Local Hero

Infinit’s new Q30 is destined to be a real local hero. The car that puts this car manufacturer firmly on the map in the UK.

Best of all and a proud boast for us Northerners, it is being built on our doorstep at Sunderland’s Nissan plant.

The Q30 is firmly aimed at taking on the BMW 1 series, Mercedes A Class and the Audi A3. It looks very smart with its mix of saloon and small SUV.

At its base, the car’s suspension and engine come courtesy of competitor Mercedes.

That’s a cosmopolitan mix of a Japanese car built in Sunderland with essential German components.

This mix of cultures mean the Q30 benefits from German efficiency, Japanese reliability and the solid build quality associated with the Wearside Nissan plant.

The car’s edgy interior makes a refreshing change to its competitors bland-looking alternatives, but the touchscreen infotainment system is a little bit of a let-down.

That said, it may be a little harsh on Infiniti as it really isn’t the worst I’ve seen and isn’t too bad considering it’s made up of Mercedes cast-off parts.

The Q30 is available in three trim specs. The entry level SE, the mid-range premium and the top of the range sport. In its sport guise, the car looks a lot meaner. Lower, stiffer suspension twinned with aggressive bumpers means it panders to the younger target market. It’s not just the look that is boosted, though. The sport spec also means weighted steering, making the car feel more like a go-kart than a saloon come SUV.

The best-selling engine in the range is likely to be the 1.5-litre diesel, which has been sourced from Renault with the other three engines available sources from (surprise, surprise) Mercedes.

It may not surprise you to know that the dual clutch gearbox is also supplied courtesy of Mercedes. A manual gearbox is available with smaller engines and larger engines get the option of four wheel drive.

I drove the 2.2-litre diesel engine, again courtesy of Mercedes. To be honest, it sounded quite agricultural. To try and address the noise and refinement issue the engineers at Infiniti have attempted to alter the acoustics by using noise cancelling technology. Having driven both the Q30 and the A Class and I can honestly say that the engineers’ attempts have worked as the Q30 is much quieter than the A class.

The Q30 is no slow poke either and has plenty of power to overtake in a seamless manner. The ace up the Q30’s sleeve is its fantastic handling. British road-proof suspension keeps passengers extremely well-cushioned on the worst of B roads and whenever you feel like driving the car in a sporty manner it really steps up to the plate and doesn’t disappoint at all.

At speed, the car really suffers from excessive wind and tyre noise and unfortunately not even the geniuses at Infiniti have managed to solve these issues.

The 1.5-litre engine really needs to be worked hard to make any real progress; the 2.0-litre petrol engine is slightly zippier but the pick of the three has to be the 2.2-litre engine.

The car’s top speed is 134mph and it gets to 62mph in a spritely 8.5 seconds.

In the right hands it should also average around 50mpg. Passengers have plenty of headroom and the boot is also a decent size for most growing families. This car will definitely put Infiniti on the map, but it doesn’t quite beat the class leading Audi A3.

With prices ranging from £20,550 to £27,300 it offers value for money, too.

Anyone looking for something different to the boring German competitors should head on down to our local Infiniti dealership.

There will be one car on-site for viewing and driving ahead of the launch on January 16.

Car courtesy of Infiniti Centre Newcastle | infinitinewcastle.com