Rare Rides: A 1996 Infiniti J30, Luxury Sedan With a Heart of 300ZX (Part I)
The other day while we were reviewing the daringly spectacular first generation Q45, commenter SSJeep requested coverage of Infiniti’s other rear-drive sedan from the period, the J30. I thought Rare Rides already covered Infiniti’s mid-size offering, but it turned out I was remembering an installment of Buy/Drive/Burn.
That means it’s time for J30.
At launch, Infiniti covered the luxury bases with its entry-level G20, the full-size Q45, and its middle offering known as M30. That Nissan Leopard-based coupe was on the small size for luxury customers, was rather basic inside, and was too expensive in convertible guise. After it proved a slow seller for model years 1990 to 1992, it was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by a new middle sibling from Infiniti: J30.
Available from 1993, the J30 was Infiniti’s attempt to take on the Giugiaro-designed Lexus GS with its own uniquely shaped sedan. Curved surfaces were plentiful on the J30, which wrapped around to a somewhat abrupt rear with a very low deck. Infiniti brass made sure to include a grille this time, and more importantly, showed the new J30 in its commercials. Said commercials included swanky jazz music and voiceover from the imposing Jonathan Pryce.
The J30 was considerably smaller in external dimensions than its competition, and like the Q45, Infiniti marketed its alternative nature as a selling point. Materials referred to the J30 as a personal luxury sedan, stopping just short of a four-door coupe moniker.
Infiniti turned to Italian furniture house Poltrona Frau once more for the J30’s interior, as they did with the Q45 a few years prior. Carried over from Q45 was the idea of a contrasting color scheme inside between seats and dash, but Infiniti learned from other visual mishaps with their flagship. The J30 had plenty of ruched leather, wood trim, and a nice clock (the clock even received its own ad). Seats were made at the Poltrona Frau factory in Italy, at the rate of just five per day.
It seemed all the necessary ingredients were coming together to make the J30 a successful sports luxury soufflé. Unfortunately, there was one big piece of eggshell in the mix which proved very off-putting to consumers. More on that in Part II.
Cimarron typeR on Dec 16, 2020
In early '00s a college friend inherited her mom's J30T, the sportier option. I really thought the interior was really nice but small. I drove it a few times and really enjoyed driving her around , I'd had only RWD experience w/ USDM muscle cars with stick axles. Its a shame whats happening to Infiniti. Here in KC, the only dealership had to merge with a Nissan affiliate . So much for the luxury dealership experience when Rogue/Sentra buyers share space.
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