New Car/Review

1999 INFINITI G20t

By Tom Hagin

INFINITI G20t Full Line factory footage (4:38) 28.8, 56k, or 200k

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 22,495
Price As Tested                                    $ 23,940
Engine Type              DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 122 cid/1998 cc
Horsepower                                   140 @ 6400 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               132 @ 4800 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  102.4"/66.7"/177.5"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     2953 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  15.9 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                  P195/60R15 H-rated all season
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                        N/A
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                               23/31/27       
0-60 MPH                                        9.0 Seconds
1/4 mile (E.T.)                       17.5 seconds 81.0 mph
Top speed                                           120 mph
* Sequential multi-point fuel injection

For 1999, Infiniti has brought back its entry-level luxury G20 sedan. After being discontinued in 1996, it reappears as a new model based on the Nissan Primera, a very popular Europe-only sport sedan.

Infiniti says the entry-level luxury market segment has grown. And with the company's Total Ownership Experience, or TOE, buyers will experience service beyond what's expected at many dealerships.

OUTSIDE - There's no mistaking the fact that G20's roots begin with a compact sedan that's been enhanced with aero style add-ons. Compared to the old model, however, the new G20 has a more pronounced wedge shape, with sharper edges and a higher tail, along with rocker sill and lower valance extensions and a new grille. A sporty rear spoiler is standard with G20t models, as are low profile tires and web-patterned alloy wheels. This new version is bigger, too, with a two-inch stretch in wheelbase and almost three inches more overall length. It's no wider, though, and its aerodynamics cheat the wind with a low 0.30 coefficient of drag. A set of "jewel-like" headlamps offer better lighting than the old version's lamps. Lighted side markers offer a European flair.

INSIDE - The G20's interior benefited heavily from the redesign. Its new instrument panel is full of big buttons and soft-touch switches that fall easily to the hand. The shapes and textures of the dashboard aren't overly fancy, and the center console blends well with the stereo and climate controls. We didn't like the passenger side airbag cover, which sticks up about a half an inch - it just looked out of place. Inside access is easier now since the rear doors are wider with the front pillars moved forward. It has comfortable seats that are bolstered well, and they should fit all but the largest of occupants. Plenty of standard features put the G20 into the luxury class. Items such as automatic climate control, a 100-watt, six-speaker stereo system, power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control and variable speed intermittent wipers are standard. We found the three-point safety belt for the middle passenger of the rear seat to be a good feature.

ON THE ROAD - Under the hood is a 2.0 liter inline four cylinder engine. This all-aluminum powerplant is a slightly revised version of the engine that powered the previous G20. It uses dual overhead camshafts, sixteen valves and sequential multi-point fuel injection to make 140 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. New, however, is a revised engine mounting system that increases torsional rigidity by 10 percent, which makes a difference when the engine is winding up hard. A revised optional four-speed automatic transmission uses technology designed to make it "hunt" less when searching for the appropriate gear, but our favorite is the close-ratio five-speed manual. It features short, precise throws and smooth, fluid action. Touring models also come standard with a limited slip front differential, which helps control wheelspin on slippery surfaces.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - What's underneath G20 overshadows what's under the hood. The company was so serious about fine tuning G20's already nimble handling it set up temporary technical quarters at the famous Nurburgring race track in Germany for on-site research. The result is a car that steers and handles really well. Up front is a multi-link system that bucks the current trend of using MacPherson struts. In back, however, is what Infiniti calls its Multi-Link Beam suspension. It uses remarkably few pieces, which saves lots of space underneath the car, allowing for more space inside the car. It also does an excellent job of keeping the tires in maximum contact with the road under heavy cornering. Precise variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering delivers a light and accurate feel, while big four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) are standard.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, side airbags, side-impact door beams and ABS are all standard.

OPTIONS - Touring and Leather Package: (leather upholstery, power glass sunroof, universal transmitter, power driver's seat, micron ventilation filter) $1,200. Destination charge: $495.

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