2017 Infiniti QX30
It looks like the lines between hatchback “car” and crossover “utility vehicle” have finally been obliterated entirely. As proof we present the Infiniti QX30, the latest addition to the growing compact luxury CUV market here in the U.S., but basically the same vehicle is also known as the Q30 hatchback in Europe. And that’s just the beginning of the blurred lines for this this dynamic little 5-door hatchback…sorry…crossover.
Yes, this 2017 Infiniti QX30 is many things to many people. But what really matters here, is that it arrives at a perfect time; when Americans can’t seem to get enough small luxury crossovers.
Oh, and for those of you who have been bemoaning the fact that you can’t buy a Mercedes-Benz A-class hatchback here; well, now you can, because that’s what’s under the QX30’s way more dynamic bodywork.
Yes, this is the first vehicle to emerge from the Renault/Nissan/Daimler partnership announced last year. And though the overall stance and silhouette are very similar to the Mercedes-Benz GLA crossover; it’s much better looking, if you speak Infiniti’s design language like we do, we’d pick this one over the GLA.
There’s a decent 8.0-inches of ground clearance, same as the GLA. Unless of course you opt for front-wheel-drive only Sport trim. Which to confuse things further, really is the Q30 also known as the A-Class hatchback, with its hard parts just 6.1–inches above the pavement. It also comes with some minor unique exterior elements.
Infiniti engineers had their way with the suspension of course, so it rides nothing like the GLA. It felt stiffer initially, but better the more time we spent with it; no suspension altering drive modes to be found here.
It drives lively, not economy car-like at all; straddling the comfort/capability line almost perfectly. Leaning slightly more towards the tougher end than some other “sporty crossovers”, which is no longer a weird thing to say. Yet it remains exceptionally quiet.
There’s good pick-up from the standard 2.0-liter turbo I4 and 7-speed DCT transmission, both of which come from Mercedes; as does the key to get things started. Software for managing all of it, however, comes from Nissan, still the overall feel is very Benz, and ratings are the same at 208-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque.
The Intelligent all-wheel-drive system is also a version of Benz’s 4MATIC, which can send as much as 50% of torque to the rear wheels when slip is detected.
There was noticeable turbo-lag, and an overall softer launch than when we had the GLA, but the resulting 0-60 time was still not bad at 6.8-seconds.
As is usually the case, if you’re looking for the best outcome, just leave it in auto, as manual shifting was slow to respond. Still, there was a nice whoosh of sound coming from the turbo-4 as it powered us to the end of the ¼-mile in 15.1-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour.
Through the cones, there’s a playful nature; with minimal amounts of both under and oversteer. Suspension feels taut, and it remained very flat.
Infiniti also tweaked the steering to their liking, but they did it no favors as far as we’re concerned. It’s loose feeling on-center, and there’s an awkward heft when making inputs.
A 110-foot stopping average from 60 is very good, and stops were both smooth and stable. But after about 4-runs, fatigue set in and brakes started to fade.
Inside the QX30’s cabin is where things depart most from its Mercedes-Benz roots. There are still some GLA controls on the dash, but things appear much more inviting. Material quality is quite good.
Infiniti owners who aren’t familiar with the GLA will enjoy the refreshing new take on layout, as well as find the fit-and finish they are used to. The most obvious Benz element is the door mounted seat control; but they work so well, we’re glad Infiniti left them alone.
Both central controller and shifter are unique, with a nice obvious Park button.
There’s a comfortable seating position for the driver; but visibility is very poor, with thick pillars in back as well as a very small rear window.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for all-wheel-drive are 21-City, 30-Highway, and 25-Combined; so our 30.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium average was excellent.
Still there’s only an average Energy Impact Score of 13.2-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emissions of 6.0-tons.
With many different QX30s to choose from, $30,945 to start seems reasonable, considering it’s about 2-grand cheaper than a GLA.
So, while the Mercedes-Benz GLA came to market earlier, don’t think of this 2017 Infiniti QX30 as a re-badged Benz, but a cooperative effort along the lines of Toyota and Subaru with the 86 and BRZ. It is highly competitive with the current influx of cute utes, as well as a perfect step up for open-minded hatchback buyers. We predict this international coalition will be quite successful.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 208
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 15.1 seconds @ 92 mph
- EPA: 21 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 6.0 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined