Posts Tagged ‘4’

Test Drive: 1996 Infiniti G20 (P10)

On February 18, 2012, I test drove a 1996 Infiniti G20 at The Import Connection in Yucaipa, California. The car has a black exterior with a tan cloth interior. It has over 219,000 miles with an asking price of $2,998. The Infiniti G20 has a SR20DE engine; a 2.0 liter DOHC inline 4 that produces 140 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm. The transmission is a 5 speed manual with front wheel drive. The P10 chassis Infiniti G20 is known as the Nissan Primera in Japan and other parts of the world. Infiniti first released the G20 as a 1991 model just one year after the birth of the brand and its base price was close to $21,500. In 1990, Infiniti only had the M30 coupe and Q45 sedan. Most G20s I have seen had 4 speed automatics and leather seats. This model that I drove didn’t have either one. When the car was first released, Nissan bragged in their advertisements that it was the first car to have a multi-link front suspension with front wheel drive combined calling it “One of the best handling cars in the world.” In 1994, the G20 underwent some minor changes such as dual front airbags, a new grille, color-matching bumper and side moldings, clearer taillights, and chrome exterior door handles. Also introduced for the 1994 model year was the G20t for “Touring Package.” The only thing noticeable between a standard G20 and G20t is the Touring Edition has a rear spoiler. Production of the P10 G20 ended in 1996 and in 1999, the P11 chassis G20 was released. Globally, it was still known as the Nissan Primera. Production of the P11 G20 ended in 2002 because of the release of the Infiniti G35 (Skyline V35 in Japan). The Infiniti G20s are rare cars and many of the older ones aren’t worth a lot of money. I have seen many of them priced under $1,500 on the internet that are in good condition and I can likely find one that needs work for under $1,000.
I was originally going to look at a 1995 Infiniti G20 that day, but I stumbled across this listing on autotrader.com and I thought this would be a better car to drive. The ad said it was a G20t, but it wasn’t because the car had cloth seats and no rear spoiler. It was a new listing and it didn’t say what the mileage was, so I called The Import Connection to find out. After talking to the dealer by phone I drove to the lot to have a look. The G20 was sitting at the front of the dealer’s driveway. I’ve been to The Import Connection a few months before to test drive a 1996 Lexus LS400 and the salespeople were friendly and not pushy. If they are good with making fair deals then I would highly recommend them. When I arrived they gladly gave me the key and scanned my driver’s license. The car was in fair condition with some noticeable scrapes on the sides and on top of the front bumper. There were some dents on the body too, but this car has over 200,000 miles on it so it’s to be expected. The interior was slightly dirty and the upholstery did have some stains. The fabric behind the seat pouch was badly torn to the point where you can see some wood inside the front seats. When I got in the car I thought I found the hood release lever, but I was wrong. It was a plastic piece I pulled off and behind it were some wires. The lever was located under that piece. The engine was a 16 valve four cylinder and as with most engine compartments it was filthy. I then looked in the trunk where I found the driver’s floor mat. It was 14.2 cubic feet in size which is pretty big for a car its size. After having a complete look around the car I put the key in the ignition and set it to accessories. A high pitched twinkle chime came on for the seat belts. All of the windows worked, but I couldn’t roll the front passenger window up from the driver’s switch, so I had to reach over to roll it up. It had an aftermarket radio but it had no faceplate so I couldn’t use it. The A/C worked, but it wouldn’t work in the first three settings so if I needed it I’d have no choice but to use it in the fourth setting (full blast). The A/C system might need recharging, but I doubt it’s worth the cost to fix it completely. When I started the car I thought it wasn’t going to start, but it just took a few seconds for it to start. Now let’s get to the test drive.
It didn’t take too much time to get used to the clutch. At first I had to give the car extra gas and then I knew how to drive it. I turned right onto Outer Highway 10 and then made another right just down the road into a residential neighborhood. The car felt quick for a four cylinder and I was able to hit 40 mph in 2nd gear. The car had very quick braking power and sharp handling. It definitely felt like a compact sports car. I have once driven a 2009 Toyota Yaris with a five speed and it wasn’t as fun to drive compared to this. The needle for the gas gauge was at pointing at the “E”, but no low fuel light came on and I wasn’t too worried because of the car’s small motor. For having such high mileage the SR20DE was very powerful. When I drove back towards the main road I stopped at a three-way intersection and peeled back onto Outer Highway 10. I then continued to drive on some curvy roads through some hills closer to Yucaipa Blvd. The G20 is smaller than my Acura RL so the roads were easier to handle. It’s considered to be a compact car, but I’d say it’s between compact and mid-sized. When I made a right turn back on a city street I peeled out again. Sometimes it seemed like the engine wanted to work at higher rpms or it could be the way I’m driving it. Either way I loved driving this car. After the right turn I drove back to the dealership.
When I returned to the lot I told one salesman that I couldn’t take the key out of the ignition. He showed me a button near where the key went that had to be pushed in order to get the key out. I’ve never seen something like that before. I asked him if they had the faceplate for the radio and he said it should be in the office. The reason would be because some kids would test drive cars and steal their radios’ face plates. However I ended up finding it in the glove box. Also in there I found a business card from Cerritos Infiniti, and I assumed that was where the car was sold when it was brand new. There was weather stripping along the doorway on the front passenger side that was dangling down, but some super glue could easily fix that. I went inside to talk to another salesman and I asked about the price. I told him that the suggested retail value on Kelley Blue Book was around $2,400. He said that they price their vehicles based on what they paid for them at the auctions. $2,998 was too much for this car but I didn’t say anything to him. He also said that it would be about $3,300 total out the door. The car isn’t worth anywhere near that, and if I was buying it I would not want to pay anymore than $2,000 for it. Even at that price I would lose a lot of money out of the G20 when I sell it in the future. If this car was for sale through a private party it would only be worth $1,000 or less. These cars do not have high resale values. Other than the high asking price I would recommend this particular car to someone and I would definitely buy it for myself.
Overall the Infiniti G20 is not really a luxury car, but it does have the feel of a sports car. It’s not really a car that I would want to invest in when it comes to customizing. I would also get more for my money if I bought one through a private seller instead of a dealer. If you want an affordable fun car that has fairly nice styling then this would be a good car for you.
Photos taken by The Import Connection

 

Test Drive: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL (W140)

On January 13, 2012, I test drove a 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL at Master Car Sales in Pomona, California. The car has a black and grey two tone exterior with a black leather interior. The asking price is $3,900 and the car has 217,000 miles. Under the hood of this 500SEL is a 5.0 liter V8 engine (codenamed M119) that produces 315 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 347 lb-ft of torque @ 3900 rpm. The transmission is a four speed automatic, which is codenamed 4G-Tronic, and has standard rear wheel drive. The W140 chassis S-Classes are some of my all time favorite cars. I have always been a big fan of them. The W140s debuted in 1991 in the European market replacing the W126 S-Classes. The W140s came to the North American market for the 1992 model year. They came with many different engine options in all parts of the world, from small Inline 6 diesels to 6.0 liter V12s. From 1991 to 1993, the nameplates for the W140s started with the engine displacement numbers (e.g. 300SE, 400SE, 500SEL, and 600SEL), and from 1994 to 1999, the nameplates started with S for S-Class and then were followed by the engine displacement numbers (e.g. S320, S420, S500, and S600). The W140 is also known to be the car that Princess Diana was killed in, back in 1997. Although she was killed in a serious crash, W140s have been known to be safe and solid vehicles. They can just be expensive to keep maintained. In 1999, the W140 was retired by Mercedes and was replaced by the W220 S-Class. I am hoping to eventually come across a W140 S600 or 600SEL to test drive. Both have 6.0 liter 12 cylinder engines. They are harder to find and more expensive to buy. Now, let’s get back to the test drive.
I called the dealer before I went to go look at the car to make sure it was still on the lot. It wasn’t in a nice part of town, but I didn’t let that bother me. The car was parked by the fence, and the salesperson was sitting down near a barbeque eating lunch when I walked onto the lot. I never got what his name was. I told him that I called earlier asking if the car was on the lot. He went to go grab the key and while doing so I walked around the car for any damage. As you can see in the pictures, the wheels on the car are from a newer S-class. They were from a W221 chassis S550. In the car’s advertisement online, it said that it has new tires. It actually needs new tires, as these were about to go bald. On the driver’s side fender there were some cracks in the paint, as well as the left quarter panel and trunk lid. The back bumper had some scrapes from previous cargo going in and out of the trunk. The front bumper did have some scrapes from hitting other objects, and there was some sun bake on the passenger fender. The salesman told me that the hood was repainted. If it was, the person who did it didn’t do a professional job on it. The interior was in good shape for its age; however, the leather felt dry. When I opened all of the doors, they felt heavy and solid. I didn’t think anything bad of them. I assumed that they were to make the vehicle safer in side impact collisions. The salesman came back with the key, and then I started the car. With older Mercedes vehicles, they have the annoying seat belt buzzer that that lasts for about five seconds. That’s my least favorite thing about these cars. For the next two minutes, I tested the electrical components. Everything such as the windows, locks, mirrors, and radio worked excellent; even the electronic rear window shade. The air conditioning didn’t blow out cold air like it should have. It may need to be recharged or repaired. The radio and climate control buttons took some time to figure out as well. The glass for the side windows were dual pane. I like to call them bullet proof windows because of the thickness. The main purpose is to keep the interior noise quiet while on the road. I asked the salesman if I can test drive it. He got into the driver’s seat and moved the car out onto the street.
While he was moving it, I heard some banging noises coming from the back of the Mercedes. I assumed that he forgot to release the parking brake. The salesman told me that the rear shocks needed to be replaced. He got in the passenger seat; I got behind the wheel, and turned right onto Mission blvd. The car shook while accelerating and the shocks continued to make the banging noises. As I got to 40 miles per hour, the shaking and rattling stopped. As I slowed down to my first stoplight, the rattling and shaking came back. The salesman said that the reason why the car was shacking could be because of a disconnected injector wire harness from the engine compartment. The car didn’t seem as fast as I expected it to be. I have driven a BMW 740il that was much faster with a smaller V8. The salesman asked me if I wanted to drive it on the freeway. I said yes, so we drove towards the 60 West freeway. Before we got on the on ramp, the salesman told me to stop the car completely because he wasn’t quite comfortable with it. I had to stop with traffic behind me, which was very inconvenient. Shouldn’t he know if the car is freeway safe before the test drive? I put the hazards on, stopped the car for a few seconds and let the traffic behind me go around. The salesman said it was fine so I proceeded onto the freeway. I was still disappointed with the engine’s acceleration. It should have felt faster than the Mercedes E420 that I have previously driven about three weeks prior. I don’t even remember being able to hit 60 miles per hour while we were on the freeway. I only drove for about a mile in the slow lane before getting off the freeway. The salesman was telling me that the car needs work before selling it and that he will look into it. He assumed that when the engine compartment was washed it could have done something to the wiring harness. I don’t know how exactly the engine bay was washed, but if that’s the cause then something must have been done wrong. The salesman kept on telling me that the car needs to be fixed because he didn’t want to sell junk. If it needed more money in repairs, he would send it back to the auction. Still, I didn’t think he was the most trust-worthy salesperson I’ve encountered. After getting off the freeway, I drove back to the dealer.
At the dealer, the salesman asked me what the car’s advertised price was. I told him it was $3,900. He gave me a deal that if I wanted the car, I could buy it for a total of $3,800. That included all taxes and fees paid for. I thought it was a fair deal, but I think it would be better for a mechanic to buy it and fix it himself. The Kelley Blue Book’s Suggested Retail value in excellent condition is $5,738. For fair condition through private party, it’s worth $3,263. If I knew how to work on cars, I would have bought it and fixed it up myself. Overall, this Mercedes-Benz 500SEL needs work. It would be a great luxury car for a low price if you don’t mind the paint blemishes, slow performance, and noisy shocks. The W140s are some of the best Mercedes-Benz vehicles built, and that’s a fact! Just give it proper maintenance, and in the future, it could be a timeless classic.
Photos taken by Master Car Sales.