What's New for 2001
G20t comes with standard leather and a power sunroof this year. Luxury models can be equipped with leather and a manual transmission simultaneously. And hold on to your hat -- the side marker lights switch from amber lenses to clear.
Infiniti aims its G20 at the young, affluent 25- to 35-year-old demographic that aspires to own an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Lexus IS 300, but can't quite squeeze one of those models into the budget. Essentially a Japan-market Nissan with a chrome grille and an Infiniti badge, G20 promises buyers a stimulating and luxurious experience, but has difficulty delivering either in a convincing fashion.
Two models are available. Luxury editions provide buyers with goodies like side-impact airbags, fake wood cabin trim, remote keyless entry, Bose audio with 100 watts of power and the usual battery of power conveniences. Touring models add automatic climate control, a limited-slip differential, foglights, a rear spoiler and more aggressive tires. For 2001, G20t, as the Touring model is badged, includes leather seats and a power sunroof. Leather and a sunroof are optional on the G20 Luxury, bundled into a package that also includes automatic climate control. A heated seats package can be added to either model.
One neat option unusual for a car in this price range is the Infiniti Communicator (IC) telematics system. Featuring one-touch calling for help in an emergency or to get roadside assistance, IC also helps retrieve your G20 if it's been stolen, monitors fiddling with the car's standard Vehicle Immobilizer System, and can unlock your doors remotely in the event you lock them in the car or lose them. But the IC costs plenty to install, and we're not sure it's worthwhile, despite the fact that the asking price includes a four-year subscription.
G20's 145-horsepower 2.0-liter DOHC engine revs freely and smoothly, but can be deemed spirited only when equipped with a manual transmission. The optional four-speed automatic saps power, emasculating the performance part of the car's equation. Curvy roads are where the G20 shines, thanks to a well-tuned suspension and communicative engine speed-sensitive steering. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS haul the 3,000-pound G20 to a stop assertively.
Cabin space is decent for four adults, though rear-seat legroom is rather tight. Sturdy assembly is evident throughout, and the dash sports clearly labeled gauges and properly placed controls.
Despite the fact that the G20 is an attractive set of well-equipped wheels, its downmarket positioning and overall feel dictate that it cannot compete with the Audis, BMWs and Lexus models in which young up-and-comers are interested. We know that the Infiniti dealer body is respectful and courteous to consumers, but think about it this way: a similarly powered Ford Focus ZTS, Nissan Sentra SE or Mazda Protege ES stickers for as much as $10,000 less than the G20. Is 10 grand worth a couple of nice doodads, a better warranty and getting your butt kissed at the dealership?
Furthermore, for the price of a loaded G20t, you can waltz into a Nissan showroom and blast out in a roomier, more powerful Maxima SE. That fact alone is reason enough to forget the G20 even exists.