The QX30 is a stylish little Infiniti crossover. Or, is it? Beneath the flowing chiseled bodywork are the bones and powertrain of the Mercedes-Benz GLA. That’s a good start, because despite a few quirks and princely price tag, it’s a nice little Infinedes.
My co-worker thinks the bodywork is “God-awful ugly,” but he’s in the minority. A low roof and high ground clearance give the baby crosser interesting proportions, but the deftly stamped sheetmetal is pure artistry. Designers specified LEDs for curve-following headlamps, running lights, and foglamps. Roof rails and puddle lamps add class. Put it all over 18-inch alloy wheels for that jacked-up, off-road facade.
While off-road capability is more drag than actuality, the interior is legitimately luxurious. It’s small, especially in the back seat, but stacked with brown Nappa leather seats and dash insert, genuine wood on the center stack and doors, black suede headliner, and LED ambient lighting. Seats are heated, wipers sense rain, and the panoramic sunroof lets light shine in. Dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-speakers of Bose audio, and illuminated kick plates kick it up.
True to its luxury aspirations, the QX30 conjures a world of electronics. Bluetooth, USB, and voice control for the infotainment system cover the basics. Safety is paid up with a rearview camera, blind spot warning, lane departure alert, forward emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control that keeps a safe distance on the highway. Navigation plots a quick course, but the Infiniti InTouch joywheel and screen are utterly frustrating, requiring holy intervention to figure out how to use them. It’s like “The Three Seashells”. Good luck tuning the radio.
Stepping on the throttle won’t enflame your hairspray, but the Mercedes-sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers a spirited 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque to the all-wheel-drive system through a 7-speed automatic transmission. Sport mode makes the throttle more sensitive; Eco mode does the opposite. Put it in Manual mode to flip little paddles yourself. Drive sensibly to see 21/30-MPG city/hwy.
Mercedes DNA seeps out when putting the QX30 down the road. It rides on front-drive architecture with all-wheel-drive, but behaves more like larger Mercedes. It feels heavy underway and glides over rough pavement. A compact car with big wheels will never drive like an S-Class, but toss it into a corner or shoot it down the expressway, and it is convincing -- a nice car for urban driving while possessing comforts for long-distance touring.
It’s not perfect. The cabin is cramped, I could hear the fan annoyingly buzzing in the right air vent, and the cursed infotainment system should be keel-hauled. Rear luggage space is severely limited compared to competitors like the BMW X1, Lincoln MKC, or new Jeep Compass. But, on the plus side, wood looks like it came from a vintage Mercedes, seats are comfy, and the interior materials are first rate. I enjoyed driving it.
Here’s the one final drop on this fashion parade: You can buy the little Infiniti for as little as $29,950, but our loaded test model came to, um, $46,035. At that price, you can buy a larger Mercedes GLC, Acura RDX, or BMW X3 – not to mention a maxed-out Subaru Outback for thousands less. But, if you want an urban-friendly fashion-setter with all of life’s luxuries, you could do far worse than the Infiniti with a Mercedes soul.
2017 Infiniti QX30
- Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 208hp 2.0-liter Turbo-4, 7-speed auto trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 18”/18” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Comfort, Quality
- Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Sunderland, UK
- Base/as-tested price: $29,050/46,035