SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 23,695 Price As Tested $ 25,519 Engine Type DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI* Engine Size 121 cid/1988 cc Horsepower 145 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 136 @ 4800 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 102.4"/66.7"/177.5" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3162 pounds Fuel Capacity 15.9 gallons Tires (F/R) 195/60R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 5 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.30 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 23/30/27 0-60 MPH 9.9 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 18.4 seconds @ 79.7 mph Top-speed 125 mph * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
The Infiniti G20, first introduced as a luxurious version of the reliable Nissan Sentra, was essentially off the market from 1996 to 1998 but was re-introduced for the 1999 model year.
Now built on the platform of the European and Japanese market-only Nissan Primera, it comes as the standard G20 or as our tester, the G20t.
OUTSIDE - There's really nothing outstanding about the looks of the G20, nor are there blatant styling offenses. In fact, when viewing the G20 now, it looks much like the original, but is different in detail. The height of the trunk became taller, which added more trunk room. The taller tail gave it more of a wedge shape, though the roof line is relatively flat. And with the redesign came a two-inch stretch in wheelbase and just over that in overall length, along with just under a half-inch height increase. The rear doors became larger and the B-pillars were moved forward to make climbing in the back seat easier. G20t models like our tester wear ground-effects body cladding just below the doors and a short rear spoiler perched conspicuously on top of the trunk lid. Unique star-patterned alloy wheels and low profile tires are also part of the Touring package.
INSIDE - Since the G20 is classified by the EPA as a compact sedan, don't expect lots of passenger space. There is, however, enough room for four average-sized adults to cruise comfortably, with those in back being squeezed ever-so slightly. The front bucket seats, similar to those used on the company's QX4 SUV, are supportive, but a bit on the narrow side, though the standard soft leather upholstery of our unit proved comfortable. Infiniti paid close attention to sound deadening, with the result being a highway ride that is four decibels quieter than before. The appealing dashboard uses quality materials that fit well and controls that are within easy reach. Standard features include a 60/40- split rear seat, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks, variable speed intermittent wipers, automatic climate control, power driver's seat and a 100-watt stereo.
ON THE ROAD - Our G20t used a refined version of the 2.0 liter inline four cylinder engine that has powered G20s since the beginning. It features 16 valves, double overhead camshafts and an all-aluminum structure to produce an impressive 145 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. Like the original version, it's somewhat high-strung, and with the standard five-speed manual transmission, it is great fun around town. Launching into high-speed traffic is never a white-knuckle experience, provided the engine is booted to its upper rpm ranges. Also, a new four-point engine-mounting system has contributed significantly to a reduction in noise, vibration and harshness. Changing gears is a smooth, engaging experience, with close ratios and a delightfully fluid action. Infiniti expects most to be sold with an automatic, but for driving fun, we'd choose the stick-shift.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - Conventional unibody construction is what the G20 rides on, but what's connected to this is not run-of-the-mill. Suspension development was a joint effort between Nissan's British and Japanese development arms, with the emphasis on sporty European handling. Its front suspension is a multi-link design, with coil springs, a thick sway bar and well-balanced damping. The unique rear multi-link beam suspension, patented by Nissan, combines the basic elements of a space-saving torsion-beam setup with the outstanding handling qualities of a multi-link design. Combined with its excellent variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering system, the G20t is a great handling sports sedan. Add to this oversized four-wheel disc brakes with a standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) and you get much more technology than G20's modest price suggests.
SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side-impact airbags, steel side-impact door beams and ABS are standard.
OPTIONS - Leather and Convenience Package (leather seating, power sunroof, HomeLink universal transmitter, power driver's seat, micron ventilation system filter), $1,200; Splash guards, $99.