All the Fun You Need
Steve Schaefer, Fri, 20 Jun 2008 08:00:00 PDT
Infiniti has found its mojo in the 21st century, sending to market stylish, desirable cars. The G35 coupe I first tested in 2003 was remarkable in the way it combined the utility of a midsized car with the sensation of a close-coupled coupe for two. It was really a nicer, bigger version of Nissan's 350Z -- Dockers to the Z's Levi's 501s.
I thought the 2003 G35 Coupe was great with its 280 horsepower engine. The 2008 G37, its successor, has pushed that up to a remarkable 330 hp, with 270 lb.-ft. of torque to go with it. And my Vibrant Red test car had a six-speed manual transmission, too. Watch out, BMW!
The 3.7-liter V6 engine, introduced in the 2007 G35 sedan, is a highly revised version of Nissan's V6, a longtime winner of Ward's Auto World's Ten Best Engines award. For the new coupe, about 35 percent of the parts were redone. Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) technology improves performance and response. Many other factors in the engine's construction, from a taller cylinder block to an electronic "drive by wire" throttle, make for one hearty engine. The specially tuned dual exhaust system works more efficiently and delivers the sporty roar one expects from 330 horses under the hood.
Fuel mileage is actually slightly improved, although with the government-mandated changes to the 2008 fuel mileage assessment process, the numbers look a little lower. My tester got EPA numbers of 17 City, 26 Highway; I collected 18.5 mpg during my week with the car. That's not bad, considering its extreme potency.
The EPA rates the car a 7 for Air Pollution and a 6 for Greenhouse Gases, a little better than average for a car that's a lot more fun than average.
In Vibrant Red, my G37 was the most interesting car in the parking lot. The car is longer, lower, and wider than the G35 coupe it replaces. Doesn't that sound like a 1960's Pontiac commercial?
But this car has a tautness and mass unknown in the days before computer design. The muscular proportions, boldly exuberant curves, sparkling lights and audacious style will win you over. The raised ridges along the hood, which you can see from the driver's seat, are stimulating to the emotions. The wide swath of rear bumper comes from stylists willing to paint in bold, simple stokes. Twin chrome pipes below it suggest high performance.
Of course the lights at both front and rear contain the jewelry expected on today's cars. The L-shaped headlamps are high-intensity discharge (HID) bi-xenon (bright and focused). The taillights use light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which illuminate more quickly and last pretty much forever.
Bold wheels are part of most cars today, even some pretty modest ones, and the G37 doesn't disappoint. Although 18-inchers are standard, my tester flaunted ten-spoke 19s!
The G37's interior coordinates well with the impressive body. Thoroughly modern and sweeping around the front passengers in waves, the cockpit feels like a great place to sit and go fast. My biggest lasting impression, though, is of the unusual aluminum-alloy trim, which runs over the dash, doors, and console. Modeled after Japanese Washi paper, it adds depth and interest and looks wonderfully upscale. A nice, fat stitched-leather steering wheel is welcome. There's more leather on the seats on upper-level models, including my tester.
The car comes in three models: the standard G37 Coupe, Journey, and Sport 6MT. Every model features an intelligent key that you can leave in your pocket, automatic climate control, and the usual round of electrically operated things, windows, locks, mirrors. The Advanced Air Bag System has dual-stage front airbags that go off differently depending the size of who's sitting in the seats, and plenty more airbags for extra protection. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard, too.
The Journey and Sport 6MT add extra features, such as unique body styling with a forceful front fascia, side sills, and those previously mentioned 19-inch alloy wheels. The two upper models also have an upgraded braking system. Inside, you get special 14-way sport seats, and you can order genuine magnesium paddle shifters for the optional automatic transmission, too.
Want more? The Premium Package adds a power moonroof, a sensational 11-speaker "Infiniti Studio on Wheels" sound system, and numerous other pleasures.
My Sport 6MT model, with the Premium Package and shipping, came to $39,465. The base G37 Coupe starts at $35,215.
This is a standout design that you'll love approaching as you head to work in the morning or finish off a night on the town. Or, you may decide to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles on an impulse. It's that kind of car.