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Q30 takes Infiniti to new heights 

NISSAN’S quality Infiniti brand was launched in 1989, arriving in Europe in 2008, but it’s taken some time for the new models to make a real impact in the UK.

Sales figures here were on the up last year – 60 per cent – but the total was still just under 1,200.

But this year has seen sales soar so far – with the first six months’ figure of 1,565 blasting past the 1,195 sold during the full 12 months in 2015.

And the sales success continued last month with 399 Infinitis appearing on UK roads – a massive 191 per cent rise on the 137 in July, 2015.

That brought a 163 per cent year-to-date surge from 747 to 1,964 vehicles – January to July.

Infiniti couldn’t give me a model breakdown but the car responsible for this leap in sales is the Q30.

The new model didn’t go on sale until the end of January – a month after production started at the Sunderland plant.

It’s the first Infiniti built in Europe and brought a £250 million investment to the North East of England plant.

The Q30 brings Infiniti into the fast-growing premium compact segment and I have just had my first drive in it.

Top marks to the Sunderland workers as the quality build is excellent.

I liked the curvy front design of this hatchback and its low-slung roofline gives it a sleek, coupe-like side view.

The test car came in a cracking Liquid Copper colour and the dual rectangular chrome exhausts finishes added to its rear appeal.

Also adding to its looks were the black lacquer coloured fog-lamp finishers, roof-side spoiler, side sills and wheel arch mouldings

Prices start at £20,555 and I sampled a high-spec Pre-mium Tech model, costing £26,430.

The In Touch navigation system was the only option fitted and this added a further £1,400.

I loved the interior which featured white Nappa leather seats with graphite inserts and red stitching.

There was a feeling of quality in this Q30 with premium touches including the leather steering wheel and shift lever and a lea-therette dashboard finisher.

Interior space is good up front but tall rear passengers could be touching the roof with their head.

Cargo space is decent, offering 430 litres which can be extended with the 60/40 rear seats folded forward.

The Q30 offers a choice of diesel and petrol engines as well as manual and automatic transmissions.

My model was powered by a frugal 1.5-litre 107bhp turbo diesel engine with a six-speed manual transmission.

Power was good from lift-off with its zero to 62mph time of 12 seconds and the gear shifts were slick and smooth.

The engine was never too noisy and this model cruised smoothly at motorway speeds with little wind or rood noise.

Driving on some country roads didn’t disappoint either.

There was a little body roll when cornering at speed but road grip was good.

And even on some potholed surfaces the ride comfort couldn’t be faulted.

I liked the Q30 the more I drove it with a number of features making it a pleasurable experience.

These included the easy one-touch cruise control, easy-to-use satnav and InTouch infotainment system with its 7-inch touchscreen.

Buyers of this model will be tempted by the excellent fuel economy figures of 68.9mpg combined, 74.3mpg extra urban and 60.1mpg urban, and CO2 emissions of 108g/km.

The massive list of standard equipment on all models is also pretty impres-sive.

Other features on the test car included heated front seats, manual reach and rake adjustment steering column, multifunction steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, rear view camera with front and rear parking sensors.

And a massive list of safety features, including forward collision warning and stop lane departure warning, earned the Q30 a best-in-class ‘small family car’ 2015 award from independent vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP.

It might be small in the UK, but Infiniti looks to be growing fast with the impressive Q30 already delivering big time and taking the brand to new heights.