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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview A new Sport Package is available for Infinitis 2002 entry-level sedan, which went on sale in March 2001. The Sport group includes a body-colored grille, European-style 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-appointed interior and silver gauges. Infiniti is Nissans luxury brand, and the front-drive G20 shares certain components, including its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with the Nissan Sentra.
Early in 2002, a rear-drive G35 high-performance premium sports sedan with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine is expected to debut. Based on the Nissan Skyline supercar offered only in Japan, the styling of the G35 is thought to be influenced by the big Q45 sedan, as well as by Infinitis XVL concept vehicle. Expected in the spring of 2002 as a 2003 model, the G35 will edge aside the existing front-drive G20. This change will give Infiniti a stronger challenger to the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS 300 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan.
Exterior With its similar shape to the Nissan Sentra and its compact dimensions, the G20 four-door sedan is 177.5 inches long about 3 inches longer than the Honda Civic sedan. The G20 rides a 102.4-inch wheelbase, measures 66.7 inches wide and stands 55.1 inches high. The G20t touring model is easily distinguished by its standard rear spoiler.
Interior The automaker claims the G20 has a five-passenger capacity, but its rear seat lacks sufficient legroom for most adults to fit comfortably. Cloth upholstery is standard, and leather is optional. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a Bose sound system with cassette and CD players, remote keyless entry, a theft-deterrent system, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Cargo volume amounts to 13.5 cubic feet.
Under the Hood A 145-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mates with a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Driving Impressions Criticisms of the G20 have centered on performance, and its true that the four-cylinder cannot match the vigor of a V-6 engine. For that reason, a model with a bigger engine would be welcome. When passing and merging, the G20 suffers from an undeniable shortage of strength, though proper shifting with a manual transmission makes higher-speed performance passable. Along that line, the top-notch gearbox and clutch ranks as one of the best, shifting easily and precisely and permitting eager yet gentle takeoffs.
Nevertheless, the G20s handling skills might just outweigh any lack in the power department. Taut, balanced handling is this sedans principal talent. Ride comfort could be better through urban pavement, but its great on the highway. An absorbent suspension produces a satisfying experience, coupled with excellent stability and control. Crispness during cornering also is a bonus. Construction quality is particularly solid and tight, too. Considering the price charged for a G20, its a little hard to get past that performance penalty.