CHARGED with raising the awareness of the Infiniti brand in this country closer to the acclaim it enjoys elsewhere in the world is not the easiest of tasks.
But the Q30 front-wheel-drive small SUV crossover and its all-wheel-drive QX30 stable mate are not short of weapons in their armoury.
The Q30 is offered in Australia with three engine choices - a 1.6l GT petrol, 2.0l petrol and 2.2l diesel, with the latter two offered in Sports and Sports Premium versions of Infiniti's smallest offering.
The Q30 family shares much of its DNA including chassis, engines and interior with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class thanks to a partnership between Nissan/Renault and Daimler, which is no bad starting point at all.
Infiniti may want to distance itself from comparisons with Benz but is difficult to hide in an interior that leaves few doubts.
If the power seat buttons on the door and the indicator stalks don't give it away, the decidedly familiar switchgear, flat-bottomed steering wheel as well as air-conditioner and radio controls are hard to ignore.
Interestingly, the link adds to the cabin ambience rather than detracting from it, with comfortable seats, leather dashboard top and brushed metal highlights completing a rather pleasant package.
The Q30 feels quite spacious for its size and while room for back seat passengers does to some extent depend on the generosity of those in front, kids will do well enough in the rear pew.
Visibility is good, storage practical and 430 litres of luggage space was big enough for the school bags and a smallish weekly shop during my week-long family test.
On the road
Our test car featured the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol, paired like the rest of the range with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Without doubt, on shorter more confined city drives this proves a reliable combination with the softer more pliant suspension making for a comfortable drive.
When pushed around the 100kmh mark, it feels like the Q30 is being made to work harder.
Thankfully there is no whining or histrionics though and it soon settles down to a workable pace.
The Q30 is nimble on its feet, braking is good but while the steering is sharp it unsurprisingly offers little feel. The raised ride height may be great for visibility but it also means the Q30 leans more into corners, especially if you push it through sharply.
What do you get?
The inclusions list for this base model Q30 can hold its own with competitors. Standard are 18-inch wheels, seven-inch colour touchscreen with sat-nav, bluetooth with voice recognition and rear parking sensors.
A five-star ANCAP rating is there thanks to seven airbags and autonomous emergency braking, but you have to opt for the Sports Premium model for a full suite of driver aids.
Fuel economy claims for the 1.6l petrol is 6.0l/100km with real-world testing closer to 7.5l/100km.
Infiniti offers a four-year/100,000km warranty with a capped-price servicing program for the first three services ($1653). Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km.
Look to the Mini Countryman ($34,150), BMW X1 ($51,600), Audi Q3 ($42,900) and Mercedes GLA ($43,600).
Smaller cars have a strong following here in Australia and the luxury variety are definitely in demand.
The space and drive offered by the Q30 holds it in good stead. There is no reverse camera for the lower end of the range, not even as an option, which is annoying given that less expensive cars include them.
There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto across the range either: unusual for a technology-driven brand.
The angles and lines which can be polarising in Infiniti's larger offerings just seem to work here in the Q30. Its distinctive appearance with that trademark grille, proud balanced stance and modern outlook drew many positive comments during our week at the wheel. It is nice to have a car that marches to its own drummer.
Infiniti says the mid-level 2.0-litre Sport model will probably be the best seller in this range but from where we are sitting the entry model is not without its charms.
It is a solid all-round car with interesting looks, a decent drive and strong standard features. In fact the Q30 range as a whole, as well as the QX30 all-wheel-drive variant, is certain to raise the brand's profile in Australia.
Model: Infiniti Q30.
Details: Five-door front-wheel-drive small crossover SUV.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 115W @ 5300rpm and peak torque of 250Nm @ 1250-4000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Consumption: 6.0 litres/100km combined.
Bottom line plus on roads: From $38,900.
What matters most
What we liked: Comfortable drive, cabin ambience.
What we'd like to see: Reverse camera as standard, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Warranty and Servicing: Four year/100,000km warranty with capped-price servicing for three services.
Driving experience 14/20
Features and equipment 14/20
Functionality and comfort 16/20
Value for money 16/20
Style and design 15/20
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