The 2017 Infiniti QX30 is the latest member in the growing compact luxury SUV field, already populated by the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes-Benz GLA, among others.

The QX30 isn't a completely fresh entry, as it shares underpinnings with the German-made Mercedes-Benz GLA, including the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and transmission. This leg up was made possible through a deal between Infiniti's corporate owner, Renault, and Germany's Daimler.

That brings up a few interesting points to consider: If you're shopping an Infiniti, you may be drawn to Japanese reliability. However, Consumer Reports' latest reliability survey shows that many Nissan/Infiniti models are below average, helping to sink the brands in our automaker report cards.



And if you're thinking that since the QX30 is based on a Mercedes-Benz, it must surely deliver a classically rewarding German driving experience. Well, not so fast. As we found in our tests, if you expect real Mercedes qualities-such as a hushed cabin, plush ride, and a vault-like solid feel-you'll be disappointed.

You can almost get dizzy wrapping your head around the complete 'worldliness' of this car: It wears a Japanese logo, has German running gear, and it's built in the United Kingdom. The QX30 is like the U.N. on wheels.

The four-cylinder engine puts out 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission is a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic that comes with three driving modes: Eco, Manual, and Sport.

Eco is designed to improve fuel economy; Manual allows the driver to select gears via the paddle shifters; and Sport adds some increased responsiveness and is supposed to make the whole powertrain feel livelier. Infiniti says that the transmission is more responsive than what's in the GLA with different shift points and throttle mapping.

The first two trim lines will be the base (with front-wheel drive) and Sport (also FWD only). The top-tier model, simply called AWD, gets (as you might guess) all-wheel drive and has higher ground clearance. AWD is not available on the base or Sport version; Infiniti anticipates a large chunk of sales to be FWD.


Behind the Wheel
Our driving impressions in a rented Sport model show that the 2017 Infiniti QX30 does not have as harsh a ride as the GLA. We also like the powertrain; it feels quick and fairly responsive, once past the initial turbo lag. Handling seems quite tied-down and capable, but we're not ready to say it's better than a Mazda3 or Volkswagen GTI.



Inside, the cabin feels cramped but has lots of soft-touch materials. And while the styling of this Infiniti perhaps leans slightly more to the "sport" side including the Infiniti trademark kink behind the rear door, it really takes a toll on outward visibility. A surround-view camera is optional.

The seats, which Infiniti officials state are different from the ones in the GLA, are mostly comfortable and come with Mercedes-familiar adjustment switches pinned to the upper regions of the door panel. Unlike its GLA donor, the shifter is on the floor rather than on the steering column.

The 2017 Infiniti QX30 comes with Infiniti's InTouch infotainment system, which uses a 7-inch color touch screen and is different than the Q50's, which we found slow and glitch-laden. It's a hybrid of the Mercedes system and Infiniti's own. For instance, you can control it either through the touch screen or the knob between the seats.



While the Mercedes GLA has standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, those important safety features are options on the Infiniti. They should be standard on a luxury car like this.

While pricing was not available at press time, company officials said that the starting price would be "below $30,000," and a typically-equipped model should be around $40,000.

We look forward to more extensive drive time when we purchase one for our test program.