In the increasingly crowded near-luxury car market, the new Inifiniti I30 weighs in pretty hefty. With 37 more horsepower this year, plus fresh styling and more safety features, it's certainly a big step up over its ancestor.
The I30 has some tough competition, though, namely the Acura 3.2TL and Lexus ES 300. What's more, the similar Nissan Maxima costs less and carries much of the same goodness. And that's why Nissan has endeavored to make this I30 more of a distant cousin to the Maxima, and a better fighting prospect against its competitors.
For starters, the new I30 was styled at Nissan’s Japanese studio while the Maxima was done at Nissan Design International in California. While the cars do share most of their components, they have quite dissimilar front and rear sections. The valet probably isn’t going to think you're driving an ordinary Nissan when you pull up in the new I30.
Besides new styling, several features give the 2000 I30 a leg up on its predecessor. Features now designated as standard include leather interior, a power rear window sunshade, moonroof, automatic transmission, 16-inch wheels, and an elegant analog clock. Traction control and heated seats are $300 and $420 options, respectively. A Bose audio system equipped with a subwoofer and an in-dash cassette/CD player is also standard, while a trunk-mounted six-disc changer can be added for $740.
Whiplash on the run
New on the safety front for the I30 are front seats equipped with Lear Corp.’s new active head restraint system. The system helps reduce whiplash neck injuries in collisions by better locating the head restraint bolster to support the neck in a crash. In addition to the active head restraint system, the new front seats are also equipped with side airbags to protect occupants in a side collision.
The sportier I30t touring model gets High Intensity Discharge headlamps with smoked lenses to set it apart from the regular I30. The car also comes standard with 17-inch wheels and tires that are more aggressive. A sport-tuned suspension and a limited-slip front differential help better deliver the car’s power to the pavement. A sport package is available on the I30t for $1,000. It includes a rear spoiler and side sills.