We start the drive video review asking a serious question: does this Euro Infiniti QX30 belong in the USA?
This baby Infiniti has two variants on sale in America: the crossover-ish QX30 and QX30 AWD. Then there is the wild cousin: the QX30 Sport. Lowered ride height. Performance mods and gloss black finishes galore. Stance to make the most of the double-clutch automatic and turbo motor from Mercedes-Benz.
Premium compact five-doors are big business on the continent. Instead of trading up to a sedan after the Golf/Focus class, owners will shell out big cash to get into the A3, 1 series and A-Class.
They bring a far better drive experience, upscale cabins and hefty amount of badge prestige. Perhaps building loyalty with luxury-car buyers of tomorrow at the same time.
In the USA, however, those main rivals are notably absent in five-door hatchback form.
QX30 then rivals Mini Cooper Countryman, Audi Q3 and its platform sibling the Mercedes GLA250 here in America.
Long story short, the QX30S is a secret sports-car hero in the Infiniti lineup.
Its sexy exterior and rooty-tooty turbo power make up for a slightly tiny cabin and cargo area.
Pricing from $40k also puts the VW Golf R in the competitive set.
Whatever the case, we found a dozen plus great reasons QX30S should be on your entry-premium/sports shopping list. Right here in the USA.
HD Drive Review
Infiniti really went to town on the redesign of the GLA250. Giving this car next-gen Infiniti lines changes the proportions of the vehicle versus the Benz brother. Best known is the sharp, slowing pinch of steel that moves from the front fenders and toward the rear axle. A deep scallop in the lower bodywork risies from the front axle to meet the top beltline. It is a very avant-garde design expression and the QX30 wears it beautifully.
Then this QX30S comes into view. It loses the nerdy tallness of the AWD model’s ride height and plastic cladding. In its place are body-colored bumpers with unique LED foglamps, a color-matched side sill and gloss black to wrap the inner grille, fender edges and rear diffuser.
Slam the stance to the ground with sport springs. Give it 19-inch gunmetal alloys and sport summer runflats. Cross-drilled rotors and Infiniti branded brake calipers?! Yes indeed.
Dual gloss black exhausts in black are wide rectangles. Proud of the CO2 emissions!
QX30S takes B-minus design appeal of the normal QX30 (to our eyes) and gives it a solid A. Both better than the C-D score we’d give the gigantic lamps of the Mercedes-Benz GLA250.
QX30S makes its nose an event. Super wide grille echoes the Q60 Coupe beautifully. This design hides the front overhang nicely. A super tapered rear end is designer grade lovely, too.
The tumblehome is extreme: from the edges of the roof down the sides, there is a ton of metal before the fender edge. Makes for a taut, tailored look.
Shapely horizontal brake lights with matching LED swirl graphics are cool and very unique on the road.
We liked the design before. But driving this plucky machine hard is what made us start to love its haute looks too.
Honesty time: were you a little confused by the QX30’s origin story? You are not going to like this next part.
QX30S is made of…: Mercedes-Benz platform, engines and most cabin elements. Infiniti design outside, and for the upper interior. I’ll admit it is as confusing to experience as to describe here.
What do we mean? Well, Infiniti is the source of the Nav and infotainment. Also the upper leather dashboard swirls and contrast stitching.
But Mercedes takes over for the shifter, drive modes, seats and gauge cluster. The very good adaptive cruise option? From Mercedes stalk controls.
The steering wheel is perhaps the wildest. Infiniti logo and design in center, but Mercedes rim and button controls.
Sharing does have benefits, though. The AMG style one-piece bucket seatbacks are actually pretty comfortable and supportive. For average Americans. The black alcantara suede for the headliner is a racy touch. It is a fixed glass roof, but with power sunshade.
Super premium and lux build quality and material feel. But no proximity key or push-button start.
In the good-news bad-news department, we have to say the front seating area feels decently big. The back seats are ok on legroom but very, very tight on head and shoulder roominess. It is small back there. The cargo hold is also bit-sized, albeit impeccably finished with a tight privacy shade included. Euro-tastic!
Folding seats make for a practical overall shape in QX30S. But space is definitely not anywhere near BMW X1. Think Mini Clubman size. The new, wide one.
Is the cabin a yay or a nay?
On design and feel, it is a yay. On standard equipment and coherence of luxury brand experience? Nay sadly. This QX30S tester added $1500 for the sport leather seats and suede roof. Nav is mercifully provided standard, but $465 needed for LED sill plates. $1200 for the Sport tech package with blind sport, lane warning, adaptive cruise and auto highbeams.
Oh, the performance! The way the QX30S attacks corners is what makes us love everything else about it. Starting from a stellar drive position tucked tight into the sport buckets, you set off and love the Mercedes double-clutch instantly. In normal mode it’s flawlessly smooth and relaxed. But ready for action.
In Sport, the DCT goes ballistic race-crazy awesome. It is always coiled like a snake with the next gear to swap in. Smooth, impact-free upshifts make the 2.0-liter turbo four slug high above its weight.
208HP and 258 pound-feet of torque really do not sound like much on paper. But trust me, with a 6.2-second sprint time, this QX30S feels quicker than a Golf GTI. This powertrain is a dream at all times. Check the video for bumper-cam intro sounds of the unit at full throttle!
Then come some corners. Tap the sport brakes and shed a few MPH. For balance mostly, as the 19-inch 235/45 tires have oodles of grip.
The front end slugs apexes and the rear hangs on gamely, leaning into corners and letting you chuck QX30S by the scruff of its next. So much fun.
Only gripe with the drivetrain is a fairly small fuel tank. Not a big deal with 24/33 EPA MPGs. But those plummit with a heavy foot. Worth it!
Lastly, QX30S also does something with its DCT like a pro: lets you launch the car! No electronic throttle kill is one of many reasons QX30S is such a thrill to drive.
Beyond the cabin options, this tester added the critical Sport LED package for LED low and high beams with cornering functionality. LED cabin lighting comes along with the option’s $1500 price.
LED DRLs and LED brake lights appear to be standard on QX30S from its $38,500 base price. With options and delivery, QX30S stickers at $43,660.
QX30S really is a PRO in every way. This is a new market segment for Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz. And even for this sportified QX30 Sport model. You could understand them having trouble making truly premium-grade compact, front-drive cars. In the end, they aced it.
The way this Infiniti drives proves that luxury-car engineering and handling expertise is worth the extra cash to own.
That makes sense in the USA as much as anywhere else!
Give QX30S a shot – you might thank me.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.