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The Infiniti I30 reviewed here has since been replaced by the redesigned I35 model shown (see separate review of the 2002 I35).

2000 Infiniti I30 Road Test
Setting a new baseline

By Bill Roebuck

Here's a mid-sized luxury sedan that sets a new baseline for others to meet. Although it lists at $41,500 -- what the high-end manufacturers call "mid-priced" -- you get a lot of value for your money. In fact, the price for the 2000 model is 4% lower than its predecessor.

Right from the first press on the gas pedal, you know the I30 is going to be an enjoyable drive. First, there's the comfortable environment. Supple leather seats are standard. The white-on-black instruments are large and well-positioned. The radio and ventilation controls are large and easy to use. The power seats can be adjusted to the most comfortable position and have two memory settings. The seat also retracts when the engine is turned off to make it easy to get in and out of the car.

Most of the controls are right where you'd like them to be, with one major exception. The radio volume and air temperature knobs are identically sized, shaped and coloured, and sit right next to each other. It's too easy to turn the temperature knob when you intended to adjust the radio volume, unless you look first. Differently designed knobs with a different feel (or tactile feedback, as the designers call it) would make a lot more sense. (This is a perfect example of the flaw of emphasizing form over function -- a pretty common drawback with almost every car manufacturer, where you might think the designers take the bus to work and not drive the cars they design. But let's not get off track -- this is a minor nitpick in a wonderful-to-drive vehicle.)

Performance comes from Nissan's newly enhanced, 227 horsepower version of its 3.0 litre, twin-cam V6. It's smooth, quiet and powerful -- offering more horsepower than any competitive model. This engine has been rated for the past five years as one of the world's "10 Best Engines" by Ward's Auto World, an industry publication, which also exclaimed the 2000 engine is "quite simply the best V6 available in North America." We concur. The smooth, four-speed automatic always seems to find the right gear when you need it, with no lag or thumping in the gear changes. Acceleration is as fast as you'll ever need.

The handling is firm yet comfortable, and taut steering makes this sedan nimble on the road. It doesn't have the stick-to-the-road feel of my own '88 Nissan 300 ZX Turbo, but there's a similarity to the performance that makes you want to drive the I30 like a sports car. This car seems to have a bit of that "Z" spirit in it.

The interior ambiance sets a high standard overall. Front and rear seat room is plentiful. Standard features include a 200-watt, seven-speaker Bose stereo system, front and side airbags, active front-seat head restraints to help avert whiplash injury, traction control, an electric rear-window sunshade, and a four-year, 100,000 km warranty (six years for major components). The purchase price includes four years of roadside assistance and Infiniti loaners during scheduled service appointments.

Fuel economy is excellent for such a powerful engine --2 4 mpg city, 36 mpg highway (11.9 and 7.8 L/100 km). The I30 Luxury model is $39,700 and the l30t Touring model we tested (which adds 17-in. wheels, performance tires and an upgraded suspension) is $41,500.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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