by Frank A. Aukofer

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, who pondered concepts of matter, substance and form, might have enjoyed analyzing the 2017 Infiniti QX30 crossover sport utility vehicle.

That’s because a good share of the QX30’s matter — the stuff of which something is made — comes from Mercedes-Benz. Its form, or its essential characteristics and attributes, give it substance as an Infiniti, which is the luxury division of Japan’s Nissan.

OK, enough armchair philosophy. In the real world, where small crossovers are the current hot fad, Infiniti needed to economically deliver a competitive successor to the old small EX in the luxury category. Mercedes-Benz was willing to sell the innards of its GLA-Class compact crossover, including the engine, transmission and some other smaller components.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-3The QX30 gets its Mercedes motivation from the GLA250’s turbocharged 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which delivers 258 lb-ft of torque. All four wheels get the power to the pavement through the German manufacturer’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which also can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel.

There are three selectable driving modes: Eco, Sport and Manual, which are reminiscent of the “Goldilocks” fairy tale, where the girl tries out beds belonging to the Three Bears. Papa Bear’s is too hard, Mama Bear’s is too soft and Baby Bear’s is just right.

But the QX30’s settings don’t include a just right, or Normal, selection. Eco maximizes fuel economy with lazy shifts and Sport maximizes performance by shifting at higher rpms. It is possible to mimic a Normal setting by using the Manual mode but that takes attention and practice.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-8Likely most motorists, in everyday driving, won’t notice much of a difference between Eco and Sport. The QX30, responsive to throttle inputs, delivers plenty of pep either way. There sometimes is a bit of hesitation off the line that could be attributed to either turbo lag or a bit of slippage from the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

With a curb weight of 3,530 pounds, the QX30 earns a city/highway/combined fuel consumption rating of 21/30/25 mpg. On the road, it tracks true with few corrections and is capable, with some body lean, around tight curves.

In any category of vehicle, of course, styling sells — though whether it’s exciting or off-putting always is in the eyes of the beholder. That said, the QX30 exhibits flowing, sculptured lines that bespeak a low-slung, sport/luxury orientation more than that of a utilitarian tall crossover.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-9It becomes evident entering and departing both the front and back seats, where you have to remember to duck or you can bang your noggin overhead. Inside, the front seats feel roomy and the back outboard seats tight. The center-rear position is hopelessly compromised by a large floor hump and a hard cushion.

Despite that, the Infiniti designers managed to scoop out more interior space than in the Mercedes GLA. The QX30 has 108 cubic feet of interior volume — about what you get in a compact car — divided into 89 cubic feet for passengers and 19 cubic feet for cargo behind the back seat.

Though the GLA’s overall length of 14 feet 6 inches is the same as the QX30’s, the GLA’s numbers are 99 cubic feet of interior volume, with 87 cubic feet for passengers and 12 cubic feet for cargo.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-11The QX30’s luxurious interior, especially its infotainment systems, is distinctly Infiniti, though its Mercedes underpinnings become immediately obvious when you go to adjust the front seats. It uses the same clumsy power switchgear mounted on the doors that is a Mercedes hallmark. Though you can get used to them over time, controls down on the sides of the seats are way more intuitive.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-12Tested for this review was the top-line QX30 Premium AWD, which had a $38,695 starting price. That included the all-wheel drive, run-flat tires on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, powered and heated front seats with memory settings, cruise control, roof rails, power folding outside mirrors and rain-sensing wipers with heated windshield washers.

The tested QX30 also came with $7,340 worth of options, bringing the suggested delivered price to $46,035. They included a panoramic sunroof, navigation system and a technology package with adaptive cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warning, parking assist and Infiniti’s around view monitor, which displays an overhead view of the vehicle and its surroundings.

Competitors include the Mercedes GLA250, Lexus NX200t, Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

2017infinitiqx30fogelson-4Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Infiniti QX30 Premium AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 208 hp, 258 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 89/19 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,530 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 21/30/25 mpg. Premium fuel recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $38,695.
  • Price as tested: $46,035.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Jason Fogelson.