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Road Impressions: Infiniti I30

SEE ALSO: Infiniti Buyer's Guide

Andrew Frankl European Bureau Chief

2000 Infiniti Full Line Factory Video (6:08)

From an engineering point of view I have always been a great Nissan/Infiniti fan. In five years of testing their various cars and trucks none of them have ever missed a beat. Sure, there were certain things I did not care for such as the 50 year old handbrake design on the Xterra and the solid but gutless engine in the Pathfinder. Things I grew to love were things like their outstanding 3 liter V6 engine developing 227 horsepower and the truly sensational BOSE sound system. Every time I get into an Infiniti I always take with me my very best CDs, the ones where I can appreciate fortissimo and pianissimo without adjustments to the sound system. A big plus in my book.

The handling has always been fine, the multi-link beam suspension and the stabilizer bars see to that. As far as tires are concerned I firmly believe that racing improves the breed, consequently it is always nice to see a car arrive on the latest Bridgestones. I am told by their race engineers that all the information, all the knowledge gained on the race track under the most demanding conditions is fed straight back to Head Office so that the tires you and I drive on are improved all the time. It was the same with Goodyear, whose image improved dramatically in Europe whilst they were in Formula One.

I am not the least bit surprised that the I30 was voted by J.D.Power as the best entry luxury car in initial quality. The leather covered seats were perfectly comfortable, there was ample room for all the passengers and all in all the car had quality written all over it. The only question in my mind relates to the company's future. Can they -namely Nissan and Renault turn the corner. Do they have enough muscle to take on Ford, GM and Mercedes or will development and marketing costs simply prove to be too much? Will the new company be swallowed up by one that is even bigger? Don't get me wrong, I am not picking on Nissan. The same applies to Peugeot, Fiat and BMW to name but three. The vultures in the shape of the big three are hovering to pick up the pieces, hovering with their billions of dollars in the bank.

From a sheer innovation point of view Renault are at the top of the tree, their Espace, Scenic and Megane have all been runaway successes. If their design guru, Patrick le Quament is given time and money to work his magic wand over the styling of Nissan/Infiniti then we can all look forward to many more years of listening to the 200 Watt 7 speaker Bose systems in our Infinitis. I, for one, sincerely hope so.