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New Car/Review

1999 Infiniti I30

By Tom Hagin

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


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 28,900
     Price As Tested                                    $ 31,465
     Engine Type        VVT* DOHC 24-valve 3.0 Liter V6 w/SMFI**
     Engine Size                                 182 cid/2988 cc
     Horsepower                                   190 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               205 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.3"/69.7"/189.6"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3219 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  18.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                     P205/65R15
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                               Five-percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            21/28/25         
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.5 seconds @ 86 mph
     Top speed                                           125 mph
     * Variable valve timing
     ** Sequential multi-point fuel injection

The Infiniti I30 was introduced in 1996 as an upscale fraternal twin to the Nissan Maxima. It offered lots of standard luxury features and sparkling performance at a price that started at under $30,000. And while it hasn't changed much since then, it has benefited from numerous refinements over the years, at around the same base price.

It continues to be sold as the well-equipped Standard and the sporty Touring models, with a Leather edition offered in-between. This week's test took place behind the wheel of the I30 Standard.

OUTSIDE - Except for the formal grille and different sheetmetal at both ends, I30 looks a bit like its corporate clone. Infiniti, however, prefers the look to be closer to that of its upscale brother, the posh Infiniti Q45. Efforts to identify I30 as a separate entity focuses on the front and rear ends. I30's tail is clean and squared-off, with a full-width reflector element that ties together the tail lights. Up front, the detailed chrome grille creates a luxurious appearance and a set of standard fog lights splits a wide intake opening. Alloy wheels and performance tires are standard, and new this year is the availability of a two-tone paint scheme.

INSIDE - The interior of the I30 is spacious enough to be called mid-sized, with ample amounts of head, leg and shoulder room. Cloth upholstery is standard, though our test car came equipped with a Leather package, which added leather, a power glass moonroof, HomeLink transmitter and an anti-glare rearview mirror. Its interior trim shows exemplary fit and finish, with a standard eight-way power driver's seat and a four-way power passenger chair. A special power lumbar adjustment is also included for the driver. A new option this year is an in-vehicle communicator system, which combines a cellular telephone with global positioning satellites in case of an emergency. A few of the many standard features include power windows, mirrors and door locks, climate control, variable speed intermittent wipers, rear window defroster, cruise control, tilt steering and a 200-watt Bose AM/FM/Cassette/CD system.

ON THE ROAD - Powering the I30 is a free-revving 3.0 liter V6 engine that produces 190 horsepower and 205 pounds/feet of torque. It uses dual overhead camshafts and 24 valves, and offers lots of power at low revs. This all-aluminum powerplant has been universally praised as the heart of one of the quickest near-luxury sedans on the market for several years now, and for its smooth, seamless delivery. The I30 can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just eight seconds flat and will run through the quarter mile at over 85 miles per hour. Power is plentiful for passing, and steep mountain highways are easy to climb. Mated to this engine is a standard five-speed manual transmission, which is very rare in this class of car, or an optional four-speed automatic. Also available with the automatic is a traction control system and a limited slip differential that helps to reduce wheelspin on slippery pavement.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Underneath the I30 is a chassis and suspension system that is remarkable in its simplicity, which contributes to the car's reasonable price, but it gives very good results. Up front is a MacPherson strut-type setup that is mounted to the chassis' subframe to give extra stiffness. The rear carries a relatively simple multi-link beam axle, while both ends use coil springs, tube shocks and anti-roll bars. The ride is very quiet, but a little on the firm side. Body roll and tires scrub in hard corners is noticeable, though for the enthusiast driver, there is the Touring model with its even stiffer sport-tuned suspension. Inputs to its speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering are quick and precise, and the system does a good job of keeping ahead of fast steering transitions. Braking comes from four-wheel disc brakes with a standard four-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, dual side-impact airbags, door beams and ABS are standard; traction control is optional.

OPTIONS - Six-disc CD changer: $740; Leather and convenience package: $1,300; Destination: $525.