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2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport and QX30 AWD: First Drive Review

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author photo by Mark Elias July 2016

Collaborations between two companies use expertise from both sides to achieve the best possible outcome at a reasonable price. The 2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport and QX30 AWD (short for all-wheel drive) crossover vehicles are perfect examples of such a partnership, with Infiniti utilizing designs and technology from Daimler. Sized just right, it could be the perfect fit for an urban dweller in Seattle, Chicago or your own hometown.

Infiniti showed us the fruits of this merger in the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle, home to Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and Starbucks. The automaker provided proper insight into this new crossover's capabilities.

A World Car

The 2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport and QX30 AWD are C-segment crossover vehicles perfect for around-town living and occasional, gentle off-roading. Designed for the North American, European and Chinese markets, the twin QX30s take inspiration from the Infiniti Etherea concept vehicle, featuring a stylish turn on a familiar 2-box design that should appeal to most global tastes. The QX30 positions itself between Infiniti coupes and sedans on one side and the brand's sport utility vehicles on the other.

Crisp, muscular sides create a strong exterior look for this new Infiniti. Built in Sunderland, England, it features flowing lines, an elevated stance and confident looks that are all part of the design ethos of this new crossover. Think of the exterior as a close-fitting muscle shirt that lets you see whether the wearer is sporting a 6-pack or not.

The 2017 Infiniti QX30 is powered exclusively in North America by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque available at a barely breathing 1,200 rpm. Developed by Daimler, this power plant also finds its way into the Mercedes-Benz GLA and CLA vehicles. Before being shoehorned under the aluminum hood of the QX30, Infiniti engineers tweaked the engine further, with tuning cues familiar to customers of Nissan's luxury brand.

The QX30 comes standard with a Daimler 7-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission that has been further optimized by Infiniti engineers. The dual-clutch system preloads the next gear for an almost seamless gear change without so-called shift shock, creating a smoother, more enjoyable ride. In the base version, this gearbox sends power from the turbo 4-cylinder to the front wheels. The AWD version sends up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels, gradually shifting the power back to the front wheels once cruising speed has been achieved.

Speaking of ride, the new smallest Infiniti utilizes a MacPherson strut front end and brings up the rear with a multilink kit. Steering comes from an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion setup.

The QX30 will be available in standard front-wheel drive or optional AWD versions. There are six possible configurations, including the base QX30 (starting at $29,950), QX30 Luxury, QX30 Premium, QX30 Sport ($42,100 with a moonroof, navigation and leather), QX30 Luxury AWD and QX30 Premium AWD ($39,550 with navigation and a moonroof). The destination fee of $950 is not included in the starting price. A diesel-based powertrain will be available in the European market.

The QX30 has been developed to compete with its distant cousin, the Mercedes-Benz GLA, as well as Audi's Q3 and BMW's X1.

Ground clearances vary according to the trim level, with the Sport version and its 19-inch tires riding 0.6 inches lower than the 6.7-in ride height of the base model. Conversely, the AWD version sits up 1.2 inches higher. Both base and AWD versions are outfitted with 18-in tires.

An Inward Look

The Infiniti QX30 features a drivercentric cockpit/dashboard arrangement that is more fully realized than the one found in the Mercedes GLA. The QX takes advantage of Nissan and Infiniti's seating expertise to provide a zero-gravity feel, with spinal support to ease pressure points for the driver and front passenger. Some may find access to the cabin tight, but there's an available entry/exit feature that makes it a bit easier. Rear-seat legroom may be challenging for full-size adults sitting behind long-legged front-seat occupants. Truth be told, the front row is where most will want to be. We actually think this urban-oriented crossover is better suited to a couple with a small pup or two rather than a family of four. Fold the rear seats forward, and you can easily stash your things for a full weekend road trip.

The interior controls are more refined with each successive generation of Infiniti vehicles. Now operated by a console-mounted controller, the navigation and audio-system controls are more intuitive and not such a far reach as those found in previous models. Even though the QX30 shares some of its interior controls with Daimler-made vehicles, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel and various switches, designers have gone to great lengths to differentiate between the Infiniti and Mercedes cabins. The QX30 features an integrated 7-in display monitor that's different from the 7-in display found in the GLA, which appears as though designers tried to attach an iPad-style tablet to the top of the dash as an afterthought. Instead, we find a well-placed display that resides under the bonnet of a curvy piece of dashboard, acting as a sunshade on extremely bright days. The entire cabin can be enhanced with the addition of available open-pored wood trim.

The QX's base interior is covered in synthetic Fibertech material, while optional packages include leather accenting, as well as a full sport leather interior complete with contrasting red stitching.

Infiniti claims that this 3,407-lb 5-seater accommodates 19.2 cu ft. of cargo in the rear compartment. Drop the rear seat, and that figure swells to nearly 90 cu ft.

Optional trim packages include a QX30 Sport Leather kit, a Gallery White theme, a Cafe Teak theme, a wood interior package and 19-in wheels.

Available Infiniti driver-assistance technologies can also be part of the package. These include front and rear parking sensors, moving-object detection, intelligent park assist and Infiniti's Around View Monitor system, with cameras that stitch together a bird's-eye view from above. Also available are forward-emergency braking, forward-collision warning, intelligent cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system and lane-departure warning.

Behind the Wheel

This newest Infiniti is powered by the same 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder engine found in the Mercedes-Benz GLA and CLA. Thanks to tweaking by company engineers, the QX30 now offers a more distinct ride than German examples.

We compared the front-drive Sport model to the AWD version, which we think is the better of the two. Buyers get the best of Infiniti's front-wheel-drive and AWD worlds with a powertrain that will take you almost anywhere you want to go.

The 2.0-liter engine offers plenty of get-up-and-go, just as we've seen with its German cousin. It may take 6.4 seconds to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour, but it's also a quick-move artist on the fly, able to pass slower-moving traffic with ease and limited passing distance.

When discussing the QX30 Sport and the QX30 AWD versions, it clearly comes down to a choice of powertrains. The QX30 Sport front-driver rides on 19-in low-profile run-flat tires. Grippier tires of this type tend to transmit more road noise, depending on pavement surfaces. On the coarse aggregate found in the Pacific Northwest, we were visited by a low-frequency thrum that came on at speeds over 45 mph. For that reason, we preferred the QX30 AWD with its standard 18-in wheels. Riding almost 2 inches higher than the Sport version, it is still a competent corner cutter (or grocery getter).

The Sport's tuned suspension has been tweaked, as well. It rides on a kit that is 7 percent more rigid than the base version. Under acceleration the QX30 displays a spirit that matches its good looks. On smoother surfaces, both Infiniti models display a quietness that shows off the interior designer's attention to detail.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport and QX30 AWD: First Drive Review - Autotrader