toronto’s first snowfall last week, the QX30 trekked through the snow covered roads without breaking a sweat.
The QX30’s steering is fairly responsive. The ratios are quick, leading to fast responses on turn-in, though what comes after is numbed feedback. What does it feel like? Rather than rowing an oar against the ocean’s changing currents, it’s like churning a bowl of mashed potato. There isn’t much feeling, and it mars what is otherwise an engaging and responsive steering rack.
Whereas the exterior is distinctively Infiniti, the interior is where remnants of the Daimler relationship begin to show. The switches, knobs, steering wheel, and even the center gear shifter are all plucked straight from the GLA. Infiniti has done a nice job of cleaning it all up though with its own unique touch.
You remember that horrid pop-up infotainment display screen in the GLA? Yeah, Infiniti got rid of that and used their own screen that is better integrated into the dash. The center stack is also uniquely arranged with flatter panels and a mix of quality feeling materials. Infiniti used their own seats too – they’re plump and just as comfortable as the Benzo.
Front occupants will have no complaints of headroom, though the narrow front and rear windshields can pose a bit of a visibility problem. The B-pillars are also incredibly thick, hiding blind spots, but there’s nothing that the blind spot monitor cannot fix. One benefit is that Infiniti has fitted their Around View Monitor camera system into the QX30, a feature that the GLA does not have. This gives drivers a clear 360-degree view around the vehicle, offering OCD drivers an easier time parking straight between the lines. The QX30 also gets a panoramic roof but oddly enough, it is fixed and does not open, even though the one in the GLA does.
Headroom from the back seats is actually quite good for a compact crossover with a sloping roof, but it’s the legroom that falls short for a six-foot passenger. Trunk space is average for the segment, with just enough room to fit two suitcases and a bag or two. If you plan on fully loading up your crossover with passengers and cargo on a full-time basis, best to look at a larger crossover like the QX50.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call the Infiniti QX30 a copycat or an imposter of the GLA 250, but I know many naysayers in the public will. I actually like Infiniti’s take on the compact crossover better, and is the more attractive twin that emerged from the German-Japanese collaboration.
Though more radically styled, I think it’s much better looking. Mixed children always look better don’t they? The flared grill and curvy C-pillar accents are a neat touch, and the interior has a better layout and design. It feels more luxurious than an Audi Q3, but it has a smaller footprint and it definitely feels so when sitting inside.
We also give it the nod for its decent powertrain, high seating position, and sure-footed all-wheel drive system. No, Infiniti does not have the same pedigree and fame as the three-pointed star, but if you asked me which entry-level luxury crossover I would choose, this Gundam-styled QX30 would be my pick of the litter.