New for the 2000 model year, the Infiniti I30 mid-sized luxury sedan is based on the recently-redesigned Nissan Maxima. Bigger than the previous I30, the new model has more luxury features and a revised 227 horsepower 3.0 litre V6 engine which has been rated by Ward’s Auto World as one of the world’s “10 Best Engines” for the past five years.
Bigger, better and cheaper
The Infiniti I30 is not as well-known as other ‘near luxury’ cars such as the Lexus ES300, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series, Acura 3.2TL, and Toyota Avalon, but it bears scrutiny if you’re interested in this type of car.
Why? Because the I30 is roomier than most of its rivals, and has one of the best V6 engines in the world, at least according to the influential U.S. auto publication, Ward’s Auto World. Another compelling reason to ponder the I30 is that the latest model is based on the recently-redesigned Nissan Maxima, which as I pointed out in a recent Test-Drive, is a terrific car.
The 2000 I30 shares the Maxima’s platform, powertrain and suspension, but differs in its exterior styling, interior appointments, horsepower, noise levels, level of standard equipment, and price. I30’s start at $39,700 compared to the top-of-the-line Maxima GLE at $34,900.
Compared to the previous Infiniti I30 which was introduced in 1995, the new I30 is roomier, more powerful, quieter, better-equipped, and surprise…cheaper. The 1999 Infiniti I30 was $41,950, or about $2000 more than the 2000 I30.
The new I30 is 4.1 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider, 0.8 inches taller, with a 2.0 inch longer wheelbase. Interior space has grown by 2.4 cubic feet and trunk space by 0.8 cubic feet. This is particularly noticeable in the rear seat where passengers have almost two inches more legroom. There are also gains in front seat headroom and legroom where the front footwell is wider.
The I30’s larger ‘greenhouse’ and sweeping dashboard also create the feeling of more interior space than before. The restyled interior includes a prominent traditional clock in the centre dash area, and new ‘low-fatigue’ heated front bucket seats. The driver’s seat has eight power adjustments with two-position memory, and the passenger seat has four power adjustments.
I30 Luxury models, which start at $39,700 include standard leather upholstery, automatic climate control, 200 watt Bose AM/FM/CD/cassette sound system with seven speakers, a centre console/armrest with two-level storage, 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks with valet lock function, power locks and windows, power moonroof, and keyless remote.
I30t, or Touring models, add a few items to this list such as P222/50VR-17 inch radials and different alloy wheels, a slightly stiffer suspension, Xenon gas discharge headlamps, side sill extensions, and an alloy wheel for the full-size spare tire.
All I30’s have been given a number of important safety features. To improve crash safety, the I30’s stronger body structure includes reinforced roof rails, side pillars and door beams. Inside are three-point seatbelts for all five passengers, pretensioners for the front seatbelts, dual front airbags, and dual side airbags. In addition, a new active head restraint system for the front seats reduces the chance of whiplash by moving up and forward to support the head in a collision.
Under the hood is, as I mentioned, one of the smoothest, quietest V6 engines available anywhere. The 3.0 litre ‘VQ’ V6 engine with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder now produces 227 horsepower, up from 190 horsepower. The horsepower boost can be attributed to a new variable air intake system, equal length dual exhaust pipes, and a new variable capacity muffler. The engine also has a bigger radiator and four engine mounts to reduce vibrations in the cabin. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment, but unlike the Maxima, a manual transmission is not available.
The I30 retains an independent front suspension and non-independent beam suspension at the rear, but the rear suspension has a relocated lateral link, softer bushings, and thicker stabilizer bars. The result is a softer ride without sacrificing the I30’s rather sporty handling abilities. 16 inch tires are standard on the Luxury model, and low-profile 17 inch tires standard on the Touring model. Poor weather performance has been improved by the addition of standard traction control and a limited slip differential.
To reduce brake fade and improve braking, the 2000 I30 also offers bigger rotors for its standard four wheel disc brakes which come with standard 4-channel ABS. Steering linearity has also been improved via refined engine-speed sensitive power steering.
All of these improvements add up to a more comfortable, better-handling mid-sized luxury car that is deceptively easy to drive, incredibly smooth and quiet on the freeway, and almost as roomy as a full-sized luxury car. I was particularly impressed with the contemporary design of the interior, including the large vent slats, big radio buttons, classic script on the instruments, and the brass-coloured clock on the dash.
The I30 leans in the corners, but grip is tenacious, and ride comfort is maintained even over rough, uneven surfaces. The I30 feels and drives like a well-built automobile, and Infiniti backs up these subjective impressions with a very good warranty: 4 years/80,000 km on the entire car and six years/100,000 km on the powertrain.
Built in Oppama, Japan, the 2000 I30 is already on sale.