A few weeks ago, I posted an article entitled “Cars That Look Good But Aren’t.” I thought this was a particularly brilliant piece of writing, primarily because virtually every word was spelled correctly. After finishing it, I patted myself on the back and said “Good job, Doug.” Then I got in my Nissan Cube and shielded my face from passersby.
But it wasn’t long before the hate mail started coming in.
The first hate mail came from my mother, as per usual, who wrote: “Does this mean you still don’t have a real job? Also, why are you making fun of the Infiniti G20?” Mom wasn’t alone in her criticism. Minutes later, responses started pouring in from the Best and Brightest, who – once known for their love of the Panther platform – have apparently felt the effects of rising gas prices and decided to instead stand behind the similarly outdated Infiniti G20.
The first responses were fairly mild: “I get the point you’re making on the G20, but let’s keep in mind the SR20DE engine from the SE-R … I would perhaps agree if you’re only talking about the second-generation G20,” wrote Sammy B. I defended myself, only to be dismissed by what I assume must be every single G20 owner in history. This is a sampling of some of G20 love from commenters:
– “Count me among those who disagree that the P10 G20 should be on this list. I worked for the local Infiniti dealership from 1991-93 when these were new. I loved everything about them.” -davew833
– “It was the best handling 4-door back then and the engine and shifter are super sweet. Plus has a ton of room inside for its small size.” -walker42
– “I’d have to disagree on the G20. For it’s time the G20 was at the top of its class in handling and performance.” -Scoutdude
And that’s just the commenters. Things soon got worse. Not long after the post went up, I started getting threatening Facebook messages. A user named “Infiniti G20” invited me to connect on LinkedIn with a message that said only: “Soon.” And for six nights in a row, I answered my ringing cell phone around 3am only to hear the revving of an underpowered four-cylinder on the other end.
OK, some of that didn’t happen. But I was surprised at the Infiniti G20’s support network, which was roughly the same size as the coalition that defended Kuwait in the Gulf War. This got me thinking: if you people like the G20 so much, why don’t you buy the current model?
I am talking, of course, about the Acura ILX, which is the first-generation Infiniti G20, only 20 years later. I know what you’re thinking: How dare DeMuro desecrate the memory of the holy Infiniti G20 by comparing it with some crappy Acura! But I’ve actually prepared some intelligent thoughts on the topic, which is rare, so please bear with me.
Let’s start with platform. The Infiniti G20 was based on the Nissan Sentra of its day, which was generally agreed to be a fairly modest compact car with a reasonably well-respected performance version. Guess what? The ILX is based on the Honda Civic, which is also a fairly modest compact car with a well-respected performance version.
How about engines? The G20 used a 140-horsepower four-cylinder borrowed from the Sentra SE-R, which is the aforementioned well-respected performance version. That meant it reached 60 in around nine seconds, or – in the minds of TTAC commenters replying to the “Cars That Look Good But Aren’t” post – slightly quicker than an Ariel Atom.
Well, it turns out the ILX also borrows its four-cylinder from the well-respected performance version, which – in this case – is the Honda Civic Si. Yes, there’s a base-level ILX with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter engine from the standard Civic. But there’s also an ILX with the very same 201-horsepower four-cylinder as the Civic Si. You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Of course, it’s also important to compare pricing. Back in 1991, the G20 started at $17,500, which – adjusted for inflation – comes to $29,055, according to a rather dodgy inflation calculator I discovered using Google. And how does the ILX compare? It’s so spot-on that you have to wonder if Acura found the very same inflation calculator: the ILX with the Civic Si engine starts at exactly $29,200.
Clearly, I have conclusively proven that Acura successfully replicated the vaunted G20 in its ILX. But here’s the problem: no one is buying the ILX. Of course, that isn’t strictly true. My neighbor has an MDX, and whenever it goes in for service, she gets an ILX as a service loaner. Technically, that means it’s “sold.”
But actual humans aren’t lining up out the door to buy the ILX, despite its brilliant G20 heritage. So, G20 defenders, explain it: why is this? Really: I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Just as long as they’re in the form of a TTAC comment, and not a 3am wake-up call.
Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.