Some of the biggest brand names in motoring have been around for more than a century, so it is hardly surprising that with a history stretching back only a quarter of that time, Infiniti is small fry on the motoring scene. After 27 years, though, there is a growing awareness of this upper-crust offshoot of Nissan, with its range of Q-badged cars: the Q50 and Q70 saloons, and the beefier-looking QX50 and QX70 crossover models.
Infiniti has now spread its net into wider territory, with the arrival of the Q30. There is an interesting pedigree to this car. Underneath it is pretty much the same model as a Mercedes A-Class, the result of collaboration between Renault and Nissan joining forces with Mercedes.
So the Q30 is something of an international mosaic of a motor: German based, powered by a French engine, assembled in Britain at Nissan’s Sunderland factory, and wearing a Japanese badge.
Six years and counting
Infiniti has only been active in the British car market for six years, so it is hardly surprising that it is still not particularly well known here. But its image is rising, helped by exposure in the glamorous forum of Formula One, where Infiniti is a sponsor of Grand Prix team Red Bull, with its logos seen on the cars in TV coverage.
Until now the least expensive Infiniti has been the Q50, at a starting price of around £30,000. The Infiniti badge, like an oval with a triangle cut out at the bottom, is seen on British roads, but in very modest numbers. So it is not very familiar.
That is set to change with the Q30, very new on the scene and slashing the outlay by a third, priced from just under £20,000 with a petrol engine, and £21,500 upwards for a diesel.
Chic and slick
This chic five-door hatchback is quite prettily styled, with some swoopy curves and an interesting sideways-V shape as a distinctive feature of the rear corners. It has slick driving manners, with brisk performance, pleasantly weighted steering and good ride comfort.
It drives much like a Mercedes A-Class, only more so, with behaviour that is a little sharper and more refined all round. It also slightly undercuts a Merc A on price, and has a larger boot. So for anyone considering the purchase of a new car from the A-Class, BMW 1-Series, Audi A3 or Volvo V40 choice pool, here is a new fish that is certainly worth a look.
Engine options are 1.6 petrol and 1.5 or 2.1 litre diesels with varying power outputs. There are six trim levels, from SE to Sport. The Q30 is brand new for 2016, in showrooms since last month, but so far there are very few on the road ahead of the March 1st new registration plate. From now on we can expect to see Infiniti going further beyond the very limited numbers of its cars seen on UK roads so far.
All images: Sue Baker