Fast Q&A For Mini Clubman and Infiniti Q30

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Strange specs here?

Mini Clubman: The Mini comes as a Cooper S, which means a petrol engine. But this one also has All4, the first non-Countryman Mini to get the 4WD option. That makes it a rival for an A3 quattro. We’ve gone for the manual.

Infiniti Q30: The Infiniti is also AWD, also 2.0-litre petrol. It has a 7spd DCT ’box as standard. Drivetrain and platform are adapted Merc A-Class gear. The Q30 starts out dearer than the Mini but it does have more kit.

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The Great Beyond – Infiniti Q60

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We say: Infiniti’s new coupe has its merits – just don’t go thinking it’s sporty

infiniti-q60Take a good slow look at the Q60 on these pages. It’s going to be a while before you see another. Infiniti’s global sales are small, and in Europe tiny. Despite years of optimistic projections from Infiniti bosses, they’re still struggling at about a tenth of the numbers that BMW, Audi or Mercedes each shift. And it’s not like their cars have been hopeless. Sure, they’re a bit patchy dynamically, but that’s an accusation you could equally level at certain of their rivals’ perfectly successful vehicles. Infiniti also got into crossovers good and early, which should have brought rewards, and these days it has a good range of cars running Mercedes diesel power. But no, the cars continue to languish, and few dealers want to sign up to sell the nameplate.

And in the case of the Q60, it’s patently obvious why it’s going to be as common as a unicorn with a mouthful of hens’ teeth. It comes, in this country at least, only as a 400bhp petrol AWD or a turbo petrol RWD. BMW sells very few 440i xDrives. Audi not a lot of S5 quattros. It’s all 2WD 420ds and

A5 2.0 TDIs, isn’t it? And if BMW and Audi can’t shift many of their petrol coupes, what chance for an almost unknown brand with a tiny dealer network? Infiniti simply can’t justify a diesel in the minority-interest coupe, because diesel is a Europe-only thing and Infiniti sells mostly in the US. Besides their people say the diesel will be all-but doomed come the next round of exhaust-emission changes, and hybrid is the way of the future.

Still, it’s an interesting car that I’m curious to drive. Although it’s based on the (not terribly dynamic) Q50 saloon, it has extensive changes to the suspension and the unique-to-Infiniti drive-by-wire steering. It also has a brand-new engine. Plus you can’t argue it doesn’t look pretty intriguing. Especially in the eye-popping red colour. Infiniti installed a new paint booth at its factory to do just this one colour. It has several clear coats on top and really does look like it’s still wet. Let’s hope the driving is more interesting than watching paint dry.

The engine is very, very loosely based on the successful 3.7-litre VQ V6 that powers many other Infinitis, and Nissans in the US and the 370Z. But this new VR drops to three litres and gets twin turbos. No, it’s not related to the GT-R V6. Each turbo snuggles up close to the cylinder head, and the charge cooler has an unusually short water path. Direct injection and electronic control of the cam phasers completes the spec. It reads like a low-lag engine.

It isn’t, not quite. The throttle feels tardy even as you’re above 4,000rpm. But the engine does rev well and sounds fairly fruity (if not as brassy as the old VQ). It’s the industry-standard story of the arrival of turbos: more power and torque, less of the emotional fizz.

There are seven speeds in the autobox, and unusually gears two and three are pretty short. Accustomed as I am to the leggy ratios farced on us by the Germans, I kept paddling down to second when it wasn’t at all necessary an open Californian roads. I suspect for cramped Britain, this ratio set will be very handy. Pity the ‘box occasionally came over hesitant and slurry under full-torque shifts.

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The engine revs well and sounds fruity, if not as brassy as the old one

Infiniti Q60S Sport

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Infiniti has had a tough time in the UK until recently. The Q30 hatch and QX30 crossover have spiced up a range that comprised tired SUVs and executive saloons. Now it’s the turn of the sleek Q60 coupé, and we’ve driven it in the US for the first time to see if it has what it takes to finally take Europe by storm.

The Q60 sits low and has a sleek, conventional four-seater coupé silhouette. But it’s decorated with more unusual embellishments, like the extravagant C-pillar, wide grille and sculpted flanks. These give the car a very distinctive appearance, making it more than a match for Mercedes’ classy C-Class Coupé.

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At first glance, the inside looks a little busy; despite having two touchscreen displays there are a lot of buttons to contend with, while lower down theres an additional dial that controls the map.

But everything is well finished with high-quality materials, and the seats are plush, with plenty of support and decent bolstering. The range of movement from the front seats and steering wheel means it’s easy to find a suitable driving position, too.

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Despite looking a bit busy, with two touchscreens among all the buttons, Q60’s interior is finished in high-quality materials. The steering wheel and seats offer a decent range of adjustment, ensuring that all shapes and sizes can find a comfortable position

“The Q60S doesn’t shout about its performance; its exhaust is quiet with no crackles on the overrun”

The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 in our Q60S Sport delivers a healthy 400bhp. That’s enough to outshine rivals like the 362bhp Mercedes AMG C 43, the 349bhp Audi S5 and 321 bhp BMW 440i. But the Infiniti doesn’t shout about its performance; despite doing 0-62mph in 5-0 seconds, its exhaust is quiet and there are no unnecessary and contrived pops and crackles on the overrun. Instead the engine revs cleanly and makes a tuneful, if slightly synthetic, noise as it does so.

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The Q60S will return a claimed 31mpg, so it isn’t especially frugal – but that’s the price you pay for 400bhp. CO2 emissions of 208g/km are particularly high. too. Should you want a more cost-effective alternative to the Q60S Sport, the entry-level model gets a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and will set you back around £9,000 less. It’s more economical, with Infiniti claiming 41.5mpg.

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Like Audi, BMW and Mercedes rivals, this car also has a traditional torque converter automatic gearbox. But while the German contenders never leave you wishing for a double-clutch auto, the Q60’s box is slow to react, the changes are lethargic and it’s ultimately frustrating. Although the ratios are low, that doesn’t translate into any sort of immediacy because of the transmission’s lazy character. Still, what the auto lacks in sportiness, it gains in refinement.

The well mannered drivetrain complements the lack of wind and tyre noise, creating a quiet cabin. This means the Q60S never feels that fast. It isn’t slow, however, surreptitiously building pace only to surprise you with how fast youre going.

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The coupé is well equipped to deal with swift driving, though. Adaptive dampers keep the body in-check and help to reduce roll, while also ensuring a comfortable edge. Sadly the Infiniti doesn’t ride in the same luxurious fashion established by the drivetrain and interior. It never property settles unless on a perfectly smooth road.

Like many of its rivals, the Q60S has four-wheel drive. This system drives the rear axle most of the time, but a centre differential can distribute torque to the front axle if necessary. It also features brake-enabled torque vectoring, and when combined with the all-wheel drive, the car feels very nimble.

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Sadly, the fly-by-wire steering doesn’t transmit enough information through the front tyres for you to gauge your corner entry speed intuitively. The Q60S responds resolutely to your inputs, though, following the path you set. Select the Sport+ driving mode and the electronic stability system slackens off, but it isn’t enough to make the car truly playful.

PRACTICALITY

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The coupé roofline doesn’t allow much headroom for rear passengers, but there’s enough space in the back for two at a squeeze. Boot space isn’t bad, but the 342-litre bay cant match the 400 litres of the Mercedes C-Class Coupé

STYLING

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Gold styling gives the Q60 an imposing face, while the coupé body shape is considered and well proportioned. Two-screen set-up inside is confusing, though, and there’s an additional dial on the centre console to control the map

VERDICT

The Q60 is a stylish coupé. As well as a powerful twin-turbo V6, four-wheel drive and adaptive dampers, this Sport model has a host of safety kit including radar cruise control and lane assist. However, there isn’t much fun to be had behind the wheel, as the electronic aids rob you of any real involvement. Ultimately, it’s not enough to challenge the German establishment, and will ensure Infinlti stays a niche choice.

ESSENTIALS


infiniti-q60-logoInfiniti Q60S Sport

Price: 42,990
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo v6 petrol
Power/torque: 400bhp/475Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62 mph: 5.0 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Economy: 31mpg
CO2: 208g/km
On sale: Now

NEED TO KNOW

Q60S has fly-by-wire steering, and as there’s no connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels, you get very little feedback

Infiniti Q50 S AWD Hybrid

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There are many (and alarming) signals that emphasize that I am inexorably aging. For example getting excited for controversially exciting things, forgetting what I ate for lunch yesterday, or shuddering at the thought of having to upgrade my Smartphone software, and so on. At work I am also going through that stage where an involuntary arrogance (I promise that) leads me to always expect more from supercars and less and less from more human proposals, but that invariably end up taking home most of my praise. The passion for this work has remained intact, it makes me wake up at dawn with my legs trembling for the road I’m going to find out at the wheel of a car full of secrets to discover, with the responsibility of having on my shoulders the fact of carrying out an objective analysis for some and a subjective one for others.

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Personally I think there are no half measures, a car has to convey emotions and be able to conquer and emotions are not only made of big wings and powerful engines – of course, these are the best ones, but were a lot and someone is looking for something slightly different for everyday’s use. A car can be good doing its job properly, being able to get us from A to B in the best way possible and not making us regret we woke up before the alarm begins to sing, imagine if you have also bought that new. There are proposals that they know to be less formal than usual, but that aim to meet a slice of the most difficult customers than those who need a weapon ready to be whipped between a corner and the other – yep, cause you have only one way for doing that well. The Infini- ti Q50S AWD Hybrid is not a new kitchen blender model, but the sedan on which Nissan’s luxury branch concentrates its energies in terms of technology and everyday usability.

Found that there are also interesting models in the Hybrid Team, with the 3 fastest hypercars in the world as ambassadors, this technology is increasingly being used on cars that we drive every day, trying to decrease fuel consumption and at the same time air pollution. In practice, feeling friends of the snow Groundhog, we will also be friends of our wallet, without having to give up our innermost desire, to throw our frustration on some secondary road driving like bandits. Also in this case hybrid technology can give its contribution – not keeping the combustion engine switched off, but emphasizing the overall performance.

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I will tell you the truth, I’m still trying to figure out what color was the example I tested, it was black basically, but under the sun it was almost deep purple, but without chanting “Smoke on the water”. A choice, that of such a peculiar color, which makes you immediately tuned into what you can expect, ie a medium-large sedan away from conventions, but that wants at all costs to get into the large German dominatrix club.

The Q50S in question is equipped with four-wheel drive in combination with a combustion engine, a 3.5cc V6-cylinder and a rechargeable power unit feeding itself while driving downhill and braking, for a total power of 364 horsepower. Here comes the difficult part, since after checking that the exterior look is sharp and edgy at the same time (front), soft and harmonious (at the rear), the cabin looks like the command bridge of the USS Enterprise, but without all the officers giving you support to operate the take-off maneuvers. There are several buttons scattered here and there, a knob to manage the display and even a second display.

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The instruction manual would compete with a Latin dictionary I have at home and then I decide to discover little by little what I can in the weeks of tests, hoping not to program for self-destruction. What I want to understand in first place is how this big engine behaves mated to a saloon suitable for those who need to grind a lot of km in full comfort. The gearbox is an automatic 7-speed and above the ability to change gears with the classic lever, there are two beautiful paddle behind the steering wheel, of the right size and material – not forcing me to miss a beat, even when I realize that there is power in abundance. Here I am surprised, again for an unusual car like this. I did not like the Aventador SV and I find myself praising a hybrid Infiniti? Yes, you read right. Along the first kilometers, downhill, I’m traveling in total silence, in electric mode, then I accentuate the pressure on the accelerator pedal and a spark gives life to the V6 – you feel it when it comes into play, who was walking in the street notices that too and is startled, almost fearing to be hit by this unusual sedan.

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You only see a few of them around, and those few pass almost unnoticed, but after living together for several days, you can’t but look at it with respect and a touch of melancholy.

infiniti-q50s-optionYou wonder what’s so special and to prepare my best answers I have not chilled for a moment. Four-wheel drive always bites and understeer peeps only when you call into que-stion the great reserves of torque, but what surprises me most is the type of connection with the asphalt. The steering is in fact assisted with a “drive by wire” system wanted by a certain Seb Vettel which has made its contribution here while still at the Red Bull Team, and going to select balancing and calibration of the suspension and steering from the interface placed in the middle of the dashboard you will find the mode you want. Needless to say, with more than 350hp I was only caring about using the more sportier trim of them all even if this led me to be cruel towards ecology, going to exploit every possible strip of tarmac to throw those almost two tons from one corner to the other.

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The road becomes steeper, goes up and seems to point straight to the clouds – its not a “road to paradise”, but a classic escape from town boredom, represented by a French mountain snake very dear to us. Now I think I know by heart every curve and also thanks to a traffic reduced to zero the situation allows me to go down hard. The Q50S pulls like a banshee, getting at 2500/3000 rpm seems to be fired from a slingshot and thrown forward, brakes are powerful and do not get tired, even though I repeatedly press longer than necessary, especially when I forgot that I still have 3 seats and an ample luggage compartment behind me. The steering is precise, direct and different from any other car of the same segment, you have to be confident with it or you could do like me and close too much the angles through small radius bends, but then once you get the trick is done.

It has an angry look, like a rabid dog from the future meshed up with a distant Chinese descent, or Japanese as in this specific case: find me a sedan that has a front worked so well and I will offer you a pizza. At the back, two big tailpipes make it clear that you will also be a business man strutting around, but if necessary it will take a moment to take off his tie and step heavily on the gas. And then you have it all, an endless connectivity with any kind of devilry, phone connection, satellite navigation, a screen from which to control the parameters of the car and maneuvering cameras to make life easier during parking. By engaging the reverse gear, a “beep” attempt to warn people that are walking a few centimeters from the trunk that a big Japanese four doors is backtracking – but do not trust too much the common sense of mankind.

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I then decrease the pace, taking advantage of a downhill section until the center display tells me the charge of the battery reached its maximum reserve. Here comes into play the pleasure of hybrid propulsion: a swing of lower consumption in the busy and boring cities and more power and response when the young man that lives inside us decides to take place at the wheel. The Infiniti seems to know how to do everything right, despite some solutions are a bit ‘unusual and I’m referring to the pedal parking brake and the double central display, too confusing and still unnecessary. It’s also nice to appreciate the soft plastics and well-assembled panels, with a nice set of alloy wheels and a brake system always up to the task. It is photogenic, although it was not at all easy to convey its unique color and its lines, especially the voluptuous front – after all we are still talking about a very close relative of the Q50 Eau Rou-ge (if you do not know what I’m talking about, start to cross your fingers with me, hoping that someday they will be put it into production).

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Coming back home every night, despite not having the classic line of a supercar (not even a sports car though), it makes you want to plan another trip, avoiding motorways, where however you are able to reach 250 per hour without the slightest effort. You want to keep surprising yourself by that gradual acceleration always able to put in troubles a good half of any track day paddock. And it costs about as much as its opponents, the fearsome Germans so good in everything, except for keeping the price, same problem for this Q50S. Technological, powerful and addictive – I would add complicated if you give me the chance to put a fourth adjective for a car that offers a lot, in a period where the average customer wants more (basically useless things). I was surprised, entertained but above all surprised, more than the many other cars that first of all predict how good they are thanks to their striking look of a perfect sports car.

The Q50S arrives on tiptoe, with its electric mode on and then turn on the 3.5 V6 offering you everything you were looking for, but that you never thought to find here. In its own way, it does everything good.

INFINITI Q50S AWD HYBRID(2016-)


Layout: front-engined, all-wheel-drive
Engine: 6cylinder 3.498cc + 50 kw electric unit
Transmission: 7-speed manual gearbox
Power: 364hp @ 6800 rpm
Weight: 1834 kg
Acceleration: 4.6sec
Top Speed: 250 kph
Price: from 59.500

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Infiniti QX30 vs BMW X1 vs Mercedes GLA (Infiniti QX30)

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The QX30 is the second small car from Infiniti, and it follows the template set out by the Q30 hatchback in that it uses tlie same running gear as the Mercedes A-Class. In that respect, it’s the same as the GLA, although Infiniti offers only a single drivetrain: a 2.2-litre diesel with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. The range comprises Premium and Premium Tech trims; the former costs £29,490 and the latter, tested here, is £33,370.

Styling 4.0/5

Infinitis are still rare on UK roads, but the design language helps them to stand out. All of the brand’s cars feature sculpted lines and a big grille flanked by small headlights, and the QX30 is no different.

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Interior: While the cabin feels good, it uses lots of parts from Mercedes, such as climate controls. Rear could be roomier, althought there’s plenty of tech.

infiniti-qx30-navThe QX30 shares its running gear with the Mercedes A-Class, but Infiniti has done a good job of hiding the car’s roots, because it has entirely different bodywork, although it is essentially a Q30 with a raised ride height and extra cladding. It sits 55mm higher than the hatch, but is the same length and width, so it’s more like a crossover hatch, especially when you compare it with the SUV-styleX1.

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That’s not to say that the QX30 is without visual appeal, though. Far from it – the swooping lines are attracuve, and it looks less awkward than the GLA. From some angles there’s a hint of Mazda 3 about the car’s design although the black wheelarch extensions, silver roof rails and skid plates front and rear add a bit of ruggedness to the looks. There’s a single 18-inch wheel option, but the tall tyres and plastic cladding mean they’re a little lost in the arches when compared with some of the larger wheels you can get on the Q30.

Climb aboard and the QX30 Premium has a high-class cabin that matches the Q30 Premium’s. There’s leadier as standard, wood trim and plenty of kit, although that also means you get a lot of obviously Mercedes-sourced switchgear. The climate controls are identical to those of the A-Class, even down to the A-Class graphic on the air-recirculation button, while the electric seat controls are located on the door, the electrically operated parking brake is by the driver’s right knee and the electric window buttons are identical to those of the Mercedes.

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Design: Rear end treatment gives Infiniti a swoopy, stylish look, but has an adverse affect on luggage space which is the smallest here with the seats up or down.

Build quality is good, and the leather-stitched dash insert adds a premium touch, but there are some hard plastics on the centre console and doors that let down the cabin. However, the QX30 is certainly no worse than the GLA in this regard.

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Driving 3.8/5

There’s just one drivetrain in the QX30 – a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. It’s essentially the same as the GLA 22od 4MATIC, although its 168bhp is 9bhp down on the Mercedes.

Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti has plenty of engine noise outside, although decent sound deadening in the cabin means it’s fairly quiet.

Acceleration is merely reasonable; we managed a o-6omph sprint time of 8.8 seconds, which was behind both rivals, although the QX30 was marginally faster than the Mercedes in gear.

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On the road: QX30 accelerates reasonably briskly, but is at its best when up to a cruising speed. In town, the steering is light and the suspension gives the ride a ‘bobbling’ feel.

The Infiniti features the same seven-speed gearbox as the GLA, but with only three modes to choose from, compared with five in the Mercedes. There are Eco, Sport and Manual modes, with the last of these giving you full control of the box via the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Eco mode delivers a dull throttle response to boost economy, but the Sport setting just holds on to the gears rather than sharpening its responses. The gearshifts themselves are smooth in standard mode and jerkier in Sport, although ifs not as severe as the GLA’s shifts.

The soft nature of the QX30 is further evident in how the chassis copes with rough surfaces. While the soft suspension and tyres soak up bumps fairly well, the car does tend to bob around. This manifests itself with a floating sensation when cruising at motorway speeds, while the light steering doesn’t deliver much in the way of feedback. However, it’s no worse than the GLA in this regard, and is at least a fairly comfortable cruiser.

Body roll is reasonably well controlled in corners, but again the soft suspension does tend to unsettle the car, although it remains safe and predictable.

Ownership 3.7/5

The QX30 has yet to be tested by the crash test experts at Euro NCAP, but its sister car, the Q30, has been and achieved a five-star rating.

Still, the crossover has city braking, seven airbags and lane-departure warning as standard, while the £1,800 Safety Pack adds adaptive cruise control, park assist with 360-degree cameras and blind spot warning – although the warning lights for this are at the base of the windscreen pillars, a little way apart from the mirrors, which makes them tricky to spot.

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Infiniti’s dealer network has expanded to include 14 franchises. Although that’s still some way short of the BMW and Mercedes networks, Infiniti’s concierge-style service should set it apart. If your car has to be in the workshop for a service or any other work, the company will deliver a courtesy vehicle to your door. Well be interested to see how owners rate this when we get enough responses for the brand to rank in our Driver Power satisfaction survey.

Running costs 3.9/5

At £33,370, the QX30 2.2d Premium Tech is£48o more than the X1 Sport, although you could save nearly £4,000 by going for the Premium model and you wouldn’t feel short-changed for kit. There are no finance offers on the QX30 just yet, butyou can get a Q30 in a similar spec with a £4,330 deposit, £2,500 dealer contribution and 36 monthly payments of £358. Thafs similar to what is available on a GLA 22od, albeit with a larger initial deposit.

Resale values of 46 per cent are reasonable for a car from a niche firm such as Infiniti. But the BMW is a better company car choice and is also more efficient.

Practicality 3.5/5

Even though the QX30 uses the same platform as the GLA, its differing body shape means it has less space in the back. Its 430-litre boot is 51 litres smaller than the Mercedes’ and 75 litres down on the BMW’s. The relatively small opening and high boot lip don’t help matters, and there’s no under-floor storage.

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Back seat space is similar to the Mercedes, as is the driving positioa which provides the same range of seat and steering wheel adjustment However, the raised footrest is awkwardly positioned for those who have long legs.

The narrow back window and thick pillars make rear visibility poor, so it’s worth adding the £1,800 Safety Pack, which comes with a 360-degree camera.

HEAD TO HEAD


Size

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BMW X1’s trunk

These three cars show the sheer breadth of bodystyles you can get in the class. The X1 is almost SUV-sized, while the QX30 is far more of a raised hatchback. The GLA falls between these two with a larger boot than Infiniti, but cabin space is still on the small side. In reality, the BMW us the most SUV-like of the trio.

Parts sharing

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The relationship between the QX30 and GLA is obvious inside. The Infiniti has the same cliamte controls, window switches and single column stalk, while their keys are similar, too. The X1 shares its platform with the MINI Clubman, but both cars have their own distinct look.

Dealer service

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Infiniti makes a big deal about its personalised customer service. But we’ve yet to recieve enough responses for the brand to appear in our Driver Power survey, so we can’t see if this is reflected in owners’ views – and whether the dealers perform better than the BMW and Mercedes networks.

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Infiniti QX Sport Takes The First Step Towards The Variable-Compression Engine

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Infiniti’s forthcoming QX50 suv is likely to feature groundbreaking tech in the shape of the world’s first production variable-compression engine.

Although Infiniti is remaining tight-lipped about the new powerplant parent company Nissan’s global website confirms that it has been working on the technology, with the intention of it delivering the performance of a turbocharged sports car but with much better economy.

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QX Sport Inspiration points to forthcoming QX50 SUV

The tech works by altering the volume of the combustion chamber between the top and bottom piston positions. This gives different compression ratios: a low ratio brings better performance, a high ratio superior fuel economy.

The new QX50 will follow the styling seen on the brand’s QX Sport Inspiration concept and is set to showcase a new interior design for Infiniti.

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