The Infinity I30 was a four door front-wheel drive sedan that introduced Nissan's Infinity line of entry-level luxury vehicles to North America. Although it was not available in different body types and only two trim options were available, the I30 was almost instantly well received thanks to its dependable construction and luxury features compared to its immediate competition. The I30 preceded the I35 and other luxury Nissan sedans under the Infinity brand.
The I30 gets its name from its 3.0L VQ30DE V6 which produced 190hp in its first generation and about 227 hp with 217 lb-ft of torque in its 2001 model. As the first Nissan rebranded under the Infinity line in the United States and Canada, Infinity built every I30 in Oppama, Japan. The I30 seated five in its spacious interior. Two transmissions were available, a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic, but the manual transmission was eventually phased out of production.
After its introduction in 1996, the Infinity I30 quickly turned heads with its top-of-the-line luxury features and fuel-efficient, powerful engine. However, it remained an entry-level luxury sedan despite Nissan's efforts to update the vehicle with more power, better braking and more interior features. In 2001, the Infiniti I series received an upgrade to a 3.5 liter VQ35DE V6 and was renamed the I35 to reflect the new engine, which effectively ended the I30 line with the 2001 model. In 2004, the I35 line ended as well.
The Infiniti I30 offered a variety of options, including a manual transmission for the first generation of the vehicle and luxury add-ons. For instance, a car phone was available in the mid 1990s as were steering wheel audio controls and other minor extras. Two trim options were available, the Luxury and the Touring trim. An I30 with the Touring trim primarily upgraded the wheels from 16 to 17" while offering a spoiler and different suspension tuning. However, the luxury trim was more popular.
The Infiniti I30 was one of the best entry-level luxury vehicles of its time and received numerous awards. Its first generation received a top ranking from J.D. Power and Associates in 1999 and accolades from publications such as Car and Driver magazine. With safety features like front active head restraints and passenger airbags, it also received a four star rating from the NHTSA and superb marks from drivers for its excellent reliability. The I30 is a shining example of Infiniti's dominance and many of its features and styling live on in newer Nissan models.
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