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FWD Champions: The P10 Infiniti G20

June 21, 2012 by Matt

Infiniti G20 P10 Silver

Early Infiniti cars have been given short shrift by automotive enthusiasts. I’ve written articles on the underrated first generations of the Q45 and M45, and today’s car—the first gen “P10″ Infiniti G20—also falls into the overlooked-yet-excellent category, in spite of the fact that its front wheels do the pulling.

A rebadged version of the Japanese-market-only Nissan Primera, the ’91-’96 G20 is blessed with fundamental goodness in two key areas: its engine and front suspension. The engine is the same brilliant 2.0l, 140-hp SR20DE 4-cyl fitted to Nissan’s contemporary Sentra SE-R, a rev-happy, robust, smooth and torquey powerplant, one of the all-time greats. Regarding the front suspension, Popular Science wrote in a period review:

It uses a variation of the Nissan 300ZX multi-link front suspension, adapted for the first time to accept a front-wheel-drive power train. It is a complex but compact system, and it works like magic with the conventional strut-and-link rear setup to provide a combination of accurate steering, wheel control, and ride quality. In short, it’s tremendous fun to drive quickly.

Infiniti G20 P10 Interior Inside Cockpit Dashboard Dash Console

Coupled with a commendably low curb weight of just over 2850 lbs, the G20 delivered 0-60 times in the mid-8 second range—not smoking fast by any stretch, but respectable for the era—along with grin-inducing, tossable handling enabled by the suspension design noted above. All told, the car’s tautness and verve gives it a very European feel for something originating from Japan.

Infiniti G20 P10 Red Auburn

In spite of its engine and chassis brilliance, one glance at the utterly, completely bland and featureless styling renders moot the question of why the P10 G20 is frequently overlooked. Even for the early ’90s, a period that saw dozens of vanilla-ish cars flood the market, the first-gen G20’s design is particularly inert. Especially considering it was then-brand-new Infiniti’s first crack at an entry-level car, they might have been better served to have drawn a shape with a bit more splash. But for those who prioritize mechanical and dynamic excellence over the appearance of it, the first-gen G20 is worth checking out.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting FWD cars I think highly of, in spite of my overwhelming RWD bias. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: FWD Champions, Infiniti

5 comments

    • Matt says:

      Great lists! Big thumbs up for your inclusion of the Citroën SM—I need to do an article on that little jewel at some point.

      Enjoy your writing. Will add you to the blogroll.

  1. Mark says:

    Thanks for giving some ink to this under-appreciated car, born when Japan’s auto industry was at its peak. At 20 years old, the one in my garage still looks–and drives–like new.

    The interior shown here doesn’t look anything like mine. I believe that photo comes from the sad, vanilla, second-generation g20, a victim of cost-cutting at Nissan during the late ’90s. The first generation dashboard is more curvaceous, and arguably more timeless.

    • Matt says:

      Hi Mark. No problem. Part of this blog’s raison d’être is to spotlight under-appreciated cars. :)

      Thanks for the heads-up about the interior. I’ll see if I can find the correct image.

  2. Zach says:

    Fantastic article, and I definitely agree, as I am in love with the P10 G20 as well.. However, Mark is correct, that is indeed a P11’s interior picture. Just as a heads up… Both deserve love, as both are fantastic cars! Thank you for writing this article!

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