How the 2017 Infiniti QX30 Makes Practicality Exciting
While some of us have friends who get us into trouble, most of us have friends who are great passengers on life’s Route 66; the kind of friends who help catapult us toward our goals, hopes and dreams. Call those special people your partners in crime, or the even sappier “wind beneath your wings”, but whatever cliche you use, when you take time to appreciate friendships that have evolved into partnerships, you’ll likely experience a swelling of emotions.
Driving the 2017 Infiniti QX30 reminds me of friendships I hold dear. If I were to sit down and compile a list of why I love my best friends, one standout item would be how they’re geysers of practicality. They are a million other things to me, rest assured, but from the practicality standpoint, these people are a wellspring of utility for helping me find more meaning and beauty in life every day.
Just like my closest friends, the QX30 is also a geyser of practicality. It’s not just a comfortable and luxurious tool for getting you from point A to point B. You get the sense from this car that it’s excited to drive you to your office, or yoga appointment or fencing match. There’s an innate friendliness about it. I never thought practicality mixed with luxury could have such an effect on me. I never thought a car could make me excited about its general everyday usefulness, but it’s like there’s something alive in this thing that’s telling you it wants to be your partner in crime, or perhaps a partner in your crime-solving. It’s like the Watson to your Sherlock. Ironically, this is a British-built Infiniti.
I’m in the business of being charmed by cars actively trying to kill me, or get me arrested. Instead, the Infiniti QX30 has charmed me by how actively it’s trying to serve me.
But the QX30’s practical charm isn’t enough to make me want to buy one. I’m someone who loves it when absolute horsepower corrupts a set of tires absolutely. The Infiniti QX30 is powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque; that’s municipal-level power — not federal dictatorship power, ergo not enough power for corruption. I’d seriously consider a QX30 if it had the Mercedes-AMG GLA45’s hand-built 2.0L four-cylinder turbo with 375 horsepower.
I mention the GLA because the Infiniti QX30 is based off the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, but you’d never know it with the finely crafted body sculpting Infiniti pulled off. By every stretch of my imagination, the QX30 looks better, inside and out, than the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. The QX30’s exterior styling is bolder, more progressive and more expressive, and you needn’t even sit inside the compact crossover to discover the interior quality is a class above the GLA. Simply standing outside the vehicle will tell you that, but when you do actually get inside the QX30, you’ll be treated to better-quality materials, and your eyes will appreciate how the navigation screen has been integrated into the dash instead of awkwardly sticking out of the top of it.
So what Infiniti has done is they’ve taken a Mercedes-Benz GLA, and they’ve improved it in every conceivable way. Once the Infiniti QX30 goes on sale in September, unless you’re considering a Mercedes-AMG GLA45, there is no reason to go for the Mercedes version over this. Some folks may prefer the more conservative styling of the GLA, but that’s because they suffer from macular degeneration. This is the better-looking vehicle.
And that’s what pains me most about the QX30. Here’s a car that’s better than the GLA-Class on which it’s based, but there likely will never be a performance version like the GLA45 AMG. That’s unsettling. A car that looks this good deserves some speed to back it up.
At launch the QX30 will be available in three trim lines. The base QX30 FWD will start at $29,950. The looker of the bunch, the QX30 FWD Sport (featured in the video above), will carry a base price of $38,500, and the QX30 AWD (pictured) will start at $34,400. This is a great lineup for basic consumers, but what about for folks like me? I’d happily pay a starting price of $46,950 for an all-wheel-drive Infiniti QX30 Red Sport 375. Come on, guys. Just slip that hot AMG motor in there and call it a day.
I can imagine the roadblocks Mercedes-AMG would likely erect to prevent such a car from seeing production, but stepping down to a less horsepower-hungry perspective, I’m disappointed the QX30 Sport is available only in front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive is sporty like sweaty armpits smell good. In other words, front-wheel drive isn’t sporty. The QX30 Sport should have an all-wheel-drive option. I salivate thinking about tuning one of those from 208 to 300 horsepower, and creating a more luxurious and better-looking Volkswagen Golf R fighter.
So as it stands, the QX30 isn’t targeted toward enthusiasts, but it easily could be. The Sport model doesn’t drive like a soft-roader at all. It feels like an urban warrior with the way it can dart around downtown corners, and when you want to rush through the rare open spaces that present themselves in concrete jungle traffic, you’ll be delighted by immediate throttle response coupled with the turbocharged engine’s plentiful torque and power. On the open road the QX30 still feels like a willing accomplice. It never feels slow.
But even though the Sport model is the prettiest in the lineup, and has the best driving dynamics, I wouldn’t recommend it unless it had all-wheel drive and 300 horsepower.
The QX30 I would recommend is the all-wheel drive model. It rides 1.8 inches higher than the Sport model, but it doesn’t give up as much sportiness as I had imagined it would. It’s not as willing to change direction as the Sport model, but it still retains a fun-to-drive disposition. The QX30 AWD also supasses the Sport with its superior ride comfort. The AWD model’s suspension is tuned softer than the Sport, but more importantly, the ride is quieter, too, thanks to the AWD’s 235/50R18 Continental ProContact TX SSR tires. The Sport model rides on lower-profile 235/45R19 Goodyear Efficient Grip RunOnFlat tires, which translate more road noise into the cabin than I’d prefer. But again, I could overlook the elevated interior noise if the Sport model offered all-wheel drive.
I wouldn’t be so bitter about the limitations of the Sport model if I didn’t like this car, but I really like it. It does almost everything you need a car to do, and it does it more than well … it does it willingly. I wrote “almost everything” because the only downfall I can report is that the QX30’s dead pedal is too small. My shoe size is 8.5, and even I couldn’t place my entire foot on its rightful rest area. Over long drives it could become tiresome having to point your toes to the right to rest your left foot. Hopefully that comfort issue is something that can be fixed for model year 2018.
Despite my left foot’s discontent, when the QX30 begins arriving in U.S. dealerships later next month, I hope they sell well. This is one of the best Infinitis you can buy. Whether you like them or not, the crossover craze is following a Pokémon Go trajectory. At least this entry-luxury crossover goes about its practical ethos in an exciting manner. It’s tough to flavor practicality with excitement, but Infiniti has achieved that with the QX30, and that deserves a round of applause.
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