Infiniti is very recent addition to the motoring scene in Northern Ireland with one dealership in Belfast on Boucher Crescent just off the Boucher Road which is commonly known as “Motor Mile”.
Infiniti is the luxury car division of Nissan and sales commenced in the USA in late 1989. There was a major milestone for the company with the announcement of the Q30 Concept car at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. Global production for this car is at Sunderland in NE England.
Speaking with a company spokesperson, Infiniti see the Q30 and QX30 (AWD) as the core models particularly in Europe as they throw down a challenge to the German premium brands. Stephen Stewart, whose company Mervyn Stewart already has a strong presence in Belfast with Skoda, and who is delighted to have added Infiniti, already reports a high level of interest in the brand with inquiries coming from current owners of the well known German brands who simply yearn for something different.
There are no plans to introduce the brand to the Republic of Ireland, but Stephen and his team will be bringing the cars to prospective customers south of the border. In order to sample what Infiniti has to offer, I spent some time behind the wheel of a QX30 which some may have noticed bears a resemblance to the Mercedes GLA. Much of the German crossover is in the GX30- engine, transmission etc. Now I was in a very good position to pass judgement as my everyday mode of transport is a GLA with the 2.2 litre diesel engine and seven speed automatic transmission as found in the QX30. Within hours of driving, I observed one major difference in the two crossovers, the QX30 offers higher comfort levels, the Merc suspension set up is much firmer. All very well on smooth motorways but not such a delight on many of our country roads.
My test vehicle was in Premium Tech grade, one which displays very well what is on offer in the Q30 and QX30 line-up. The power unit offers spirited performance with the sprint from rest to 62mph (100kph) taking 8.5 seconds, with a CO2 figure of 128g/km. In standard form the price in Northern Ireland is £34,225 and you get quite a package. A very comprehensive list of safety and security goodies headed by the intelligent AWD system, 4 wheel ABS, forward collision warning and stop, hill start assist etc. Adding to the look of the QX30 the snowflake design 18 inch alloy wheels, I always say a smart set of alloys works wonders. Other exterior items worth noting, auto headlight activation, the LED auto level variety, LED front fog lamps and rear combination lamps, and the door mirrors heated and electrically adjustable, which can be folded.
Stepping inside the QX30, a warm greeting thanks to the abundance of leather with wide use of Nappa seat facings. The two front seats feature power memory, very useful if there are additional drivers. As per normal the rear seat backs feature a 40/60 split and there is a ski hatch for those awkward items that on occasion we transport. The current buzz word with the modern vehicle is connectivity, an area well catered for by Infiniti. Right away you are greeted by a 7 inch touch screen, a key part of the infotainment system with the added bonus of voice recognition. There is Bluetooth audio streaming with phone book functionality. No surprise to find DAB radio, which in a lot of areas of our island simply does not perform, no fault of the vehicle. Traffic sign recognition is a very useful feature, especially in areas with speed limit signs. One of my current moans is the tight parking spaces we are presented with in town and especially at supermarkets. To ease this task the QX30 features a rear view camera with front and rear parking sensors. My test example came with an array of extra equipment taking the final tally to £37,725; such items as a Bose premium audio system, safety pack, metallic paint and a pack which included privacy rear window glass and an LED turning signal. Certainly the QX30 is a very desirable set of wheels and is a real challenger to offerings from Audi, BMW and Mercedes and it is something new and fresh.