Infiniti Q30 long-term test review: unconventional self-parking
Self-parking system shows that autonomous tech still has a way to go
The Q30 is loaded with technology. When parking, there are all-round sensors, a reversing camera and a surround-view monitor to make it pretty easy to slip into a tight spot in a multi-storey.
It’s just as well, because the car’s Intelligent Park Assist can be a liability. In the right circumstances, when parallel parking, it’s a dream. You spot a space, indicate and the system takes over. All you have to do is brake when necessary and make sure you don’t run anyone over.
But the system struggles with bay parking. Attempt to park in a bay on your right and five times out of 10 it works a treat. The other times, you drift past the space in the hope the car will spot it and the little arrow prompt will appear, only for it never to show. Mildly embarrassed, you then find another space, and, after another missed opportunity by the parking system, park in it yourself. Bay parking on the left? The success rate drops to around one in 10. Here’s what can happen. After selecting a perfect spot in the middle of three empty bays, the system offers its assistance. The notifications appear, the process begins, and the steering wheel spins away, until you realise that you’re perpendicular to the other cars. The system has parallel parked you across three spaces, and you’re left looking a little silly and a whole lot less dignified than you should do in a £33,500 car. JB
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Economy 43.4mpg Faults None Expenses Replacement front tyre and fitting £166.99 Mileage 6478
Our posh Nissan has been in the wars. A fat screw embedded itself in the offside front tyre, necessitating a trip to Kwik Fit for a replacement. We were in and out in an hour, although if we’d specified 19in wheels on our car instead of 18s, we would have had to wait a couple of days for a larger tyre to be delivered. Thank heavens we rate practicality and ride quality over style, eh? MB
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Economy 43.4mpg Faults None Expenses Replacement front tyre and fitting £166.99 Mileage 5369
A hapless motorist has scraped the Infiniti. The Q30 has mild hints of ruggedness to it, including some plastic wheel arch surrounds. Usefully, one of these bore the brunt of the damage. With a bit of elbow grease I buffed off the worst of the grazes you can see above, somewhat reducing my frustration at the unknown assailant. MB
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Economy 43.4mpg Faults None Expenses Replacement front tyre and fitting £166.99 Mileage 5988
Should you be considering an Infiniti, I’d recommend asking your dealer to lend you a test car for a few days rather than just going for a short drive around the block.
I was recently immersed in our Q30 for a solid fortnight, during which time my views on the car flip-flopped between underwhelmed, downright baffled and occasionally quite impressed.
My first impressions were not positive. Granted, I’d jumped straight out of a silken Jaguar XF V6 diesel worth twice the price, but the Q30 felt disappointingly unrefined for a car with pretensions of fighting the Audi A3. Upon start-up and under acceleration, the 2.2-litre diesel engine chattered away brashly, and the car’s ride felt about as uncharitable as a US border guard.
I was also surprised by how much of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (upon which the Q30 is based) is still evident in the cabin. I’d assumed Infiniti would go to greater lengths to disguise it, but there’s no mistaking those origins, not least the instrument screen graphics and much of the switchgear. Heck, even the locking wheel nut bears a three-pointed star.
It’s all distinctly Germanic in its origin and quality, so that, at least, is a positive attribute, but the overall impression is one of a lack of a cohesive look and feel. The identity crisis is a shame, because I admire the Q30’s bold exterior looks.
As those initial niggles ebbed away, what became clear is that the Q30 is a thoroughly solid car. Late one night, I forewent my dull M3 motorway commute home and chose instead to take some flowing country roads and even found myself enjoying what is undoubtedly a keen- handling chassis. Infiniti’s challenge is to convince car shoppers, short on time and perhaps patience, to give it a chance. That’s an uphill job, but I won’t be sniffy about nabbing our Q30 in the future, even if the car’s stubby black key looks identical to a Merc one…
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Economy 43.4mpg Faults None Expenses Replacement front tyre and fitting £166.99
I’ve been a fan of the Q30’s styling since I first saw it, but during a recent visit to a Mazda dealership, I realised why: it has an apparent twin in the shape of the Mazda 3. The similarities have already been noted in passing but were emphasised by the two cars wearing identical paint schemes. What my photo doesn’t show is that the rear of the Q30 has a more muscular look than the 3.
It has been easy to appreciate the Infiniti Q30’s strengths during its first month with us.
Cruising along the M3 motorway once a week is a treat. The calm ride comfort at speed, a lovely lump of overtaking power and the quietness of the cabin team up to create one of the most relaxing automotive spaces I’ve experienced.
Couple these with a high-quality sound system and adaptive cruise control and the Q30 transforms the usual 80-minute slog into one of the most chilled-out periods in my life, and I look forward to the journey throughout the week. The only thing that could make the experience even more pleasant would be massaging seats, although that’s quite a rare option at this price level.
An early opportunity to find out how well the Q30 could multi-task arose when I was asked to pick up some bulky furniture for a family member living two and a half hours away. Five dining chairs and the extension leaf for an oak table fitted comfortably into the back of the Q30 with the rear seats folded, even if the already slim rear screen was almost completely blocked. The bulkier parts of the table had to be squeezed into a small van, but the Q30 showed that its load-carrying ability shouldn’t be underestimated.
The steeply raked rear screen did cause some concern about it being broken by an errant chair leg – smooth driving and seatbelting the load alleviated this – and I was also mindful of the possibility of the wood damaging the well-appointed cabin. However, both car and load arrived without damage, in good time. I’m starting to expect nothing less from the Q30.
That’s two ticks on the list of requirements for the Q30, then. Boot space is an easy win for a manufacturer, but comfort is more challenging. Looks like I’ll have to delve even deeper to find the source of the Q30’s scarcity on UK roads.
INFINITI Q30 2.2D PREMIUM TECH INTOUCH DCT
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Economy 47.0mpg Faults None Expenses None
It’s hard to miss the Infiniti Q30 waiting for me at the start of its six-month residency at Autocar.
The Moonlight White, slightly raised premium hatchback certainly stands out from its rivals as a bit of a looker – a mass of creases and flame surfacing in a multi-storey car park full of Germanic conservatism.
We gave the Q30 a promising but not class-leading three and a half stars when we road tested it earlier this year – not bad for a company with Infiniti’s diminutive stature in the UK. But in the marque’s ambition to boost its size from the 2813 sales that its entire range had accrued in 2016 by the end of November, the Q30 will be a key player. In the same period, Audi racked up more than 14 times this number of sales just with the A3, the UK’s best-selling premium hatch of this size.
So I have the not insignificant task of figuring out if the Q30 deserves the same, or at least a healthier chunk, of this market. The on-the-road price of our car is £33,500. Gulp. That’s less than £1000 shy of an automatic Audi S3 Sportback – one reason why the Q30 isn’t outselling the A3.
In Premium Tech Intouch spec – the highest-spec Q30 there is – it has the goods to go with the looks, though. Starting at the front, it’s fitted with LED auto-levelling headlights, which, from my experience so far, are as sharp as you’d want them to be, as well as LED foglights. Naturally, for a car of this class, the headlights are automatic, with automatic full beam if you choose to activate it.
The door mirrors house puddle lamps and are heated, electrically adjustable and folding, as well as housing around-view cameras, courtesy of an £1800 Safety Pack. Let’s hope that no inconsiderate soul knocks one of those off; I’m sure they aren’t cheap to replace.
The Safety Pack also includes a blindspot warning system, automatic park assistance and adaptive cruise control – a considerable technological leap over the relatively conventional cruise control, automatic wipers and simple reversing camera with parking sensors of my old Ssangyong Tivoli, although the Infiniti is nearly twice the price. The Q30 has the auto wipers, camera and sensors, too.
Premium Tech spec gets a leather-trimmed cabin and a synthetic suede headlining over the one-step-down Premium spec, as well as keyless entry. Both Premium and Premium Tech cars have heated seats with lumbar adjustment, and our Q30 adds electrically adjustable front seats with three memory settings, a rear armrest and a ski hatch. The Intouch part of the car’s specification, meanwhile, brings a complex satellite navigation system, DAB radio and traffic sign recognition.
Our Q30 is fitted with a 2.2-litre diesel engine, a seven-speed dualclutch automatic gearbox and noise cancelling technology aimed at suppressing the sound of the engine. Infiniti’s claimed combined fuel consumption figure is 64.2mpg. Given the Q30’s 50-litre fuel tank, filling up should be an infrequent occurrence. We shall see.
Euro NCAP rated the Q30 as the safest small family car back in March and it’s clear to see why. On our car, there are seven airbags, lane departure warning, a tyre pressure monitor and a raft of behind-the-scenes driver aids such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive brake assist. The last of these applies the correct amount of force if it senses insufficient braking, but not so much as to cause a rearend collision. Suffice to say that six months after suffering a serious car accident, I find that these features provide abundant peace of mind.
This, as a strength, is a good starting point. What the Q30 needs to do to gain ground on premium hatch favourites, though, is a fairly long list, and merit in this segment certainly reflects the sales quantities. Considering the Q30 scored the same at the hands of our testers as the BMW 1 Series, Mini Clubman and Volvo V40 – the fifth, fourth and third-placed cars in the Q30’s segment respectively – Infiniti isn’t far off the mark with its inaugural hatch.
Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, has applied some wizardry to make the Qashqai consistently one of the UK’s favourite cars, and the underpinnings of the Q30 are from the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Mercedes being the newly declared largest premium car maker in the world – so the next six months will reveal whether the Q30 has been sprinkled with the same fairy dust.
How I’ll find this out during my time with the Q30 will vary. A large family – from infants to 6ft 4in uncles – will put its passenger space through its paces, and with this mix comes a glut of gear to fit into its boot. A weekly motorway mooch will get the long-distance pleasantries out of the way, and a daily crawling urban commute has been taken in the Q30’s stride, if slightly hurting its fuel economy early on. Colder mornings mean a colder engine, so the Q30’s stop-start won’t kick in before I’m halfway to the office. Darn.
Aside from this, the Q30 has been fit for purpose in the purest sense of the phrase. My mostly solitary trips haven’t even tickled the Q30’s capability, but with the prospect of a decidedly upmarket new car titillating potential passengers and a glut of family functions and errands around the corner, my list of requirements for the Q30 has increased tenfold. I’ll let you know in the coming months how it gets on.
INFINITI Q30 2.2D PREMIUM TECH INTOUCH DCT
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Options Moonlight White paint £670, Safety Pack £1800 Economy 40.9mpg Faults None Expenses None
Source: Autocar Online