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1999 Infiniti G20

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1999 Infiniti G20
Available in 3 styles:  G20t 4dr Touring shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

23 city / 31 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 13
1999 Infiniti G20 4.3 6
$ 1,899-5,887
April 18, 1999

In an era that finds the tenets of Alfred Sloan, former chieftan and architect of GM, fading at the company he founded, one finds them alive and well at other automakers.

Take Infiniti, Nissan's upscale division. Introduced in 1991, the G20 was designed as an entry-level vehicle for Nissan lovers working their way up the company food chain. Starting at just over $20K large ones, it was meant as an entry level or "near luxury" sedan. Of course, "near luxury" is one of those endearing marketing terms that in reality makes little sense, like "honest politician."

Nissan shipped its G20 back overseas after 1996, leaving the freshly minted I30 as Infiniti's entry level offering. That this Maxima with an attitude cost almost 30 large ones, didn't seem to bother anyone until Infiniti's sales slumped.

So now it's 1999. Welcome back the G20.

Actually, this is a car known through the rest of the world as the Nissan Primera, which explains why some of the interior parts feel very Nissan-like. But all Inifiniti did was slap some freshly minted nameplates and some leather into this puppy to create their entry-level offering, meant to do battle against Audi A4s and the BMW 3-series.

It worked well last time. This time it seems a bit less convincing.

The styling is crisp, conservative and a bit too easy to lose in the mall parking lot. Opting for the up-level G20t yields fog lamps and a rear spoiler to the exterior furnishings along with lower profile tires. So, it looks upscale, as long as you don't want to stand out.

Although the looks are similar to the previous model, the car is larger inside. There's more rear leg room, although at 177-inches long overall, it's not exactly the wide-open spaces. But its comparable to its competition.

Motivation comes from the same engine it had nine years ago, a double-overhead-cam 2-liter 16-valve 4-cylinder rated at the same horsepower, 140. While that wasn't bad in 1991, it seems a bit underwhelming in 1999. This car has less ponies than a Nissan Altima or any of its competition. Not that it doesn't get the job done. Power seems adequate, but with only 132 foot pounds of torque, don't expect to be first off the line in the stoplight grand prix.

Like any four-cylinder, there's enough buzziness to remind you of how many cylinders are under the hood. but this is the same engine as in the Nissan Sentra SE so its fuel economy is quite good returning 24 mpg over the test drive.

Handling is good for a front-driver, certainly there's no torque steer here. But the car gives an athletic driving experience with a firm ride and rather quick steering. Distressingly, it also comes with a fair amount of body lean, although ultimate grip is good. Those expecting the sportiness of a Maxima will be disappointed.

Some of that is due to Nissan using its multi-link rear beam axle, rather than an independent rear suspension. But this is pretty common in most of their cars.

The previous G2 0 seemed like an inexpensive BMW alternative; the new one, at least in the handling department, seems less so. Handling is good, just not as good as it was. Overall, it's a smoothy. Just don't expect gobs of power.

Tires are larger this time out -- 15-inchers rather than 14-inchers. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock are standard on all models. Braking was good, with the pedal being easy to modulate smoothly. A five-speed manual is standard; four-speed automatic is optional.

The driving position is good, as is visibility. There's more leg room this year for the driver, although the broad-of-beam will find the seats narrow.

Each passenger will find three-point belts, with front and side air-bags standard.

Trunk room was quite good for the size of the car, with split-folding rear seats and a cargo net to help out with hauling.

If you're thinking of opting for the base G20, keep in mind most of the features that would make this vehicle a "luxury" or "near-luxury`' vehicle aren't standard. No sunroof, fog lamps, leather, power sunroof, heated seats, air-filtration, automatic climate control, power driver's seat or built-in garage-door opener. Those are optional above the $21,490 base price.

The keyless entry unlocks the doors, but doesn't pop the trunk.

Keep in mind that overall, this was a perfectly adequate compact, with decent handling, a great Bose sound system and a moderate base price. But when optioned, some will find its almost $25,000 price a questionable value.

But luxury marques are never about value; it's about perceived value. One doesn't need a fur coat when a cloth coat will keep one just as warm. Whether the G20 is worth fur or cloth coat prices is up to you.

One would suspect however, that Mr. Sloan would approve.

1999 Infiniti G20t

Engine: 2-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder

Transmissions: 5-speed manual standard, 4-speed automatic optional

Tires: P195/65R15 (base) or P195/ 60R15 (t)

Standard: Four-wheel disc brakes, aluminum alloy wheels, rear spoiler, fog lamps, cloth seats, manually adjustable drivers seat, cruise control, power windows with driver's express down, power door locks, AM/FM Cassette/CD audio system, cup holders, map light, dual front and side airbags, keyless entry, security system.

Options: Touring Leather and Convenience Package (leather interior, power sunroof, power drivers seat, climate control filtration). Heated seat package (heated seats and mirrors).

Base price, base model: $21,490

Base price, test model: $23, 295

As tested: $25,410

EPA rating: 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway

Test mileage: 24 mpg

    Expert Reviews 1 of 13

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