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Nissan Infiniti Q30

PUBLISHED: 12:07 30 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:07 30 December 2015

Nissan Infinit Q30

Nissan Infinit Q30

Archant

The all-new Infiniti sees Nissan's premium arm take on the dominant Germans in an attempt to crack the premium executive hatchback sector

As premium brand names go, it’s hard to better Infiniti. It implies no boundaries to excellence in comfort, engineering, design and all the other disciplines you would expect from any modern car, but Nissan’s posh badge has yet to reach such horizons, let alone disappear beyond them.

Admittedly, it’s not for want of trying in terms of value, as no other premium brand delivers quite so many bangs for your bucks. And I use that expression advisedly, because part of the brand’s problem is that Infinitis have previously been geared to the tastes of North American drivers, more than those of Britain and Europe, the backyard for posh German marques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

That should change this month, however, when Infiniti launches the all-new Q30 executive hatchback (from £20,550), with the added sales boost from being UK-built at Nissan’s hugely successful Sunderland plant.

It’s good looking too, with the sleek yet powerful stance we come to expect from Infiniti, but it must deliver driving dynamics better than the ‘relaxed’ standard demanded in the USA and Canada; good handling and an enjoyable drive bestows the credibility from which prestige and sheer snob value is derived on this side of the Atlantic; BMW’s rise to UK dominance being the perfect example.

Admittedly, the Q30 won’t have much trouble seeing off BMW’s 1 Series hatch as far as looks are concerned, but the rear-wheel drive Beemer is the stand out driver’s car in the premium hatch sector. The Q30, which is said to be based on the underpinnings of the rival Mercedes-Benz A-Class, is front-driven, as indeed are those other Teutonic competitors the Audi A3 and VW Golf – yes, the latter does stray into the premium hatch buyers’ thinking – Volvo’s excellent V40, and the sector’s hybrid contender, the Lexus CT.

Of course, front-wheel drive doesn’t mean the Infiniti will be a dog – it offers great agility and entertainment in cars of this size – but the Q30 must perform.

If it does, it will bring much-needed attention and recruit valuable customers to bigger models in the line-up; the important first step to ‘doing a BMW.’

But while there is prestige at stake, first impressions from the company car sector will play a key part.

The Q30 will be offered with 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines, but the key focus will be the tax efficiency and economy of the car’s 1.5 and 2.2-litre diesels.

Infiniti Q30

Price: from £20,550

Driving appeal: the jury’s out

Image: ****

Space: ****

Value: *****

Running costs: ****

Reliability: *****

How green?: ****

Best rival: Audi A3

News in brief

Spider set to catch buyers

Later this year and half a century on from the original car’s arrival, FIAT will launch this elegant new 124 Spider (open-top two-seater). The car should appeal on three levels: with styling paying homage to its illustrious predecessor (1966-1985), underpinnings from the latest Mazda MX-5 roadster – a byword for rear-wheel drive handling and entertainment, and FIAT’s own lively powertrains.

XE goes AWD

Last time Jaguar launched a compact saloon with all-wheel drive (AWD) it was accused of distracting buyers from everyday versions of the ill-fated X-Type, which defied Jag tradition by being front-wheel drive. This time, Jaguar has already enjoyed great acclaim with the rear-driven XE, launched last year, and now offers AWD on the big-selling 178bhp 2.0-litre XE diesel variant (from £26,990).

DS brand grows

Young French premium brand DS – spun from former parent Citroën last year – has added the DS4 (from £19,495) and DS Crossback (£21,745) to its portfolio. Although largely a facelift from the car’s former guise as the Citroën DS4, with distinctive new DS front end and new colours and trimming, the higher riding Crossback - with clever traction control - does offer a fresh option.

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