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2017 INFINITI QX30 PREMIUM AWD ROAD TEST REVIEW

 

An extremely well executed subcompact luxury utility

Infiniti has just completely filled out its popular SUV lineup by adding an all-new subcompact SUV, and it looks fabulous. How could it not with Infiniti's trademark double-arched grille up front and sensual lines everywhere else, not to mention its stylish LED enhanced headlight and taillight designs. Other highlights include satin silver detailing for the front and rear undertrays, more satin silver brightwork around the side windows and roof rails, and a superb looking set of machine-finished 18-inch alloys.

Infiniti keeps up appearances inside as well, with nicely stitched and padded genuine Nappa leather overtop the instrument shroud and ahead of the front passenger, mine done out in an elegant cream colour to match the seat upholstery and door panels. It made for a rich looking interior, with most other materials above the class average.

Refined, luxurious, roomy interior sets the QX30 apart

The primary instruments include satin silver-rimmed dials, centered by a colour multi-information display edged in Infiniti's trademark purplish hue. All the switchgear throughout the cabin is high in quality and works very well too, while a nice large fixed panoramic sunroof sits overhead, as does a console that includes controls for that sunroof's power sliding sunshade and LED reading lamps.

As noted some beautiful Nappa leather trim was added to key areas, while soft touch surfaces include the entire dash top and door uppers, whereas the leatherette door inserts were nicely stitched and padded to match the seats.

Those seats are very comfortable with excellent four-way lumbar support so you can apply pressure to the exact spot needed in the lower back to ease pain or prevent it altogether, while the tilt and telescopic steering wheel's reach is extensive, allowing anybody to get comfortable while maximizing control.

There's a surprising amount of room in back too, with about five inches of legroom ahead of my knees and plenty of space for my feet when the driver's seat was positioned for my five-foot-eight medium-build body, plus about three to four inches above my head and the same next to my outside shoulder and hips. It's possible to get three abreast in back, although two is a lot more comfortable, the latter allowing rear passengers to enjoy a folding centre armrest with pop-out dual cupholders. Behind that is a handy pass through for long cargo such as skis, but active lifestyle folks will be more likely to drop one or both sides of its 60/40-split rear seatback to stow their gear. That's easy to do thanks to a nice large release on the top portion of each seat, reachable from the rear hatch, the SUV's 544 litres of cargo space opening up to a sizeable 963 litres with no rear passengers aboard.

Ample power and enjoyable handling trumped by amazing comfort

The QX30 is wonderfully refined and enjoyable to drive through town or on the highway with the ability to soak up deep dips and big bumps better than most in the class while still delivering agile and enjoyable performance through the corners. The 208 horsepower 2.0-litre direct-injected and turbocharged four-cylinder offers plenty of performance off the line thanks to a robust 258 pound-feet of torque that comes on at just 1,200 rpm and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that shifts quickly and smoothly with or without its standard paddle shifters and always matched engine revs ideally, making the most of available power.

Next to the electronic gear selector there's a button for Sport, Manual, and Eco modes. Sport mode made a big difference although I found myself leaving it in Eco mode for most city driving, where it still delivered amply strong performance along with superb comfort.

Really, I can't emphasize the QX30's comfort and overall livability enough. I had two other test cars during the same week, the first alternative a larger and more luxuriously equipped premium-branded SUV and the other a sexy two-seat convertible, but I kept walking right past these two in my driveway and out to the road where I'd initially parked the little Infiniti. Its seats are so good, upright driving position and visibility so excellent, all-round ease of use so relaxing, practical layout so useful, fully-loaded feature set so well sorted, and performance so enjoyable that it became my regular go-to transport, forcing me to make special trips at the end of the week to log miles on the others.

Superb fuel economy for such a luxuriously equipped SUV

It didn't hurt that it was also good on fuel thanks in part to standard auto start/stop, which shuts the engine off when it would otherwise be idling in order to save fuel and reduce emissions. This helps the little SUV achieve a superb claimed fuel economy rating of 9.7 L/100km city and 7.1 highway with FWD or 10.6 city and 8.0 highway with as-tested AWD.

Offering a thriftier FWD version makes sense as those who don't drive far away from the city will rarely need AWD, if at all, especially when considering how well the various electronic traction and stability systems do their job in slippery conditions. Of note, the most performance-oriented Sport model can't even be had with AWD, which just goes to show that it's not critical for most driving situations. Still, if you plan on heading to the hills for skiing or tobogganing it's very helpful, even to the point that the authorities won't force to wrap chains around your drive wheels if your vehicle includes AWD. By Infiniti Canada's own projections more than 80-percent of QX30 buyers will opt for AWD, and I certainly would fall into this camp.

Leather powered memory seats are standard

Before getting ahead of myself a rundown on features is as follows: the $35,990 base QX30 uses FWD and comes standard with 18-inch alloys on 235/50 all-season runflats, auto on/off halogen headlamps, signature LED daytime running lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access, power-folding heatable outside mirrors with puddle lamps, reverse dipping and driver-side auto-dimming, an auto-dimming interior mirror, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, dual-zone auto HVAC, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment with a rotating dial controller surrounded by quick access buttons on the lower console, a reverse camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with satellite radio plus two USB inputs, while Nappa leather upholstery, heatable eight-way powered front seats with memory for both seats and mirrors, and all the usual active and passive safety equipment also come standard.

A $5,000 optional Premium package adds LED fog lamps, aluminum treadplates, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, a universal garage door opener, a colour multi-information display, more advanced Infiniti InTouch infotainment with Navigation and lane guidance, 10-speaker Bose audio, a fixed panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, front and rear parking sensors, and a chrome trunk finisher.

Same features as a big SUV from a smaller more manageable package

The as-tested $38,490 QX30 AWD is equipped identically to the base model other than the addition of its own unique front and rear fascias, different 18-inch alloys, three centimetres-plus of added ride height, gloss black mirror housings, and roof rails, while my loaner included the optional Premium package as well as a $2,500 Technology package that adds LED headlights with dynamic cornering and auto high beams, enhanced LED interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, a superb 360-degree surround parking monitor with moving object detection, semi-automated parking, forward emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, and lane departure warning.

If the opportunity arrives I'd really like to test out the $46,490 QX30 Sport as it not only includes both Premium and Technology packages, but also boasts 19-inch alloys on 235/45 summer performance runflats, a 1.5-centimetre drop in ride height, seven-percent stiffer springs, a flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, sport seats with more aggressive side bolstering, larger more capable brake rotors that are cross-drilled up front with Infiniti-branded calipers, a gloss black grille insert, unique front and rear bumpers and lower fascias, and dark chrome dual exhaust finishers, all of which should make it more fun to live with and drive.

An impressive SUV for excellent value

After a week behind the wheel I've become a big fan of the QX30. It does everything asked of it very well, and delightfully surprises when it comes to refinement and comfort. I recommend it highly.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.

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