The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 June 2006

After 53 miles

Test drives can tell you some things, but not everything, so some of yesterday evening was devoted to putting Gwendolyn through her paces.

Objectively, this car isn't screamingly fast — sub-nine-second 0-to-60 runs aren't all that remarkable — but when you're used to the eleven-second range at best, somewhere in the middle eights seems amazing. I will have to relearn my usual tip-into-the-throttle technique. Also, with this many ponies, there's a theoretical risk of torque steer, though I was unable to produce more than a perfunctory tug at the wheel.

Nissan was maligned for sticking a beam axle at the back of this thing instead of a proper independent rear suspension, but it took some seriously bumpy curves to make it lose its composure, and then only for the slightest of moments. Still, the 626, with irs, is slightly better, though the suspension tuning (after '99, anyway) is way stiffer than Infiniti's and a lot of bumps that would get your attention in a 626 are smothered in an I30.

In terms of transient response, they seem about equal, though the tires are at least as much a factor as the cars themselves: Gwendolyn runs on BFGoodrich Touring T/As; Sandy wore Dunlop SP A2 Sport Pluses. I am thinking of switching to the Dunlops when the BFGs wear out, which should take a while since they still have rather a lot of tread left. Gwen takes a 215/55R16, which unfortunately costs about 20 percent more than Sandy's 205/60R15.

This was my first experience with Nissan's RE4F04B transmission. It's slicker, and reputedly less unreliable, than any automatic Mazda put in a 626, but its wisdom is just as questionable; certain combinations of throttle position and engine speed will give it a brief case of WTF? The 626, by general agreement, was far happier with a stick anyway; Infiniti didn't offer one for this model year.

Potential difficulties: the aforementioned Right Now throttle response; tach and speedo are reversed compared to the 626; I still think Bose audio is overrated; speedo reads to an implausible 160 mph. (Top speed is around 130, which is all you'd want to do on H-rated tires anyway; I have yet to hit 80.)

Still, this is not a heck of a lot to complain about, and the car is almost deathly quiet inside; I panicked for a moment after filling the tank, thinking it had failed to start. It hadn't. This will never happen in a 626.

Posted at 8:06 AM to Driver's Seat