There is a new breed of crossover-style utilities that are becoming popular in the luxury segments. They are part station wagon, part crossover-SUV, part sport coupe. BMW calls them Sport Activity Vehicles. For Infiniti, their premier SAV is the QX30, which is a sport-tuned, coupe-like hatchback crossover that is priced below almost every other subcompact luxury crossover-SUV on the market. All of this makes the 2018 QX30 an extremely likeable vehicle.
For some, the exterior of the 2018 Infiniti QX30 might take some getting used to. This is true of most SAVs, though, and of the options, the QX30 is probably the prettiest. The coupe’d design is very well done with a swooping roofline and nicely clipped rear deck. The interior is also very good, with Infiniti’s signature attention to driver-centric details. A realtor would describe the QX30’s interior as “cozy,” a nice way of saying “almost cramped.” That’s endemic to the QX30’s segment as all subcompact crossovers share this attribute.
We are fans of the Infiniti’s excellent front seating and well-done cabin, but we aren’t fans of the back seating (which is cramped for both head and legroom) or the poor visibility the driver has in every direction but straight ahead. The good news is that with the taller AWD models, getting into the front seats is easy. The bad news is that getting in the back, no matter the drivetrain, requires a little yoga.
The 2018 Infiniti QX30 utilizes a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is standard as well. All-wheel drive is an option and one we’d recommend getting for the added stability and better traction it provides. Going to AWD means giving up the base model and foregoing the Sport model trim, but it’s worth it as the Sport trim’s upgrades aren’t really all that. The Premium trim level, which we drove, is a better choice for its price point and amenities returns.
The Premium trim builds on the Luxury trim level’s leather upholstery, more adjustable front seating, and stitched leather in the dash. The Premium adds LED fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, useful roof rails, and a premium sound system from Bose. Upping to AWD adds over an inch to the QX30’s ride height for more clearance. To the Premium trim can be added a host of packages for even more luxury, including a Technology package we’d recommend because it brings 360-degree cameras and several advanced safety features. Technophiles will also want the Navigation package, which adds on a color display for the instrument cluster and Infiniti InTouch apps.
Driving the 2018 Infiniti QX30 is where this little SAV begins its flirtatious love affair. The QX30 has very sharp handling, a fun presence, and acceleration in this SAV is like a tart candy, hitting you faster than you’d expect. That’s assuming you stay out of E (eco) mode, which makes everything about the QX30 sluggish and boring. In Sport (S) mode, the 2018 QX30 hits the bricks with energy, letting the transmission bounce through gears quickly as the little crossover flies. Manually shifting with the paddle shifters is also fun, but there will be a learning curve to getting the timing right as the delay between paddle pull and actual shift is count-able.
When driving, though, a distinct feeling of confidence is felt from the QX30 with responsive braking, precise steering, and plenty of feedback from the road via the pedals and wheel. This does mean that some may not like the comfort levels when driving the QX30, which are more sports-car than luxury crossover. Cushiness is not a thing in the QX30, but anyone shopping in this segment shouldn’t really be expecting to get that. The point of a subcompact luxury vehicle is fun. Sport is and should be in the vehicle’s name.
In all, we had a great week with the 2018 Infiniti QX30 and very much enjoyed its responsive nature and fun appeal. It may not be the best choice for family hauling, but it’ll get the groceries and keep you entertained while it does.