► First look inside new Infiniti Q30
► Plenty of A-class inside Q's cabin
► It's their 1-series, A3 rival
Infiniti invited us to us a sneak preview of its all-new Q30 hatch on the eve of this year’s 2015 Frankfurt motor show, so we went along and were among the first to get our hands on the Japanese brand’s new A-class and A3 contender.
With its compact dimensions, bold styling and diesel power, the Q30 is probably the first Infiniti in a long time that we can and should take seriously. But its looks won't get everyone jumping from one foot to the other in glee.
It’s fair to say the Q30 is a rather busy-looking car. There’s a lot going on along the flanks, and both front and rear are laden with fussy details and cluttered styling clues, but there’s a pleasing chunkiness and assuredness to the Q30’s overall proportions. Check out the transition from the Q30 concept car here.
Presume there’s a lot of Qashqai at play here?
Nope, in fact there’s a lot of Mercedes-Benz A-class architecture beneath the Q30’s creased sheetmetal - a benefit of parent company Nissan’s alliance with Daimler that helped concertina the Infiniti’s development time and get the car to market quickly. That said, Infiniti went to great lengths to highlight the Q30’s extensive engineering and development programmes that focused on ensuring it rides and handles like an Infiniti.
The Q30 still retains a lot of the styling cues of the concept that bowed in at the last Frankfurt show in 2013. The hidden rear door handles, neater grille and unadorned rump may have been production casualties, but the creased and curved sheet metal, boldly styled headlamps and rear light clusters, and characteristically kinked crescent-shaped C-pillar, remain in place. But check out the interior photo above for proof of how much A-class switchgear is carried over (clue: lots).
So how much will the Q30 cost?
In the UK the Q30 goes on sale now with first deliveries in mid-January 2016. Prices start at just below £20,000 for the entry-level SE trim. That’s joined by the mid-range Premium and top-end Sport variants (see both pictured side by side below). The special edition City Black version will be the first to roll off the production line in Sunderland.
This will be the first time Infiniti has produced models in Europe, and Nissan’s production plant in England benefited from a £250 million investment that sees the Q30 built alongside the Juke but with its own bespoke bodyshop. Production will be limited to 65,000 a year. The capital injection also sparked a drive to recruit 300 extra staff to build Q-related models.
Talk me through the Infiniti's engines and transmissions
There will be a wide range of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. A 1.6-litre petrol with outputs of 122bhp and 156bhp is joined by a 211bhp 2.0-litre petrol, while on the diesel front there’s the choice of a 109bhp 1.5 or a chunkier 170bhp 2.2. All will come with either seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmissions or six-speed manual gearboxes - all borrowed unashamedly from its Merc sibling. Infiniti is also promising a comprehensive array of safety and driver assist equipment, intelligent connectivity and excellent in-car refinement levels.
It dealer network will, understandably, be desperate to get their hands on the Q30. Over the past 12 months Infiniti sold fewer than 750 models in the UK and just 4200 in total across Europe. Having something European-centric with small capacity diesel engines will be a godsend.
The Q30 is, Infiniti claims, the start of a renaissance for the Japanese upper-echelon brand. It will be followed in early 2016 by the QX30, a four-wheel drive version of the Q30, with a raft of facelifted and replacement models for the existing line-up in 2016 and 2017.