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1997 INFINITI I30 Overview
Introduced in May 1995, the I30, based on the Nissan Maxima, was developed to fill a gap in INFINITI's line in the high-volume and growing entry level segment of the luxury car market. The front-drive luxury sedan became the fourth car offered by Nissan Motor Corp.'s luxury division, which began selling cars in 1990. The I30 was planned to share features and styling cues from INFINITI's flagship Q45, but with a significantly lower base price of less than $30,000. Within INFINITI's current product line, the I30 is positioned between the entry level four-cylinder G20, which runs about $25,000, and the $36,000 rear-drive J30. The odds seemed stacked against the I30. Unsuc-cessful examples of badge engineering--taking the same basic car and selling it under two separate nameplates at different price points--are many. Additionally, the I30 competes in the crowded entry-luxury segment against some extremely strong contenders including the Lexus ES 300, the segment's volume leader, the BMW 3-Series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mazda Millenia and now the Cadillac Catera. Nevertheless, the I30 has succeeded, and spectacularly. In less than two years on the market, the I30 has come to represent half of all INFINITI sales. A test drive in the Leather Appointed version of the 1997 I30, virtually unchanged since its introduction, helped us understand why buyers are attracted to its performance, luxury and price.