New Car/Review

1997 Infiniti I30 Touring

by John Heilig

Infiniti

SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE:            3.0-liter DOHC V-6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 190hp @5600 rpm/205 ft-lbs @4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Five-speed manual
FUEL ECONOMY:      26  mpg city,  21 mpg highway,   mpg test
WHEELBASE:         106.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    189.6 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    55.7 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     69.7 in.
CURB WEIGHT:       3147 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:     18.5 gal.
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:  14.1 cu. ft.
TIRES:             P215/60R15
INSTRUMENTS:       Speedometer, tachometer, fuel level, 
                   water temperature, oil pressure, 
                   battery voltage, digital clock.
EQUIPMENT:         Power windows, power door locks, 
                   power mirrors, power seats, cruise control, 
                   air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio 
                   with cassette and CD, power sunroof, 
                   anti-lock braking, dual air bags.
STICKER PRICE:     $31,995

When Infiniti first came on the market they had some very nice luxury sedans; the Q45, the J30 and the G20 sport coupe. Their fourth car was the I30, a front-wheel luxury version of the Nissan Maxima. As such, it's a very nice car because the Maxima isn't too shabby in its own right.

The I30 is powered by the 3.0-liter double overhead cam V-6 that in another life also powered the 300ZX sport coupe. So it's a heck of an engine, even though output in the I30 is only 190 horsepower.

The luxury interior appointments make the I30 an interesting car. Front-wheel drive makes it "less" of a luxury car than rear-wheel drive, simply because the traditional luxury cars are all rear-wheel drive--Mercedes-Benz, BMW, the big Cadillacs, Jaguar, etc. But it is only in that minor point where the differences exist.

The I30 has all the accessories, as well as leather and wood interior trim. And very high performance. I was impressed with the luxury of the I30, because I had just left a couple of other Infinitis and had been accustomed to the level of luxury at the higher ends of the range. While you're buying a "gussied up" Maxima in effect, the changeover does make for a nice package.

The 3.0-liter V-6 was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, which is something else you don't normally expect to see in a luxury car. With the manual, however, performance was excellent, and acceleration was extremely good. I'm not sure what my numbers were but I was able to pull away from all traffic and on Interstates didn't have to worry about merging from entry ramps into small holes. Infiniti quotes a 0-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds, which is a real number. We don't do time checks, but I can believe that test figure.

Another feature you get in Nissans but not in Infinitis (but you do get in the I30) is the annoying requirement that you push a button to remove the key from the ignition. The button was a remnant of the 1980s when manufacturers felt they had to do something to keep owners from leaving the keys in the car. Nissan is one of the few manufacturers who retain this feature, and it has merged over to the I30 as well.

Handling is very nice for the I30. It is a little stiffer and choppier than you would normally expect in a luxury car. The ride is more sporty than luxurious. It isn't quite as sporty as the G20 sport coupe but still is stiff. But with full five-passenger seating, it's nice to know that you can still have decent performance.

The I30 is not the kind of car you'd want to take to race in, but it's definitely a car you'd want to take to the races, for its comfort and because you can fit a lot of people in it. At a price of just under $32,000 it's not cheap but you get a lot of performance and style for what you're buying.

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