DASHING INFINITI TURNS HEADS
CAMERA OMISSION A BLIND SPOT
HEADS turned, eyes bulged and a few fellow motorists opened their car windows while waiting at the lights and asked “what is that?”.
The object of intrigue was an Infiniti Q30 Sport, a low-slung thing of beauty with gorgeous lines, an aggressive snout, dual rectangular exhausts and a purposeful stance.
I'd have called it a sports SUV, but the makers say it's a ‘crossover’.
Either way, it's an eye magnet, and it's an interesting vehicle in other aspects too.
Infiniti is the standalone premium model from the house of Nissan, much as a Lexus is to Toyota, but it has more than a touch of Mercedes-Benz in its veins; and despite its Italian name and Japanese-French heritage, it's built in England.
The Q30s come in three engine choices, 1.6 and 2.0 turbo-petrol and 2.2litre turbo-diesel, all with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and front wheel drive.
Prices start from $38,900 for the 1.6GT, the 2.0 Sport is from $44,900 and the diesel Sports Premium is $54,900.
Our steed was the $44,900 2.0 Sport, which had almost everything we expected: 19-inch alloys, excellent sports seats, sports suspension, adaptive LED headlights, a 7-inch touchscreen with satnav, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, a lovely dash trim in a tasteful mix of suede, leather and piano black and a six-speaker sound system.
The cabin is very Merc-like and the mighty 155kW/350Nm engine is the same as used in the Merc CLA and the chassis is Merc A-Class.
It's a refined car that glides along serenely in traffic, but a prod of the right foot turns it into a feisty performer that can whoosh to 100km/h in about seven seconds and on to 250km/h.
The brakes (Brembos) and quick electric-boosted steering are, in a word, superb.
Occupant accommodation is A1, probably best in class, and there's a decent-sized boot, which can be extended via the 60:40 split-fold rear seats.
Visibility is fine, but when we snicked the gear lever into reverse, we looked in vain for a reversing camera.
For that, you need to buy the Sport Premium – at an extra $8000 – which gets you a fabulous 360-degree camera with park assistance, 10-speaker Bose sound, panoramic sunroof, dualzone climate control and Nappa leather.
Reversing cameras are standard in most new cars these days, even in some economy hatches. But the Q30, which has a driveaway price of close on $50,000, gets only a pair of rear sensors.
We loved the car's fit and finish, its inherent performance and its impressive fuel economy; we averaged 7.0litres/100km and the official figure is 6.3, no doubt quite attainable on a long country cruise.
Very little engine or road noise enters the cabin, which makes the drive that much more enjoyable.
Its eager pace and composed manners indicate it would be happier on the 200km/h-plus autoroutes of Europe than dawdling about at half that speed on Oz roads.
Drivers can easily go a bit quicker than intended but are reminded of the local limit by a picture of the relevant traffic sign that flashes up on the screen.
Verdict: A class act for folk who want something different from the rest.
No reversing camera is a glaring omission.
The stylish Infiniti Q30 Sport attracts a lot of envious looks.