FWD Champions: The P10 Infiniti G20
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.
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.
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:
- Peugeot 205 GTI
- B4 Volkswagen Passat
- Lancia Fulvia Coupe
- Acura Vigor
- Mazda Millenia
- Citroën SM
- Fiat Coupé
- ’91-’94 B13 Nissan Sentra SE-R
- ’88-’92 Mazda MX-6
- Audi Coupe GT
- Volkswagen Corrado
- Peugeot 405 Mi16
- ’78-’93 Saab 900
- Volvo 850 T-5R
- 5th-generation Honda Prelude
- 1st- and 2nd-generation Volkswagen Scirocco