A bigger V-6 engine goes into the midrange Infiniti sedan, transforming its model designation from I30 to I35. Evolved from the Nissan Maxima, the midsize front-drive I30 sedan was redesigned for 2000, and styling features have not changed dramatically. A new Q45-style titanium-colored grille sits between xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, and the taillights and trunk lid have been restyled. A more crucial change is the 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Nissans Maxima also gets the larger power plant for 2002.
Additional power helps move the I35 closer to the new Q45. An electronically controlled throttle is used, and the automaker says the four-speed-automatic transmission is strengthened. Traction control is standard, and electronic brake-force distribution and Brake Assist are new for 2002. Bigger front and rear stabilizer bars are installed, 17-inch tires are mounted on alloy wheels, and the driver works with a new serpentine-style shift gate. The stereo system has a six-CD changer and a cassette player.
The optional Sport Package includes Vehicle Dynamic Control, a sport suspension, special alloy wheels and side sill spoilers. Infiniti is Nissans luxury division, and the I30 has been the most popular model by far, with more than 39,000 units sold during 2000. Its main rivals include the BMW 3 Series and Lexus ES 300.
Despite their close relationship, no body panels are shared between the I35 and Maxima, apart from the roof. Styling for the I35 was done in Japan, while the Maxima was designed at Nissans California studio. Appearance features include prominent hood creases, a chrome grille similar to that of the Q45, and flush-mounted high-intensity-discharge headlights.
With a 108.3-inch wheelbase, the I35 is just under 194 inches long overall, which is 2.6 inches longer than the redesigned ES 300 and almost 18 inches longer than BMWs 3 Series sedan. The I35 is 70.2 inches wide and 57 inches tall. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires, and sport wheels and performance tires are optional.
The I35 remains equipped for five occupants. The split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space. Leather upholstery and a 200-watt Bose sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer are standard. The radio operates using the Radio Data System (RDS) and includes a cassette player and steering-wheel audio controls.
Seats are upholstered with Sojourner leather, flanking a wood-accented center console. A classically styled analog clock in the center of the dashboard has been an Infiniti hallmark, and it is revised this year. A power-operated rear-window sunshade is included, and Nissans Birdview navigation system is optional. Trunk capacity is 14.9 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The new 24-valve, 3.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V-6 engine produces 260 hp and mates to a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard. Active head restraints for front occupants move up and forward in rear-end collisions to reduce the chance of whiplash injuries. Antilock brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist, as well as traction control, are standard. Infinitis electronic stability system called Vehicle Dynamic Control, which is part of the Sport Package, is optional.