By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
A popular jazz album from the 1970’s and 80’s was called “Twin Brothers from Different Mothers” and we think that title is the appropriate description of the Infiniti QX30 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA crossovers.
The Infiniti QX30 evolves from a partnership between Infiniti owner Renault-Nissan Alliance and Mercedes-Benz’s Daimler AG. The sharing includes engines, electric power trains, small cars and premium vehicles of which the QX30 is a part of.
The little Infiniti also uses the Mercedes seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, all-wheel drive system, suspension components and several driver-assist technologies including lane-keep assist plus the active cruise control.
With so much of the QX30 content coming from Mercedes-Benz, is the Infiniti merely a poor cousin of the German manufacturer? No. The Infiniti QX30 stands on its own merits and maintains the Infiniti characteristics without being a carbon copy or even a knock-off the Mercedes compact crossover.
Measuring a few inches less in length than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the QX30 works well as a personal crossover. It has an attractive coupe-like styling and is a size that makes it very desirable for a single person or couple while allowing occasional space for three passengers snuggling in the rear seat. Cargo space is 19.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 34 cubic feet with the rear seat lowered, so don’t expect to be able to carry home large screen TVs or pack extensive camping gear. It’s more like a sport coupe with a big trunk when it comes to carrying capabilities.
The 2018 Infiniti QX30 Sport version we tested is the top model, of six, and it is only available in front-wheel drive. This makes its mission more suited for on-road performance, handling and agility more than venturing too far off-road. Features that contribute it’s “sportiness” include cross drilled sport brakes, a lowered suspension, flat bottom steering wheel, along with a few other enhancements and cosmetic upgrades. All-wheel drive is only available in the Luxury and Premium trim models.
The 208-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine performs quickly with no hesitation when the accelerator is floored or nor turbo lag when preparing to pull out and pass. The only anomaly we found was a slight hesitancy shifting at lower speeds both when letting it shift automatically or when using the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. We felt no torque steer even when turning and accelerating.
Like most small vehicles, the Infiniti is fun to drive with its positive and solid road feel, quick turning radius and compliant ride. Rough roads and undulations are absorbed, more than amplified, so rough surfaces aren’t a problem. However, like most vehicles of this type, the road noise tends to be a slight distraction.
The EPA says fuel economy should be in the 24-mpg city, 33-mpg highway and 27-mpg combined range and it was during our week behind the wheel. We averaged 27.5 mpg.
The interior layout and control placement is good with the large quality-feel buttons and knobs which provide intuitive and easy access. At first glance the dash looks cluttered, but the ease of use makes up for it. We especially like the placement of the large control knob for screen functions just where the driver’s hand drops to on the center console. In addition, the flat-bottom steering wheel is a nice touch.
The six Infiniti QX30 trim levels include the QX30, Luxury, Luxury AWD, Premium, Premium AWD and Sport. All models are well-equipped with suitable features for the price range, as is appropriate for an upscale compact crossover.
The 2018 prices range from $30,945, including the destination charge, for the QX30 and go up to $39,495 for the FWD Sport and $38,695 for the Premium AWD. All the available options on the Sport including the Technology Package, Sport LED Package, Sport Leather Package, Sport Navigation Package and some aftermarket style accessories and wheels can run the price as high as $47,175.
With the element of twin sons with abundant shared technology and mechanicals, you’d expect the two to have identical drive characteristics, but they are both unique unto their own brand. Deciding between the two is best left to design preference and your own drive test impressions.