It sure is pre­mium

Herald Sun - Motoring - - SHORT CUT -

VALUE

Im­pres­sive pack­age, with the only op­tion be­ing $1200 metal­lic paint. High­lights in­clude a sun­roof, auto park­ing, LED lights, adap­tive cruise con­trol, au­to­matic high-beam, sev­eninch touch­screen, sat­nav with speed sign recog­ni­tion and 10speaker Bose au­dio. In the ab­sence of Ap­ple CarPlay or An­droid Auto there is In­finiti’s InTouch set-up. Ex­cel­lent fit and fin­ish in cabin, good se­lec­tion of colours, ma­te­ri­als and two-tone up­hol­stery that lifts am­bi­ence. Warranty at four years/ 100,000km is one up on ri­vals and ser­vice at $1837 for three years is a lit­tle cheaper too.

COMFORT

For a small car, it has a big car feel. Doors shut with a “thunk” and it’s quiet and cosy inside. Com­fort­able sup­port­ive sports seats have thick bol­sters and the backs reach al­most to the roof — com­bined with a small rear win­dow they limit over-shoul­der vi­sion. Front seats are heated and pow­ered, with power lum­bar ad­just­ment. Rear pas­sen­gers have lim­ited rear legroom and the boot is on the small side too.

SAFETY

The full five stars but scores for whiplash pro­tec­tion are mar­ginal and there’s no re­verse cam­era on the base model . The cam­era in this one ren­ders 360de­gree bird’s-eye view. Stan­dard fea­tures in­clude blind spot and lane de­par­ture warn­ings, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing with full au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing and front and rear park sen­sors. A pop-up bon­net pro­tects pedes­tri­ans.

DRIV­ING

We did 800km, many on coun­try roads, and av­er­aged 5.7L/100km. The diesel, with auto stop-start, is re­mark­ably quiet and feels more re­laxed than its petrol coun­ter­parts, while the twin-clutch transmission is not as fre­netic. It has a planted feel on the road yet the ride is cushy, even with 19-inch wheels and sports sus­pen­sion. Drive modes are econ­omy, sport and, with pad­dle-shifters, man­ual. Stan­dard mode feels fine and that’s where we mostly left it.

ALTERNATIVES

Mercedes-Benz A200d, from $43,300 Donor ve­hi­cle for the In­finiti with same driv­e­lines but sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper — al­though op­tions will soon add to the price. Its diesel is tuned to de­liver less power (100kW/ 300Nm) but the ma­jor dif­fer­ence is in the Benz’s firmer, sportier ride and han­dling. It claims 4.2L/100km. Warranty is three years/100,000km and ser­vic­ing $1980 for three years. Volvo V40 D4 Luxur y, from $46,990 Un­der­rated. Sporty, com­fort­able and eye catch­ing, es­pe­cially in blue. Un­der load, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel (140kW/400Nm) can be noisy. Auto emer­gency brak­ing is stan­dard but blind spot alert and the like are all part of a $4000 op­tion pack. Eight-speed auto as­sists the claimed 4.5L/100km. Warranty is three years/ un­lim­ited km. Ser­vic­ing costs $2115 for three years.

VER­DICT

There’s a lot to like — the styling, comfort, ease of driv­ing and nu­mer­ous ex­tras. So there should be, given that it costs con­sid­er­ably more than the com­pe­ti­tion.

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