Infiniti's first compact crossover packs good looks, a high equipment list, comparable comfort level and competitive pricing
Infiniti's QX30: Stylish, comfy ride The Infiniti QX30 comes with 19-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, self-parking system, lane-departure warning and traffic sign recognition, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It is a Mercedes-Benz GLA underneath, but Infiniti's QX30 offers a bit more bang for the buck. And a lot more in the looks department.

Indeed, the marque's first compact crossover is a stylish number, with fluid lines and dynamic proportions somewhat lacking in its Merc donor.

It comes across as a younger and more contemporary car, while the GLA has a more sombre and timeless demeanour.

The QX 2.0T gets all-wheel-drive. On the Merc side of the fence, you would have to get the pricier AMG45 variant to enjoy this additional traction. It is mostly unnecessary in Singapore but, hey, if you are getting a premium crossover, having all-wheel-drive gives you something extra to crow about.

The 2.0T also comes with premium goodies such as 19-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, self-parking system, lane-departure warning and traffic sign recognition, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system.

These features make it a very accomplished contender in the crowded segment, insofar as design, features and price competitiveness go.

Beyond those, its GLA DNA gets in the way. Inside, the cockpit has all the visual and tactile cues of a Merc, with very little to set it apart. That is not necessarily unflattering per se.

What is a little unflattering is the way the car operates. Even though it has a 208bhp engine with 350Nm of torque from 1,200rpm, it is not apparent in everyday driving conditions.

Its throttle is laggy, with noticeable dead space between pedal angle and engine response. It is the kind of car that invariably fails to fill a gap in traffic quickly.

Then, if you are a little impatient, the output gushes suddenly, resulting in a surge and stop progress that is unsettling.

Keep the pedal planted and you will get a creditable acceleration, with a century sprint accomplished in 7.3 seconds.

As you would expect of an Infiniti, the QX30 is very well insulated. But if you are outside the car, its engine sounds a little like a tractor's diesel power plant.

In the ride and handling department, the Infiniti does not disappoint. It is extremely easy to pilot in the urban jungle, with a higher penchant for corners than many other crossovers.

Perhaps its all-wheel-drive system does have a positive contribution after all.

The system sends up to 50 per cent of the engine's output to the rear. If a wheel slip is detected, braking is applied to the slipping wheel, while torque is sent to the gripping wheel for additional stability.

While the ride is not the best in class, it is passable. Its cushier seats help in this respect.

Space is also pretty decent for a car its size, with the front seats raised further from the floor to aid in the impression of roominess in the rear.

Clearly, the QX30 will have an audience among folks who feel the GLA is a little too common (it is one of the most saleable Mercs in town). The Infiniti's good looks, high equipment list, comparable comfort level and competitive pricing ($9,000 cheaper than the two-wheel-drive GLA250) are its selling points.