Not being above trying to make a good thing better, the Infiniti Division of Nissan Motor Corp. has brought out a 1997 1/2 Infiniti J30, rather than wait for 1998.The 1997 1/2 J30, which was designed at the Nissan Design International Center at La Jolla, Calif., adopts a fluid shape. Rather than being a smaller version of the upscale Infiniti Q45, the sedan tends to stand out as a distinctive member of the Infiniti line.In an era when front-wheel drive is embraced by manufacturers as the answer to all of man's ills, the J30 has rear-wheel drive. To take advantage of this, power comes from an advanced piece of high technology, namely a 3.0- liter (180-cubic inch) V-6 that possesses double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing.The resulting smoking gun churns out 210-horsepower, considerably above the performance benchmark of 1- horsepower per cubic inch. Torque is 193 foot-pounds.You obviously need a chassis that can handle this sort of power, so Nissan's engineers have provided one that combines strength and rigidity without a significant increase in weight.A high density foam is injected into the chassis to reduce platform flex. The foam also acts to absorb ambient sounds and vibrations that can resonate in platform components.Combine this with DURASTEEL body panels that have significantly higher corrosion resistance than conventional galvanized steel panels, and you have a structure about as strong as a bridge.For the "heavy foot" contingent, Infiniti offers a "t" for Touring model. The J30t is a sportier version of the 1997 1/2 J30, offering a stylish decklid spoiler and unique forged alloy wheels.In the mechanical department, the J30t has recalibrated springs and stabilizer bars to better control body roll during high-speed cornering. Performance steel-belted radial tires are optional at no additional cost.These performance additions, combined with rear-wheel drive, will let the road racer types throw the car around in a manner that won't work with a front- wheel drive.The rear end contains a viscous limited slip differential that drives both wheels when one begins to slip. If you get the back end out in the middle of a fast turn, you can get it back in. However, it is highly recommended with this style of driving that you know what you're doing with that throttle and steering wheel.I'd say the acceleration characteristics are fair, based mainly on the fact that there is no five- speed gearbox offered. The transmission is an electronically controlled four- speed automatic.The automatic produces 0-60 mph in 8.3 seconds. A five- speed, with which you could let that DOHC V-6 really wind through the gears, probably would knock off a full second or more.The mileage, however, is pretty attractive with the automatic, at 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.The J30 carries a sticker of $33,500 plus $495 for freight. The J30t with the Touring package is an additional $2,000.Infiniti s lashed the cost of both models a little over $2,200 late last year, but the prices still put the sedans squarely in the luxury category.As such, the interior does make a statement.The car is a five-seater, with the driver's compartment having the traditional center console that mounts the shift quadrant for the automatic transmission. Leather seats are standard. And with 191.3 inches of overall length on a 108.7 inch wheelbase, the interior room is comfortable.Adding to the comfort are eight-way heated power front seats, a power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, cruise- control switches mounted within the steering wheel rim, and full carpeting and floor mats.With virtually everything being standard on this 1997 1/2 J30, the only options are the Touring Package and a trunk-mounted multi-disc CD autochanger.
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