Brand recognition is the final frontier for Infiniti
WHENEVER I park up in an Infiniti, I invariably get someone standing in front of it
WHENEVER I park up in an Infiniti, I invariably get someone standing in front of it puzzling over exactly what make of car it actually is.
This is not without precedent in my life. Years ago, when a friend of mine and I toured Europe in an elderly black London cab that he had bought secondhand, a similar thing would happen.
Strangers in a strange land — I recall the old Yugoslavia was one place it happened a lot — would stand in front of the cab and scratch their heads.
“Ooooh-stin?” they would say pointing to the name badge on the front of the taxi’s grill.
“No,” I would say politely, “it’s an Austin.” Of course Austin has alas gone the way of the dodo, while Yugoslavia has been reconstituted as Serbia and Montenegro. But the idea that today someone might not recognise the brand name of a car seems unlikely. However, in the case of Infiniti there must be something lacking in the public’s consciousness with regard to this — Nissan’s luxury brand.
Which I always think is a shame. I like the Infiniti. Every model I have driven in recent years I have enjoyed.
They might have appeared a tad old-fashioned in the past, but this week’s drive — the Infiniti Q30 1.5D — could change all that.
Certainly, Infiniti hopes so — it would like to sell them in abundance.
And whatever else one might think about the Q30, it is obvious to me that the car company is pulling out all the stops to up its profile and, of course, its sales.
The first thing that has to be said about the Q30 is that it is great value for money.
Here we are talking about a luxury car that comes in at around £26,000. (Even with options fitted the test car was just £170 under £28,000.) And for that you get a lot of luxury motor.
You also get rather good economy — good enough in fact for me to remark upon again and again during this week’s drive.
Often with test cars early on you get a feeling that it may not in reality be all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to miles per gallon achieved.
This is indeed a controversial subject — official figures versus ownership figures, the all-important latter ones achieved by customers.
But you can usually tell when a car is what we used to describe as “a bit juicy”. The Infiniti Q30 1.5D is not — I reckon the official figures of 68.9mpg on the combined cycle cannot be too far wide of the mark.
This is because the 1,461cc diesel engine does not appear to waste energy.
The car seems high-geared, so at the top of the six-speed range — the test car was manual — you feel you could lope on for hours on end at high speed at low, throbbing revs. (Official top speed: 118mph.) And this Q30 was very comfortable. It looked comfy with its black lacquer interior trim and its white nappa leather seats with graphite inserts and red stitching.
This car not only felt luxurious, inside it was handsomely turned out. Its exterior design has fine if subtle lines, too. I recall that I was a little unhappy with the manual box when it came to engaging reverse, but apart from that driving and handling was in keeping with this car’s laid-back attitude.
Add into the mix a host of premium equipment, from the six-speaker sound system (two USB ports with smartphone and iPod connectivity) to the auto-dimming rear view mirror, Smart Beam (auto high/low beam), seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, to the red insert on the key fob, and you get the message that this Infiniti has arrived in 2016 ready and willing to compete with the best in its sector.
Whether the car-buying public get that message loud and clear is another thing entirely. I suspect for a while at least I still might get puzzled car fans standing before an Infiniti and trying to figure out what it is.
Of course, you could always take a drive in one and find out — which is my recommendation.
Infiniti Q30 factfile
INFINITI Q30 1.5D PREMIUM TECH MANUAL
Price of test car (with options fitted): £27,830
&bull Seven airbags
&bull LED auto-level Â headlights
&bull LED rear combination lights
&bull White nappa leather seats with graphite inserts and red stitching
&bull Black lacquer interior trim
&bull Leather steering wheel and shift lever
&bull Six-speed manual transmission
&bull Stop-start system
&bull Bluetooth audio streaming with phone book functionality