Long before there were bros revving their G37s, there was the Infiniti G20, the first of Nissan’s entry-level cars for their luxury marque. Though it was largely forgotten as a rebadged P10 Nissan Primera, mostly because of its un-luxury-like front-wheel-drive layout, this was no Lexus ES. This was an actual performance car with advanced technology under the skin.
Back when it came out in 1991, Motorweek reviewed it like any other car, which is fair. However, it mostly glossed over the main thing that made the car special, its advanced multi-link front suspension, a first for a front-wheel-drive car. As a result, the car was among the best-handling front-wheel-drive sedans of the era, greatly reducing the understeer and improving sportiness while maintaining a comfortably smooth ride.
The review also spends a lot of time pining for a V6, and laments the fact that the 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder is shared with “the top Nissan Sentra model.” That model was the Sentra SE-R, and the motor was a naturally aspirated SR20DE. It was developed as a serious performance car, and was campaigned in touring car races in Japan and Europe.
The all-aluminum four returned a respectable 24 city, 32 highway mpg too, while capable of 0-60 sprints in 8.2 seconds. It started at $17,500, and rang in at $20,350 loaded, which meant it cost only $1,000 more than an Accord SE.
Because of the Infiniti name, though, Americans were eager to question its legitimacy as a luxury car. While it sported Infiniti’s famously high-quality paint and a well-made interior, the front-drive layout and engine — even though it is arguably one of Japan’s greatest fours — failed to flatter those who bought based on badge.