I could also understand Volkswagen Group’s highly effective platform sharing with cars as different as the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon being extremely similar underneath and this strategy is one of the main factors in Volkswagen Group’s huge success.
What I struggle to understand is motor manufacturers allowing their competitors to share their hard-won design and engineering. A prime case being Mercedes-Benz permitting Nissan to base its new Infinity Q30 on the relatively new A-Class. Whoever negotiated that deal at Nissan should have been negotiating our reforms to the EU.
Infiniti is to Nissan what Audi is to Volkswagen and despite success in the USA, has struggled to make an impact in Europe but this new Q30, particularly with its A-Class roots, should give the Japanese company the ammunition to make a real impact in the crowded premium sector. It is Infiniti’s first global entry in the compact segment, which should attract a new generation of premium buyers.
It is said that Infiniti targeted the Audi A3 Sportback when designing its new small hatchback, which is as close as the Q30 gets, although the Q30 is actually based on the ‘jacked up’ Mercedes GLA. The A3 Sportback and the Q30 couldn’t look more different, the Audi crisp and restrained, the Infiniti, taller, more sculpted but certainly distinctive, which should help it to stand out from the Germans.
The A-Class underpinnings ensure the dynamic qualities of the Q30 are right up to scratch although likely buyers will probably not concern themselves with handling on the limit, but more with refinement and ride comfort which are both right up there with the best in class.
The Q30 is available in a bewildering range of specifications, which will surely confuse both dealers and customers and is a sign of weak product planning. At one time, Japanese cars came with few, if any, options but the Q30 offers quite a number, although nowhere near as many as Audi or BMW.
The Q30 will become the company’s first ever vehicle built in Europe, at newly-upgraded production facilities in our own Sunderland, UK. Representing a £250 million investment, plant extensions totalling over 25,000 sq.m. will provide Infiniti with the production facility to satisfy the demands of premium vehicle manufacturing.
A successful recruitment programme has recently been completed, providing over 300 new jobs to support Q30 production, great news for the local economy.
‘These two cars represent two different approaches to the same customers…’
The SE will be available with the option of two 1.6-litre petrol engines: 122 and 156 PS and 109 PS 1.5-litre and 170 PS 2.2-litre diesels. The Premium and Sport model are also available with a 211 PS 2.0-litre petrol engine which is as close as the Q30 gets to being a hot hatch.
The range is fitted as standard with a 6-speed manual transmission and on some models there is the option of a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission similar to Audi’s S tronic. Like the rest of the Infiniti range, the Q30 is beautifully built with high quality materials and excellent interior fit and finish, if not quite up to Audi standards.
Audi is well known for four-wheel drive, with a take-up of around 30 per cent, but it will be interesting to see how many four-wheel-drive Infinity Q30s are sold; I suspect not many. These two cars represent two different approaches to the same customers and the Q30 could succeed thanks to its taller stance, often favoured by women. Certainly, the Q30 will stand out in the company car park.
Since Lexus launched its Q30 equivalent, the CT, its sales have soared, with a little help from the RX SUV. It is said the Q30 will double Infiniti sales and give the company the volume it needs to attract more dealers and improve brand awareness.
Infiniti make seriously good and distinctive cars but is trying to break into a very competitive and crowded market place and hopefully the Q30 will give the company the break it deserves. It is also great news that the Q30 is made in England and interesting that Nissan made the extra investment at Sunderland, despite fears of Brexit.
|CAR||Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI SE||Infiniti Q30 1.5d SE|
|Engine||1598 cc, 4-cyl||1461 cc, 4-cyl|
|Max power||110 PS||109 PS|
|Max torque||250 Nm||260 Nm|
|0-62 mph||10.7 sec||12 sec|
|Top speed||124 mph||118 mph|
|CO2||99 g/km||108 g/km|