If variety truly is the spice of life, we should all warmly welcome Infiniti’s new rival to the Audi’s A3.

After all, if you’ve already had an A3, you’ve probably also lived with a BMW 1-series, or had a three-year fling with a Mercedes A-class – in other words, you’ll fancy a change. Well, that’s what Nissan’s luxury brand is banking on.

Getting the Q30 wrong isn’t an option especially as, for the first time since the launch of Infiniti in 2009, it has a car that just might sell in real numbers.

Cannily, like any shrewd business person, Infiniti has limited its risk to exposure. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of pounds starting from scratch, Nissan’s posh brand has re-skinned one of the segment leaders. That’s right, lurking beneath its sharp-suited lines lurks the very capable current-generation Mercedes A-class.

Truth be told it’s been more than a quick costume change. The Q30 is actually both longer and taller than the car’s it’s based on, although access to the rear seats is as tight as ever. But that aside, the Japanese brand can sit back and cash in on the German car-maker’s expertise.

Car geeks will, no doubt, have a field day spotting all the Mercedes bits within the cabin, but that’s no bad thing because the A-class has one of the best interiors in its class.

What’s not good is the dreadful 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s been added; Infiniti should have stuck with the Mercedes’ unit. The replacement is slow, dated and confusing. Worse still, the satellite navigation isn’t even standard, costing £1400 on the Premium trim.

What is an advantage over the A-class is ride comfort – an area where Mercedes has always struggled with the small hatch.

Cleverly, engineers have thrown away the A-class springs and added longer, softer suspension from the Mercedes GLA SUV. A brief drive down a bumpy road and it doesn’t take long to feel the transformation.
We spent most of our time with the fleet favourite, the 109hp 1.5-litre diesel Q30.

Luckily, for us, it’s the pick of the range. It’s a shame it’s so slow with 0-62mph taking 11.9 seconds, but it’s both smooth and frugal (on paper) and is the cheapest in the range to run.

Mercedes’ own 2.1-litre diesel engine and a powerful 211hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol are both also available, but the bigger diesel is a bit uncouth while the turbo rules itself out with a high P11D and costly benefit-in-kind tax bill.

The cheapest Q30 is also the best to drive. It’s engaging and has agile handling, plenty of grips and is quiet at a cruise – Infiniti claims it’s up to 10% more hushed that its rivals, although our cars suffered from plenty of wind noise.

The Q30 struggles with whole life costs, though, which come in 2-5p per mile behind the Germans, courtesy of mediocre RVs. That’s unfortunate, but it should do well with those after a plush hatch from a different brand. Thanks to its A-class underpinnings, the Q30 is a well-equipped, decent all-rounder.

Infiniti Q30 1.5d SE Business

Model price range £20,550-£33,890
Residual value 33.8%
Depreciation £15,175
Fuel £4142
Service, maintenance and repair £2401
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £1708
Cost per mile 48.2p
Fuel consumption 72.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 103g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month £69/138
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 340 litres
Engine size/power 1461cc/109h