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The pre-G35 era of Infiniti vehicles were a tough sell but the brand bounced back with its rear-wheel-drive sport sedan in 2002. Can the next generation of Infiniti sports sedan repeat its past glory?
THE FORGOTTEN G-SEDAN
Prior to the G35, Infiniti had a luxury sedan called the G20. It hardly raised pulses with its front-wheel drive lay out and non-descript looks. Making around 140-hp during its 12-year run, the G20 was a luxury car first, with a focus on equipment. In 1990 things like power windows, power locks, power mirrors, four-wheel disc brakes and a brand name audio system were still considered premium options, yet the G20 had them all as standard.
Extra add-ons including heated mirrors and leather trim were additional extras, but there was hardly any reason to jump ahead to the sport, or touring models. However, those looking for a bit more of a sporting personality would love the limited-slip differential which the non-base trim packages get.
“The G20 was a front-wheel drive, badge-engineered Nissan Primera,” states Dave Sullivan, product analyst at AutoPacific. “Nothing to get excited about.”
NISSAN FLEXING ITS SPORTS MUSCLE
It was 2002 when Infiniti did a 180 on its sport-sedan strategy. The next generation G moved the drive wheels to the back and stuffed two-extra cylinders in the engine bay. And while we know it as the G35, that car went by a far more impressive name internationally: Skyline. Nissan Skylines have a reputation for being the ultimate in Nissan’s product line, featuring impressive performance and technology. For the luxurious Infiniti brand, there was no better car to start with.
“Nissan has had a strong history of performance vehicles and this was Nissan’s way of developing Infiniti’s brand,” says Sullivan.
The effect was immediate. “Nissan dropped some serious power into a RWD vehicle and the G finally got some respect and sales traction,” he says.
Using a platform and engine that was shared with Nissan 350Z coupe, the V6 made 261 hp and 258 lb-ft in the G35 sedan, and 282 hp and 269 lb-ft in the coupe, which was available with either a six-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive models were only available with an automatic. The car immediately gained traction with enthusiasts and car fans.
Read the complete story on the history of the Infiniti Q50 at AutoGuide.com