Review: Audi A3 Sportback vs Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs Infiniti Q30

Review: Audi A3 Sportback vs Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs Infiniti Q30
Review: Audi A3 Sportback vs Alfa Romeo Giulietta vs Infiniti Q30

Premium young pup the Infiniti Q30 is snapping at the heels of Alfa Romeo and Audi’s classy hatchbacks. Will they take any notice?

Can Infiniti take on the premium big boys? Nissan’s posh stablemate is a relatively unknown brand in the UK, yet it hopes its volume car, the posh five-door Q30 hatch, can unsettle the likes of the Audi A3 Sportback and Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Both rivals have recently been facelifted, but can they keep their place in the pecking order or does the young upstart provide something new? We drive the small diesels to find out.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 110 SE Technik

Price: £23,330
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Power: 108bhp
Torque: 184lb ft
0-62mph: 10.3sec
Top speed: 161mph
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 99g/km

Driving experience

Let’s start with performance. As the heaviest car here with the smallest engine, our 106bhp 1.5-litre Q30 struggled the most from 0-62mph, even with plenty of revs and gearshifting. At the other end of the scale, the Giulietta’s 118bhp 1.6 has plenty of easy-access pulling power, giving it a 1.5-second quicker sprint. The 108bhp 1.6 A3 falls somewhere in between.

Alfa wins the prize for best engine refinement, and the Audi is the quietest contender on the motorway. The Infiniti has a clattery engine and unpleasant gearbox, and is noisy over expansion joints.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.6 JTDM-2 120 Tecnica

Price: £20,580
Engine: 1.6-litre diesel
Power: 118bhp
Torque: 236lb ft
0-62mph: 9.8sec
Top speed: 121mph
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 99g/km

When it comes to dynamics, the A3 wins out with its great control and fun drive. It has less lean and more accuracy than the Giulietta, and is the most fun here from behind the wheel. While the Q30’s softer suspension copes well in town, it bounces over speed bumps – and it really doesn’t feel on its game through fast corners.

Infiniti Q30 1.5d Premium InTouch

Price: £24,090
Engine: 1.5-litre diesel
Power: 106bhp
Torque: 192lb ft
0-62mph: 11.3sec
Top speed: 118mph
Fuel economy: 68.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 108g/km

Interior

The newcomer’s cabin quality is a mixed bag, with a too-high driver’s seat, not enough side support and the least impressive control layout here. The Alfa’s issues are what we’ve come to expect of the brand; hard-to-read dials, several less-than-robust switches and not enough space around the left footrest. Of course, the Audi’s interior outclasses them both, with its amazing quality, perfect driving position and user-friendly dash.

Its rear compartment is the most spacious, the Giulietta’s less so. Poor legroom and tiny windows make the Q30’s the most claustrophobic here, and while its boot capacity is on a par with its rivals’, it has a high lip and a step in the floor with the back seats folded.

Running costs

These small diesels are produced with business users in mind. The Alfa’s 99g/km CO2 emissions make it £844 more BIK friendly than the Audi, whereas the costly, higher-CO2 Infiniti costs £1736 extra. It is the cheapest to lease, however, at £202 against the Giulietta’s £228 and A3’s £221. Its True MPG economy is most accurate, if still a long way off the official 49.2mpg. PCPs are £261 a month for the A3 and £290 for the Q30. No finance deal is available on the Giulietta, but it does have the best standard kit count on test.

Despite having better safety credentials than its rivals, the Inifinti is a disappointment here. It’s completely outclassed by the others. It’s no shock that the lightly facelifted Audi wins out, but the fact the Alfa chases it hard is a pleasant surprise. If you fancy something a little different from the norm, its great styling, muscular powerplant and cheap fleet costs give it great appeal.

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