SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On Scottsdale Boulevard in the posh Phoenix suburb, warm desert sunshine floods the leather-lined 2+2 cockpit of Infiniti's stunning GT-style hardtop sports coupe which converts to a daring drop-top convertible with the flick of a switch.
Conversion from hardtop coupe to wide-open cabriolet convertible consumes only 30 seconds, as the G-car driver taps a console-mounted toggle one time and the car then does all of the work.
Side windows drop down into doors as a latch on the windshield header automatically releases the forward edge of a three-piece steel roof and an electro-hydraulic mechanism motivates the clamshell top to pleat and tuck into the trunk beneath a steel tonneau lid.
Now feast on what these mechanical gyrations reveal: A daring design for a sleek but edgy open-top sports coupe with luxurious appointments in the cockpit and serious mechanical hardware concealed behind all of those sensuous sheetmetal bulges.
Infiniti delivers it as the 2011 G37 Convertible in three grades: G37 Convertible, G37 Convertible Limited Edition, G37 Convertible Sport 6MT.
Essential hardware including powertrain and suspension come off the G37 Coupe, although the cabriolet variation gains unique body panels rearward of the windshield A-pillar along with the body width stretched by an inch, a wider rear wheel track and the rear suspension modified.
It's amazing what the removal of a roofline will do to influence the shape of the package -- the G-car as racy convertible appears to be speeding even when parked.
Adding to that expression of speed is the long prow with a wave-style aluminum hood, L-shaped compound front light clusters with bi-functional xenon headlamps and integrated foglamps, front fascia with a double-arch grille, fenders bulging to cover big rubber rollers, a windshield cocked at an extreme angle and the body's horizontal belt line interrupted only by a linear door handle and the muscular bump of the rump.
The G37 rides on a stiff rear-wheel-drive (RWD) platform -- called FM, for Front Midship, which describes the motor's position on the chassis.
On the platform the front wheels set way forward and the engine is positioned so that its center of gravity falls behind the front axles. This placement results in a weight distribution biased slightly in favor of front wheels.
Yet the front wheels are slightly heavier by design of the suspension geometry to pre-load them with more weight when the car turns into a curve. Add acceleration coming out of that curve and the result translates into optimum weight balance which enables the aggressive driver to carve one corner after another in the G37 with keen confidence.
The suspension is totally independent with lightweight aluminum components. Up front is a double wishbone design and the back is a multi-link arrangement with stabilizer bars fore and aft.
G37 Convertible standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels roll with Dunlop SP Sport MAXX A1-A all-season tires -- 225/50R18 in front and 245/45R18 in back.
G37 Convertible Sport 6MT scores special 10-spoke 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels capped by Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high performance tires -- 225/45R19 up front and 245/40R19 at the rear.
Steering, through a quick-to-respond rack and pinion mechanism, feels firm despite the assist from a vehicle-speed-sensitive power boost.
A vented disc brake stands at every wheel and all tie by computerized links to the anti-lock brake system (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Further, all G-cars carry a traction control system (TCS) and Infiniti's vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device which automatically checks lateral skidding on slippery pavement.
Passive safety systems aboard G37 include dual-stage supplemental front air bags, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and door-mounted curtain-style side-impact air bags, front seat active head restraints, rear seat fixed head restraints plus rear pop-up roll bars.
Motivation for G37 stems from Nissan's VQ-series dual-cam V6 engine keyed to an electronically controlled drive-by-wire throttle. The plant uses ladder-frame construction for rigidity with molybdenum-coated pistons, symmetric twin air intake system and a VVEL (variable valve event and lift) valve controller.
These modifications produce huge muscle, of course, as the VQ37VHR V6 spits out 325 hp at 7000 rpm with torque rising to 267 lb-ft at 5200 rpm.
G37's VQ V6 supports two transmissions.
First choice is a high-tech seven-speed electronic automatic with manual mode, drive sport mode, downshift rev matching and adaptive shift control for quick driver-controlled shifting via the console-posted shift lever or optional solid magnesium paddle shifters.
The automatic transmission goes into the G37 Convertible and G37 Convertible Limited Edition.
Alternate shifter choice is a lightweight close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with the stubby stick planted on the center console.
The manual transmission applies exclusively to the G37 Convertible Sport 6MT.
G37's cabin, with form-fitting seats and lots of electronic gizmos, is an artful design trimming in hand-stitched leather and aluminum accents textured like fine Japanese silk.
Entry-grade G37 Convertible provides standard features like leather upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way power controls for front seats, power controls for windows and door locks and mirrors, adaptive dual-zone climate control system, Infiniti Intelligent Key with push-button ignition, cruise control, a tail camera and rearview monitor, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with AM/FM/6xCD/RDS/MP3/WMA/USB.
G37 Convertible Limited Edition wears a Midnight Black grille with special front fascia and side sills, Monaco red leather upholstery and maple wood trim, climate-controlled front seats with heating and cooling functions, magnesium paddle shifters, power tilting/telescoping steering wheel, aluminum pedals and footrest, rear sonar system, Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System and the Bose Open-Air Sound System which adapts audio levels to car speed and noise.
G37 Convertible Sport 6MT scores sport brakes (aluminum four-piston front calipers with 14.0-inch ventilated discs plus two-piston rear calipers with 13.8-inch ventilated discs), a sport-tuned steering gear (14.7:1), unique sport front fascia and aluminum pedals.
Infiniti starts the MSRP slate for the 2011 G37 Convertible at $45,750.