By Mike Torpey on 2016-06-19 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Infiniti Q30 2.0T
Sport 7DCT 4WD
IT'S the car company with the sparkling name that could do with some extra fizz in its public perception.
Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan in much the same way Lexus is to Toyota, doesn't enjoy the same profile as its Japanese rival - even though it has been selling cars in Europe for nearly eight years.
But in the new Q30 small family model it has a car that could project the brand onwards and upwards.
In the past, Infiniti models have tended to be of quirky design with big engines and high prices, at the same time pitched against the premium German brands. The Q30 changes everything.
Built at Nissan's UK plant in Sunderland, this car has the style, build, feelgood factor and diversity to make the breakthrough so vital to Infiniti.
Up for grabs in no less than 29 different variants, the Q30 isn't just a rival for the Mercedes A-Class - it's actually based on it too.
The Infiniti also has a style very much its own though and while that may not be to everyone's taste, those who like to stand out from the crowd or push the boundaries of design will love it.
Beneath the bonnet is a range of three petrol engines - 1.6-litre with 122 or 156ps plus the tested 211ps turbocharged unit - and two diesels.
The latter pair comprise a 2.2-litre engine developing 170ps and a 1.5-litre 109ps model. Prices are from £20,550.
You have to pay appreciably more for the 2.0T, which comes with four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
But the performance is strong - 0-62 in 7.2 seconds - and its official combined fuel figure is an attractive 45.6 miles per gallon, though you won't return anything like that figure in everyday urban conditions.
Hop into the leather and Alcantara seats and the sports theme leaps out at you via the piano black and stainless steel-effect dash and door inserts, the flat-bottomed leather steering wheel and drilled alloy pedals.
Space in the back is adequate rather than spacious and tight if the front seats need to be slid well back and though there are five seatbelts, you don't realistically want to be stuck in the middle - with legs either side of the transmission tunnel.
That said, the Q30 is a comfortable, smooth riding car to be carried in and though it's best described as compact, you get a substantial split-level boot.
As with so many premium cars it's possible to hike up the price substantially by dipping into the options bin and opting for one of the various style packs.
The individual option definitely worth considering though is the Â£500 glass roof with electric sunshade - the extra light helps reduce what can be a claustrophobic feeling for rear seat passengers.
There's no doubt the Q30 represents Infiniti's best chance yet of making a real breakthrough and certainly the 2.0T Sport, with its firmer suspension and lower ride height, is a really enjoyable car to drive.
It's a safe one too, having been awarded best-in-class small family car 2015 by independent vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP.
And its customers are also treated to the Infiniti Experience - including 24/7 assistance and one-to-one service at any of the brand's UK centres.
Infiniti Q30 2.0T Sport 7DCT 4WD
Mechanical: 211PS, 1,991cc turbocharged petrol engine driving four wheels via seven-speed automatic transmission
Max Speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 45.6
Insurance Group: 25
C02 emissions: 143g/km
Bik rating: 25%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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