• Jan 25, 2010
Loyalists will accept a less powerful 2.5-liter G-Series in the model range, but how will they embrace a front-wheel drive model from Nissan's upscale – and enthusiast targeted – Infiniti brand?
Larry Dominique, Nissan North America Inc.'s vice president for product planning, hinted during a recent interview that Infiniti is considering an entry-level vehicle (or a family of models) based on a front-wheel drive platform. This isn't unfamiliar territory for the Japanese automaker. Shortly after the brand debuted, the front-wheel drive 1991 G20 (based on the JDM Nissan Primera) arrived on the scene. It was followed several years later by the 1996 I30 (a gussied-up Nissan Maxima). By 2005, in a strategy designed to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti had reverted back to an all rear-wheel drive lineup led by the 3.5-liter G35, and later with a few all-wheel drive models.

According to Dominique, many buyers do not know, or care, whether their vehicles are FWD or AWD, citing the Acura TSX and TL models as examples. "Those buyers are OK with it... I think we could deliver Infiniti off a different platform and deliver the experience Infiniti customers expect," he added without going into detail.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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  • 58 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      who cares--its all Japanese garbage anyways. Let them ! A real driver wants a german rear-wheel drive car or a CTS-v :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Although I love the look and interior .. if you drive a RWD in Winter you will keep the grim reaper in sitting next to you for a lot of our trips.

      I drove a Dodge Coronet with Posi-traction and it was very good in Winter; but the new traction controls are simply awful. I had a Cadillac Deville do this .. it launches you like normal for about 15 feet, then the engine power cuts out as the traction control kicks in (which feels very much like loosing 2/3 your power). So it puts you nicely in the middle of traffic and then you have no power --- lovely experience.

      A person at work has an Infinity G35 -- beautiful car, but he always borrows my lowly Neon. I forced him to take his car and .. oh my gosh .. it does the same thing as that Cadillac did .. he was a nervous wreck. In our case, someone waited to let us in, we go and the engine looses all is power with us right in front of this person .. all the traffic is left and we are pounding the dash for this thing to please give us the power back.

      I said to him turn that stuff off for good, and he said the car is a death trap without it as it will spin out without it.

      Whew .. I love the RWD like everyone, but they are horrid in any sort of winter weather. I say scrap the darn traction controls and bring back the posi-traction. You have to be aware of he odd things posi-traction can do on ice, but once you know that it give much better control.
      • 4 Years Ago
      noooooooooooooo FWD, does not spell luxury, it spells cheap and cost cutting. if they really want to be the Japanese BMW, then they would know better and not do that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am surprised by the bash on the G20, yes it looks like a sentra, but it was a FWD with SUPERB handling, it shared the multilink front suspension with the R32 Skyline, and won the British Touring Car Championship in 1999 and 2000. Its was considered one of the best handling cars in the late 90s, the only problem was that the best version that comes with a high revving SR20VE was only offered in Japan.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I thought the G20 was a gussied up Sentra....

      Sighting the recent TSX and TL as examples of people who don't care about their cars aren't good examples... Acura has always hurt by not having a rear drive flag ship sedan, and the TL can be had with AWD anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Common misconception. The G20 was basically a badge-engineered Nissan Primera. Not too closely related to the Sentra even though they were somewhat similar in size.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think the G20 had more in common with the Stanza than the Sentra.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only thing the G20 shared with the Sentra was the SR20DE motor (which was only found in 2.0L Sentras and 200SXs). The platforms were completely different otherwise.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is there a benefit to Infiniti for switching to FWD? Does it save them money somehow? Otherwise, why even consider it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nissan always had made fun front wheel drive cars, I have had two of them. I hope they bring out a nice little sedan, would be a fun car. Having friends that had G20's I always thought they were great little cars that really run forever.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am sorry but no. Infiniti does not need a FWD car. That is why Nissan is FWD and Infiniti is RWD. This company needs to utilize their turbo technology again, as they did with the 300zx twin turbo, fix their vibration and harshness from the current 3.5L VQ and 3.7L VQ engines and need to reintroduce the original and smooth 3.0L VQ. Since the introduction of the G Sedan/Coupe, the M sedan and the FX all changed the game. Keep the game plan as it is and introduce a 1-series fighter and call it a day Infiniti.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think the drivetrain layout will matter to non-enthusiasts. However the pricing will,and the Maxima already touches Infiniti pricing. They would have to price this car below the G37 and that would cut directly into the Maxima's territory.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That would cut into the upper end of ALTIMA's territory, for that matter.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For most of the luxury buyers that I've talked to, Infiniti has not built up and earned the same level of prestige as Lexus, the other Japanese luxury brand. Looking to Acura (the relative failure of the 3 brands) for a business model can only hurt them; they need to start coming out with more RWD models that have interiors that LOOK competitive (they are now) in the eyes of Lexus buyers and such before they can take the bold move of introducing a FWD vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is what got Infiniti in the trouble they where in back in the 90's, so long for swearing they will never take their eyes of BMW again
      • 4 Years Ago
      I had the Infiniti pictured above. At the time, I thought it was a fun little car. Pleather seats, moonroof, etc. But I was 22 years old and this was back in 1994. Obviously the world has moved on. If it were produced properly and priced somewhere near $25,000 I wouldn't see a problem with it. Price it somewhere north of $30,000 and I would say WTF? It just wouldn't make sense. Loaded, it shouldn't be any more than $32,000. But again, with all these affordable rear wheel drive coupes coming to market (and rumors of Nissan returning with the 200SX/Silvia) I'm not sure this is somewhere they need to go.
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