Infiniti QX30 VS Ford Escape
- Attractive, unusual crossover
- Rides and handles well
- Comfortable interior
- Really? No rear view camera at nearly $50,000?
- Not a big back seat
- Strong engine
- Fun chassis
- Good equipment
- Squidgy front seats
- Awkward touchscreen
- No extra power
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the 2016 Infiniti QX30 at its Australian launch with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
There’s no doubt that the compact crossover segment is a vitally important place for any carmaker to be. Nissan’s luxury arm, Infiniti, is no different, and thanks to a decision from its Japanese masters, the diminutive premium brand will go from having no players on the field to having two marquee players in a matter of just a few months.
But is there enough of a difference between the two to actually consider them different cars? Is it adding a layer of complexity for the prospective Infiniti customer? As it turns out, the differences run more than skin deep.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Ford Escape had a bit of a false start a few years back before things were put right with a facelift and an interior sorting-out to bring it into the game. With the endless rise of the SUV, makers now have to find ways to attract a few more punters - or a few more dollars per punter.
The idea of adding performance-inspired variants isn't new, of course - hatchback ranges are now awash with GT-line and other 'GTI-lite' variants which seems to be working quite well, thanks very much.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Even though it’s almost identical to the Q30, the QX30 manages to feel sufficiently different in suspension tune and cabin ambiance to be considered different.
It’s a disappointing oversight, though, by Infiniti to deny the base GT such basic safety fundamentals as a rear view camera (which Infiniti assures us is being worked on).
Would you consider the QX30 over similar rivals? Tell us what yout think in the comments below.
The Escape ST-Line is the second of its name I've driven and again after the Focus, I've come away liking it. While there's no full-fat ST to help make sense of the brand, it's nice to have a mid-size SUV that isn't German come to the party with a bit of driver appeal (okay, technically it is German...).
I think the Escape is a bit underrated and it's sadly inevitable that the ST-Line will suffer the same fate. But, that's the warzone that is Australia's SUV market.
Does the Escape ST-Line have enough oomph to grab your attention? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
In a sign of how worldly the car industry is becoming, the QX30 is built in Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the UK, using the German Mercedes-Benz A-Class platform and powertrains, all under Sino-French ownership via the Nissan-Renault Alliance.
On the outside, the design that first aired on the Q30 is pretty unique. It’s not a subtle car, with deep crease lines along its sides that, according to Infiniti, is an industry first in terms of manufacturing complexity.
When it comes to differences between the two vehicles, it’s minimal at best. There is a 35mm increase in height (30mm from taller springs and 5mm from roof rails), an extra 10mm in width, and extra trims affixed to the front and rear bumpers. Aside from the all-wheel-drive underpinnings, that is pretty much it for the exterior.
The same black plastic overfenders that are fitted to the Q30 are present on the QX30, with 18-inch rims on both the base model GT and the other variant, the Premium.
The dimensions of the QX30 are also an exact match for those on the Mercedes-Benz GLA, with the long front overhang acting as the main visual connection between the two cars.
The Escape exited the womb as Kuga but was renamed in line with Ford's expanding SUV range. They start with E, you see - Everest, EcoSport etc. In fact, I had an Escape a while back that still had Kuga sill plates such was the speed of the change.
The Escape is a reasonably familiar sight on our roads but it's not exactly selling the way, say, the Mazda CX-5 does.
To this base, the ST-Line adds a set of dark finish 19-inch alloys, blacked out grille, fog-lamp surrounds, roof rails and rear valance. It's fairly mild. The lower ride height does help, though. It could look a bit meaner, but that's not really the point of the ST-Line brand.
Inside you have the same seats as the rest of the range along with red stitching on the shifter and steering wheel. A set of alloy-face pedals, stainless steel kick plates and ST-Line floor mats complete the changes.
The interior is otherwise unchanged, and that's no bad thing, except we have to talk about the touchscreen. It works really well and is a good size but the awkward angle of the surrounds make it hard to hit the targets. It's a bit of an own-goal because otherwise it's very good.
The QX30 is obviously very similar to the Q30 in many respects, but the interior is slightly different, with larger, less cosseting seats up front and slightly higher seats in the rear.
The cabin is also lighter in overall appearance, thanks to a paler colour palette.
There are plenty of neat inclusions, including a pair of USB ports, plenty of door storage, a space for six bottles and a sizable glove box.
A pair of cupholders resides up front, along with a pair in the fold-down armrest in the rear.
There is no particularly logical location for the storage of smartphones, though, and the lack of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is down to Infiniti opting for its own phone connectivity suite.
A decent 430 litres of luggage space behind the rear seats is contrasted by a cramped rear area for all but the smallest of passengers, while sharply shaped rear door apertures making getting in and out a bit of an ask.
There are two ISOFIX baby seat points and a 12-volt socket in the rear, as well.
The Escape is one of the roomier mid-size SUVs, although it doesn't quite match the interior flexibility of the VW Tiguan. Rear seat space is generous, with good head and legroom and plenty of foot room.
The tailgate opens high and wide, which is handy for loading up. The boot will take between 406 litres (rear seats up) and 1603 litres (rear seats down). There are four cupholders - two up front and two in the rear armrest, with bottle holders in each door. The central armrest bin is deep and accommodating, and there are a few good spaces for stashing loose bits and pieces.
Price and features
The QX30 will be offered in two variants; the base model GT at $48,900 plus on-road costs, while the Premium will cost $56,900.
Both come equipped with the same engine; a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that’s sourced from Mercedes-Benz and also used on the Q30 and Merc GLA.
Eighteen-inch rims are standard on both cars, while an electronic handbrake, 10-speaker Bose audio, 7.0-inch multimedia screen and a full set of LED lamps all round are fitted across both variants as well.
Unfortunately, the QX30 GT misses out on a reversing camera all together, a fate it shares with the Q30 GT.
Infiniti Cars Australia told us that this was an oversight at the time the cars were being specced for Australia, particularly in light of the other technologies that the car would receive, like automatic emergency braking.
The company says it’s working hard to bring a reversing camera to the GT.
The top-spec Premium gets leather trim, a powered driver’s seat, and additional safety equipment like a 360-degree camera and radar cruise with brake assist.
The only optional extra on each car is metallic paint.
The ST-Line weighs in at $39,990 (plus on-road costs), an easy $5000 below the top-of-the-range Titanium. Standard are 19-inch gunmetal alloys, a nine-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, front and rear fog lights, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, partial leather trim, heated and folding power mirrors and a space-saver spare tyre.
Our car had the absurdly good value 'Technology Pack'. For $800 it's a no-brainer because you score upgraded forward AEB for high speeds, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention detection, auto high beam, active cruise and tyre pressure sensors. Just a pity it's not standard, really. Also on board was the useful but debatable hands-free tailgate for $950.
Engine & trans
Just the one engine is used across both cars; the 155kW/350Nm single-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the Q30 and A-Class.
It’s backed by a seven-speed transmission and wired into an all-wheel-drive system that is biased towards a front-drive configuration.
Sourced from Mercedes-Benz, up to 50 per cent of drive can be sent to the rear wheels, according to Infiniti.
Ford reckons you'll use 8.6L/100km on the combined cycle. In the real world, including a roughly 200km round trip run from Sydney up to the Blue Mountains we recorded 10.2L/100km.
The only drama is that it runs only on 95 RON premium unleaded. Having said that, it's obvious rivals do too if they have anything like the available power of the Ford engine.
Again, it would be easy to think that the QX30 would feel almost identical to its lower-riding sibling – but that would be incorrect. We criticised the Q30 for being a bit too buttoned down and unresponsive, but the QX30 feels more lively and involving, thanks to its unique spring and damper set-up.
Even though it’s 30mm higher than the Q, the QX doesn’t feel it at all, with a benign, pleasant ride with good body roll control and competent steering.
Our front-seat passenger complained of feeling a little ‘hemmed in’, which is a valid point. The sides of the car are very high, and the roofline is quite low, exacerbated by the steeply raked windscreen.
The 2.0-litre four-potter is smooth and punchy, and the gearbox well suited to it, but it’s lacking in aural character. Luckily the QX30 does a terrific job of suppressing noise before it gets into the cabin, then…
Like the Focus ST-Line I drove a little while ago, the Escape has no more power than any other car in the range. A hot SUV it isn't. The changes are restricted to the bits that make the car handle and grip, and even then, it's not a lot.
The ST-Line rides 10mm lower and has stiffer anti-roll bars to further rein in any body roll in the corners. Critically, the gunmetal 19-inch alloys are wrapped in Continental Sport Contact tyres, which is not the sort of rubber you expect on a mid-size SUV. This is a good thing.
One of the key changes to the ST-Line is the steering. The last time I drove an Escape I was struck by the inert steering. Things are much improved in the ST-Line, with a much more involving set up letting you know what's going on underneath.
As a day-to-day proposition, it's a very comfortable machine. I feared for the squishy feeling of the front seats but this was unfounded - a long day at the wheel yielded none of the fidgetiness soft seats can cause.
The lower ride height also makes it quite easy to get in and out of and it's an easy car to manoeuvre apart from a big-ish turning circle.
That engine is as good as ever - strong, torquey and well matched to the six-speed automatic. The all-wheel drive system is also very happy to play ball, as it is in the Titanium with the same engine.
The QX30 gets seven airbags, auto emergency braking, forward collision warning and a pop-up bonnet as standard across the line.
The base GT does, however, miss out on a reversing camera.
The Premium model also offers a 360-degree camera, blind spot warning, radar cruise control and brake assist, traffic sign detection, reverse motion detection and lane departure warning.
The ST-Line comes loaded with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, lower-speed AEB, reverse cross traffic alert, blind spot sensor, reversing camera, rollover stability and forward collision warning.
The $800 Technology Pack adds high speed AEB, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, driver attention detection, auto high beam, active cruise and tyre pressure sensors.
The Q30 is offered with a four-year, 100,000km warranty, and servicing is suggested every 12 months or 25,000km.
Infiniti offers a fixed three-year service schedule, with the GT and the Premium both costing an average of $541 over the three services provided.
Ford now offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty across the range. Roadside assist is via a membership to your local motoring organisation and if you service it with Ford, you get a 12-month extension.
Ford's 'Service Price Guarantee' program is a kind of capped-price servicing thing, with pricing for the services (every 12 months/15,000km) and some additional items. The first service is $350.