Infiniti Q30 Premium

Tech 2.2D

Infiniti Q30, front static
Infiniti Q30, side static
Infiniti Q30, front static 2
Infiniti Q30, boot
Infiniti Q30, dashboard
Infiniti Q30, rear seats
Infiniti Q30, door detail
Infiniti Q30, front seats
Infiniti Q30, gear lever

HOW many people buy a car they think is ugly? Don't fret about the answer - it's close to a nice round zero.

We like to drive cars we like the look of, sometimes - especially - if other drivers think we've bought something hit with an ugly stick (I'm looking at you, Nissan Juke).

Now imagine if it was noticed not for its oddity but for a delicious mix of swoops and swerves that lend an air of modern sculpture in motion.

That would please the owner and, in the case of the car you see here make the manufacturer very happy indeed.

For Infiniti is on a mission. Not to go into brochure detail of the models it sells but simply to force themselves on to the radar of anyone looking to buy a new car.

Even with a £250 million investment in the plant to make the new Q30 (in Sunderland, alongside Nissans from the parent company) the Infiniti brand's sales in the UK remain vanishingly small.

For the moment, at any rate. The Q30 is the first of an upcoming range designed to take on the premium opposition, with names like Audi and BMW bandied about. Get it right and the sales will follow.

To say it looks the business is, to these eyes, a large understatement. I think it looks terrific, and stand-out smart in the optional (£670) liquid copper paint you see here. More important, the navigator-in-chief, who knows nothing about Infiniti, thought so too.

The good news continues inside, where a tempting mix of soft leather, alloy look highlights and tasteful splashes of wood make this a stylish place to spend an hour or two.

Time during which, if you're a fully paid up petrol head, to spot that some bits (switches, dash display) look as though they've come from a Mercedes-Benz.

Which they have; Nissan (so Infiniti too) has a deal with the German giant, which takes smaller diesel engines in return for... bigger ones and some other parts. Even the platform the Q30 is built on was donated from the Mercedes A-Class, which you may feel is no bad thing.

It must help keep costs down, which on the Q30 start at £20,550 for a car with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and top out at £31,930 for a 2.0-litre petrol automatic with all-wheel drive. It puts the car firmly into Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series territory.

The test car, only one notch from the top, costs £33,900 with the addition of some extras - notably £1,400 for a mildly old fashioned looking satellite navigation system, a £650 Bose sound system (superb) and the already mentioned look-at-me paint job.

Also slightly old fashioned is the 2.2-litre diesel engine donated by Mercedes. It was always a grumbly old thing and only sinks into the background here when nicely warmed through.

Still, on smooth roads and at a steady pace the Q30 is superbly refined. It is also a fine crusher of Britain's worst road bumps, making for an engaging car when there are passengers to move about.

Not quite so much fun at the wheel, although a smooth approach brings benefits in ways other than fellow occupants remarking on the comfortable way they've just covered 100 miles.

FAST FACTS

Infiniti Q30 Premium Tech 2.2D

Price: £31,180

Mechanical: 187bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 8.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 57.6

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 127g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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