Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2016 review
Craig Jamieson road tests and reviews the Mercedes-Benz A-Class with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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Peter Anderson drives an Infiniti hatch based on a Mercedes-Benz and powered by a Renault engine. His road test and review of the new Infiniti Q30 Sport diesel includes specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Infiniti's Q30 is already a premium hatch by another name - the Mercedes A-Class. You probably can't really tell that by looking at it, and Infiniti will surely hope you don't. It's an interesting move from Infiniti which is pretty keen to not produce another German car.
Premium hatches are important for luxury makers - they attract new, hopefully younger punters, wow them with the luxury experience and then hope to sell them some more profitable metal down the line. It has worked a treat for BMW (1 Series), Audi (A3 and now A1) and Mercedes-Benz (A-Class). So you have to ask the question - is using a donor car from one of your competitors a good way to grab new buyers?
|Infiniti Q30 2017: Sport Premium 2.0T|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
This is a tough one. On the outside, it's completely unlike the car it's based on, with a totally individual look and feel. Only problem is, particularly from the front, people mistook it for a Mazda. That's not a bad thing (Mazdas look great) but probably not what Infiniti is after.
Those Philistines aside, the Q30's styling was generally well-received by all who saw it, even in our car's garish rose gold (Liquid Copper) finish. The big wheels help, and those strong creases in the bodywork make it unique in the premium hatch crowd.
There is a nice feeling in the interior - cosy but not tight.
Inside, you can sense the car's origins. There are a lot of Mercedes bits and bobs, including much of the switchgear, but the dash design has been revamped. Infiniti's interior designers have thankfully avoided the chintzier metal look that befouls some As and CLAs. The upper section of the dash is bespoke Infiniti, with the separate screen flung in favour of an integrated touchscreen panel and Infiniti's own 7.0-inch screen and rotary dial-operated sound and nav system.
There is a nice feeling in the interior - cosy but not tight, with some lovely materials throughout, and the right decision was made to oust the column shifter for a console-mounted gear selector. The wrong decision was made (although it's unlikely there was an alternative option) to hold on to Merc's all-in-one indicator/lights/wiper stalk.
The Q30 isn't a big car but you can fit a surprising amount of stuff into it. Boot space is a quite reasonable 430 litres, which compares favourably with some cars one size up. You'll find handy cupholders front and rear for a total of four, and bottle holders in the front doors will take a 500ml Coke but a wine bottle will stretch the friendship.
The front seats, designed with Infiniti's 'zero gravity' concept, are wonderfully comfortable and aren't, as they first appear, from Mercedes. The rear seats are also quite comfortable, although the middle passenger won't agree. Legroom in the back is tight, but even with the huge sunroof, there is an adequate amount of headroom front and rear. That said, rear seat passengers could feel a mite claustrophobic thanks to the rising glass line and falling roofline.
You can choose from three engines - the GT-only 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol, a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol and a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel (not available on the GT). Pricing starts at $38,900 for the 1.6 GT and tops out at $54,900 for the car we had, the 2.2 diesel Sport Premium.
Standard is Bose 10-speaker audio with active noise cancellation (optional on the GT and Sports), 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, front and side cameras, keyless entry, a comprehensive safety package, electric front seats with three memory settings, panoramic glass roof, sat nav, adaptive LED headlights, auto headlights and wipers, auto parking, active cruise control and Nappa leather interior.
A 7.0-inch screen is set into the dashboard and runs on Nissan-based software and hardware. The sound quality from the Bose speakers is good but the software is deeply ordinary. Mercedes COMAND is little better, but when you're competing with BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI while shouting your technology credentials, it's a little jarring. Lack of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compounds this, particularly given its available on two of its three German rivals.
The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, sourced from corporate cousin Renault, develops 125kW/350Nm to shift the 1521kg Q30 from 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds (the petrol cracks the ton in 7.3sec). Power goes to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
There's a fairly aggressive stop-start system along for the ride to help cut fuel use.
Infiniti claims 5.3L/100km on the combined cycle whereas we found it used 7.8L/100km, although it was almost exclusively driven in suburban and peak-hour traffic in Sydney.
Like the exterior design, the Q30 has its own character from behind the wheel. The 2.2 litre turbo-diesel is an excellent engine, well-paired with the seven-speed dual-clutch. Smooth and strong, it feels quicker than the claimed 0-100km/h figure and inside you'll barely hear it. The only real clue to its oil-burning operation is the low-ish redline.
It takes a lot to unsettle the Q30
In the cruise and around town it's an equally quiet and composed car. Despite those huge wheels, road noise is minimal (there is some active noise cancelling) and, just as impressively, the big hoops don't seem to have ruined the ride quality.
It takes a lot to unsettle the Q30 and the front end is delightfully pointy, with well-weighted steering helping to make it feel nimble and positive.
As a sporty hatch, it's a nice balance, and with the ability to put a decent amount of luggage and normal-sized humans in the back, it could cheerfully serve as a family car.
4 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Active and passive safety features include seven airbags (including driver's knee), ABS, stability and traction controls, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, two ISOFIX points, brake force distribution, pedestrian protection bonnet and lane departure warning.
The Q30 was awarded five ANCAP stars in August 2016, the highest available.
Infiniti offers a four year/100,000km warranty and four years roadside assist. A scheduled servicing plan that covers the first three years or 75,000km and is priced at $612 for the 2.2-litre diesel. That covers three scheduled services and the official line on visiting the dealer is every 25,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.
There aren't too many Infiniti dealers about, so that has to be considered for any prospective buyer.
Australian car buyers have long since given up sneering at posh hatches, so the Q30 could be the car to finally fire the local market's imagination. The rest of the Infiniti range is a strange mix of SUVs (one pretty but old, the other ungainly and hideous), a mid-size sedan with weird technology choices (the Q50) and a large-ish coupe and sedan nobody seems to care about.
It has taken a while, but Infiniti has finally produced a car I think people could want. The pricing is aggressive, when you bother to read the spec sheet, it's usefully big and differs enough from the A-Class that most people won't notice the link. There's also a compact SUV version, the QX30, if you've got more money to spend.
And that's Infiniti's plan - to make you think they've done something different. It may need to be a little more different, but if this is part of a more sensible strategy for the marque, it might just work,
|GT 1.6t||1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$23,888 – 29,888||2017 INFINITI Q30 2017 GT 1.6t Pricing and Specs|
|Sport 2.0T||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$29,000 – 33,990||2017 INFINITI Q30 2017 Sport 2.0T Pricing and Specs|
|Sport 2.2D||2.1L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$29,260 – 35,310||2017 INFINITI Q30 2017 Sport 2.2D Pricing and Specs|
|Sport Premium 2.0T||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$30,250 – 36,410||2017 INFINITI Q30 2017 Sport Premium 2.0T Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|