The Car Connection Infiniti I30 Overview
The Infiniti I30 was a mid-size, front-wheel-drive luxury sedan spun off from the Nissan Maxima. On sale in the U.S. from 1996 to 2001, it was preceded by the rear-drive Infiniti J30, and underwent a name change after 2001 to become the Infiniti I35.
The I30 was built in Nissan's factory in Oppama, Japan, while its Maxima cousin had moved Stateside, for assembly at Nissan's massive assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.
In its launch year, the Infiniti I30 was a competitor for the likes of the Lexus ES 300 and the Acura 3.2TL--a size class larger than the compact Infiniti G20. Powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 shared with other Nissans, the I30 made 190 horsepower, teamed to either a manual or an automatic transmission. A Touring model had more taut suspension tuning and a decklid spoiler.
The I30 never was a major sales success. The reason? Mostly because the similar Nissan Maxima cost less and carried much of the same goodness. In the 2000 model year, Infiniti attempted to put some distance between its sedan and the more popular Nissan counterpart. It boosted output in the I30's V-6 to 227 horsepower--but dropped the manual-transmission option. New features were added though the I30's base price lingered at about $30,000: the I30 gained standard leather upholstery, 16-inch wheels, and a sunroof. It was also subtly restyled inside and out, with new fascias and an analog clock on the dash.
Touring sedans came with a sport suspension, a limited-slip front differential, high-intensity discharge headlamps, and 17-inch wheels and tires, with an option for a rear spoiler.
The I30 also was one of the first Nissan/Infiniti vehicles to offer an active head restraint system and side airbags in the front seating positions.
In our review of the 2000 Infiniti I30, we recommended the sedan over the Lexus, though Acura's mid-sizer gave pause. "The I30 makes for a fine executive express, and the restyling up front gives it some much-needed character. If you don't miss the manual gearbox too much, it's the edgiest of this Japanese trio," we wrote.
For the 2001 model year, the I30 once again was revised. The engine's displacement was upped to 3.5 liters for a net 255 horsepower; it also gained revised styling, bigger brakes, a retuned suspension, standard traction control, and available stability control. To underscore those changes, Infiniti renamed the sedan I35, though it would only sell it for two model years until its new rear-drive Infiniti G35 sedan was ready.