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A Sentra masquerading at the Infiniti ball. Wait for the upcoming G35 sport sedan.
Sharp handling, Infiniti customer service, attractive styling.
Weak four-cylinder engine, Sentra-like feel and interior space, fills a niche nobody asked to be filled.
A Sport package featuring a body-color grille, dark tint headlight trim and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels debuts this year, as do two new exterior colors -- Silver Crystal and Maui Blue. The G20t, as Infiniti dubs the Touring package-equipped model, disappears this year.
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, the G20 promises buyers a stimulating and luxurious experience, but has difficulty delivering either in a convincing fashion.
This entry-entry-level luxury sedan provide buyers with goodies like side-impact airbags, fake wood cabin trim, remote keyless entry, Vehicle Immobilizer System Bose audio with an in-dash CD player and the usual battery of power conveniences. A new-for-2002 Sport package delivers a body-color grille, dark tint headlight trim, a limited-slip differential and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Leather and a sunroof are optional on the G20, bundled into a package that also includes automatic climate control and power driver seat. Heated seats are available as an option in conjunction with either the Sport package or the Leather and Sunroof package.
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. In fact, Infiniti prides itself on placing all switchgear in a manner that allows the driver to keep her eyes on the road.
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 G20, 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.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.