Hello Lebanon! As some of you know, we had the chance to take the INFINITI Q30 for a weekend spin a while ago, and now we bring you our review!
And off we go
"Great design supported by reliable Japanese quality, and a luxury badge at an affordable price are the selling points of the INFINITI Q30"
It probably already caught your eye on the street. The Q30’s design is polarizing but we found out that many of you are in love with the styling, and so are we. We Lebanese are very picky when it comes to style in every aspect of our lives, and that trait surely extends to our choice of cars! So what can we say about your typical guy/girl who drives a Q30? We think that what we found in the door panels: a Massimo Dutti etiquette and a couple of ABC clothing discount cards, says enough about the average Q30 driver. Most people will buy this car as an extension of their image and design is the first priority.
A luxury car at an affordable price:
Starting at $39,900 (incl. VAT & Registration), the Q30 is indeed an affordable choice should you want to step in the luxury car segment without poking a huge hole in your pocket. The car has been successful so far, to the point that it accounts for 50% of INFINITI car sales, which is huge. It also enters a non-existing segment in luxury territory since it identifies as a mini-crossover or a lifted hatchback (people see it differently). Its competitors are the likes of BMW X1 or 1-series, Audi’s Q3 or A3 Hatchback, Volvo’s V40 Hatchback and Mini’s Countryman, so yeah; let us know if you see it as a car or a crossover!
To check out what other options and prices are on the menu, click here.
We got the entry level to test out, it’s powered by a 1.6L turbocharged engine and let us tell you, we were honestly blown away by the performance coming from such a small engine. The turbo really does make a difference when it comes to torque, you can feel the car pulling whether you’re in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th gear. Note that this car has a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 driving modes. Sport restricts shifting for higher revs, Eco suits city driving and normal highway driving, and Manual which gives you all the control when it comes to shifting. We enjoyed the Manual mode the most, and the Eco mode when we were lazy. We didn’t find the Sports mode necessary, but other people might enjoy it on open roads if they don’t like to shift themselves.
Just a quick note on the engine and transmission, they’re both Mercedes. This is the first joint-venture between the 2 companies and you can actually feel that the ride and handling are quite similar. The Q30 is built on the A and GLA class platform.
What else did we discover?
A couple of hours after driving off the dealership, we started getting adventurous and we didn’t shy off putting the pedal to the metal, and that’s when we discovered the wonders of emergency braking. As we were clearing through some traffic, we were surprised by the automatic brake application. Emergency braking assesses how fast you’re approaching the car in front of you and gives you 2 warnings depending on the speed. The first one is a red triangle sign on the dashboard, the second is a warning beep and if it’s too late the car will brake by itself. Doesn’t work in slow speeds though, so you can’t count on it braking while you Whatsapp your friends and family.
Trip to Hamra:
Inside the city, the Q30 performs well, especially on Eco mode. You would sometimes wish that the throttle was more responsive on slow speeds, but other than that its behavior is above average. The seats are supportive and the interior comfortable should you get stuck in traffic for a little while. It’s then when you notice the build quality of the interior. And although the seats are not leather, the stitching on the dashboard and steering wheel built from premium leather do give you this feeling of luxury. It’s a car that you enjoy putting your hands on, pun intended. There are soft touches wherever you rest your hands.
A feature that proved handy in the city is the automatic engine stop, turning the engine off when you come to a full stop in traffic, and turning it back on as you release the brakes. We were not personally fans of this feature before trying it, but it’s not intrusive at all, and saves you lots of fuel. A car consumes the most fuel when you're stationary with the engine on.
Trip from Antelias to Adma:
On a night out to enjoy dinner at Arze’s restaurant in Adma, we got the chance to experience some decent highway driving. Luxury cars are known to be happy highway cruisers, and the Q30 lives by the moto. We know our Lebanese roads do not always allow for open highway driving, but if you do this commute every once in a while, you’ll enjoy every bit. The car will also look after you if you swerve outside of your lane. This is the lane departure warning system: the steering wheel will vibrate in your hands should you be moving out of your lane. We at Karrenn hold safety features in high regard and appreciate these additions that aim at further reducing the possibility of an accident.
Trip to Zaarour:
On a sunny Sunday, I decided to take my family on a lunch trip to the mountain and let my father drive. I wanted to see how the car would perform with a full family of four going up the hills. Power was enough and I could tell that my father was enjoying the ride from his undivided focus. As for me, I found the back to be a bit claustrophobic. The seating is comfortable but outwards visibility is limited which is what gave me this feeling.
Sitting in the back, I was thinking back on my experience in the car and I had just remembered the trade-offs for an affordable luxury car: there are no electric or leather seats, no sunroof and no premium sound. Another thing I noticed after all these drives is that the handling on corners is Sporty but the natural downside to this is a slightly bumpy ride. And finally the infotainment leaves much to be desired. Its software design feels a bit outdated, and it took me a good 10 minutes to connect my phone through Bluetooth for the first time to play some music, then it becomes easier because your phone will connect automatically. There are other infotainment systems that are much easier to use, this one can take some getting used to.
But does all that matter? From my perspective, some of the issues were just secondary, besides the infotainment system because I have high expectations when it comes to car tech. The buyers that this car attracts will first be drawn because of its looks and its luxury badge, we don’t expect the issues we mentioned to be a let-down, but let us know what you think!
Note: We had the chance to let 2 of our community members drive the car in this short weekend, and here’s what they had to say:
“The Q30 is an unbalanced combination of luxury and sports. It’s certainly fun to drive, to an extent. It gives you a sweet taste of its turbo charged engine and then cuts the thrill just before you feel fulfilled, which comes as a slap waking you to the limitation of the 1.6L engine. The interior is very relaxing and fun due to some technological features such as automatic lights, brakes and just about everything else. The steering wheel even vibrates when you’re on a lane line, making it fun to drive in a Lebanese attitude and enjoy the hand massage.” – Tarek Jabre
“I think that the Infiniti Q30 is a lovely crossover which gives a good impression of luxury for a relatively affordable price. It offers everything you might expect from a luxury car: striking looks, classy interior, advanced tech, sporty dynamics, comfort and confident steering and handling... and of course the brand name! Add to the package a good dose of Japanese reliability and you have bargain, for less than 40k $. It does suffer from a few issues though, the major one being the infotainment system. It looks very uninspired and dull, as it was developed by a beginner. It is also rather elusive for the driver which makes it hard to reach while driving, aside from being complicated to use. Aside from that, the car does poorly on bumpy roads. It is certainly not for off-roading. I also found it a tad bit claustrophobic in the back, especially with the narrow rear windows. Still, the many positives overshadow the few negatives as the car still feels and acts classy. The tested 1.6 turbocharged engine should be sporty enough. If not, you can still get the sportier 2.0 turbocharged one, which will however be thirstier on fuel. The current car also offers an impressive amount of tech, feels comfortable, and rides confidently.” – Eddy Sawaya
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