Sitting somewhere between a small hatchback and an SUV, the 2018 Infiniti QX30 from Nissan's luxury arm combines a sporty drive experience with a faster-paced body style. But like any all-in-one enterprise, there's bound to be the odd compromise.

Sitting in the same paddock as BMW's "sport activity vehicles" like the X1, the upcoming X2, the QX30 strives to blend a sporty driving experience, wagon-like versatility, the stance and capability of a crossover, and the compact size of a city vehicle. Sportiness and slick coupe-like styling cues are the attributes that stand out in the QX30, but there are compromises on the inside, with a less roomy cabin and a harsher ride.

For those looking to emphasize sport, though, the 2018 Infiniti QX30 definitely fits the bill. Handling is excellent with precise steering and a very taut suspension for cornering. The QX30 looks the part too, with sleek styling that pushes forward movement whether the little crossover is parked at the curb or going into the outside lane for the pass.

The engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit with turbocharging. It produces 208 horsepower (155 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque, which enters a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that defaults to front-wheel drive with all-wheel drive as an option in some trims. Both the engine and transmission are very responsive and quick on the draw when it comes to throttle response and shift changes. Whether manually shifting (via paddle shifters) or letting it do its own thing, the smooth dual-clutch transmission in the QX30 shows little hesitation.

There are four trim levels available, with add-on packages to go with them. The base level trim has a great price point (roughly US$30,000) and good amenities. Eight-way front seating adjustments with four-way power lumbar and dual-zone climate get things started. A 7-inch touchscreen and six-speaker sound system round that out, while two USB ports add convenience. The Luxury trim builds on that with powered seat adjustments, front seat heating, a rear-seat pass-through and armrest (the 60/40 split-fold remains), and some upholstery detail upgrades. AWD becomes an option on the Luxury trim, raising the ride height by over an inch. The Premium trim has more convenience items inside and, again, AWD is an upgrade option.

The Sport model has no AWD option, lowering ride height instead by about 0.6 inches, with tighter suspension and larger alloy wheels. Some body trimming and fascia changes as well as a blacked grille also set it apart, and options center on driver aids and premium leather upholstery.

For our test drive, we drove the 2018 Infiniti QX80 Premium AWD for a week. It proved to be a good mix of accoutrements and packaging at about US$46,500 delivered. Where the sacrifices come, as noted, are with the interior. Two USB ports are standard and they are both located up front. Seating for the front is good with plenty of adjustment and enough headroom, legroom, and shoulder room to make most people feel accommodated. The rear seats in the QX30, however, are cramped for just about everyone.

Parents will note that installing child safety seats in the QX30 is difficult, as the seat belt receivers are often too narrowly situated for easy access and seating three across is nearly impossible. Cargo space in the QX30 is good, but falls short of what will be found in a true crossover or station wagon. We also noted that the rear seats in the QX30 do not fold completely flat.

That said, the QX30 is aiming towards a sport driving audience and with that comes a need for a little more versatility or different styling from the standard sports sedan or wagon. The QX30 definitely hits those points well. It's very nice to look at, with flowing lines and a fast-paced appeal and on the road it feels confident and quick.

That quick feeling is enhanced by its stance and stiff chassis, but doesn't mean it has an edge over its rivals, though. In fact it's about average, with a 0-60 mph (0-92 km/h) speed of about 7 seconds. Responsiveness in both steering and accelerator control are both high points, showcasing how well-tuned a vehicle like this can be. Above all else, the 2018 Infiniti QX30 is enjoyable to drive – all the time. There are some tradeoffs, but most in this market are probably willing to make them.

Product Page: 2018 Infiniti QX30

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