by Tamir Orbach
Pros and Cons
- Even better acceleration than the ’07 G35
- Handles and feels like a true sports car and easily up to par with competing BMW sports coupes and sedans
- Very comfortable sports seats
- Intuitive controls
- Lots of standard features and great options
- Killer sound system
- Fit and finish much improved over ’07 coupe, but not yet up to par with BMW (very close though) and definitely not up to par with Audi (whose interiors I consider to be the best in the business)
- Rear seat is useful only for sado-masochistic adults, small children, or Dobby the house elf, with difficult ingress and egress from rear seat
- Trunk size is fairly small even for a sports coupe
- Auto box needs a 6th gear for highway driving
As a long time car nut and a fan of rear wheel drive and all wheel drive German sports sedans and coupes, I recently defected from the BMW brand (and more specifically from an ’06 BMW 330i) and purchased a 2007 Infiniti G35x after primarily driving BMW’s or Audi’s for the last 8 years.
Some of the reasons behind my move away from BMW include becoming less and less appreciative of their interior design and ergonomic features, an unsatisfactory experience with their service departments, and the potentially high cost of maintenance after the warranty expires. I love the look of the BMW’s 3 series coupe, but the rest of the line-up with the now infamous Bangle-butts, is not attractive to my eyes.
Given all of these factors, I decided to look at the Japanese alternatives to the BMW 3 series. I like the fact that the Japanese car manufacturers have reached a point where their luxury sports sedans and coupes can compete favorably with the best that Munich, Ingolstadt and Stuttgart have to offer – and in most respects often do so with better reliability and value.
The 306 horsepower G35, predecessor to the G37, is a fantastic vehicle that is blazingly quick, handles very well and is a very sporty luxury sedan. But when Infiniti recently announced the new G37 coupe with an all-new 3.7-liter V6 engine with Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) intake camshafts that help the engine deliver 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, I had to take this beast out for a test drive to see what I was missing.
The G37s Journey model that I drove had the standard 5-speed automatic with the paddle shifters, Premium package (moonroof, Bose premium audio system, iPod connection, HomeLink and Bluetooth), and the Navigation package (navigation, audio system with hard-drive access, rearview camera). More options are available such as the Technology package (intelligent cruise control, adaptive headlights), 4-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS) and the 6-speed manual transmission (6MT). Typically I prefer manual/stick shift cars. But traffic in the DC area has finally convinced me that an automatic transmission is the more prudent choice. It may seem that I settled for something mundane, but having paddle shifters and an auto box that shifts quickly and rev matches on down shifts is the way to go (unless you can get a dual clutch system like VW’s DSG).
One thing I noticed the minute I pressed the brake and pushed the “start” button (the key was in my pocket the entire drive since it just has to be somewhere within the car) was that the engine note seemed a little quieter than that of my G35x. Pulling out of the dealership’s lot, I immediately felt the tighter suspension settings in this car as I drove over a few bumps in the road. The bumps were not jarring though, and the car felt very solid and had a good combination of handling and ride.
The steering initially felt light, but very quickly progressed to a tight and responsive steering that gives fantastic feedback from the road without passing unnecessary vibrations. Once I got past 30 miles per hour, I felt like the car was an extension of my body and immediately felt comfortable and completely in control of the G37s. I personally prefer the more linear nature of BMW’s (non active-steer) steering, but this is really only an issue when I’m driving at less than 30 MPH.
As soon as I hit the curves in a few country roads in the area, I started punching the accelerator and accelerating into corners to get a sense for the stability and handling of this car. It felt completely unflappable and made me feel like a race car driver. The paddle shifting auto box seems to shift in milliseconds, and driving in DS/sports mode where the box shifts more aggressively but still shifts for the driver, I felt like it was reading my mind. It even gradually geared down to 2nd as I approached a stop light leveraging the engine’s braking ability. This is a very easy car to drive quickly and have fun with on winding roads. At the same time it never punishes you on bumpy roads or undulations in the road and would make an excellent daily driver and a good track car.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to do any emergency braking, the brakes felt very competent and rapidly brought the car to a halt when needed.
Comparing the G37s to my ’07 G35x, the G37s definitely feels somewhat sportier, primarily because of the sports suspension settings. The smaller, but thicker steering wheel, is a nice touch and the body hugging sports seats, with adjustable sides (both lower and upper), is a great feature too. While it did feel a tiny bit quicker in acceleration, the G37 did not feel significantly quicker than the G35. This is probably due to its additional 200 pounds of weight that make up for the 30hp difference. The engine feels more refined in the G37 (probably because of the VVEL), and a lot less thrashy than the engine in the G35 once you get above 4500 RPM. Neither of these cars feels slow with 0-60 MPH times in the low to mid 5-second mark – performance that until a few years ago was reserved for sportier cars like Porsches and M3’s.
The G37 feels very solid and has a good if not a perfect build quality feel to it. The “thunk” of the doors is not bad, but definitely feels a little flimsier than that of a BMW 3 series door. The trunk lid feels very light which takes a little bit away from the quality feel. The fuel cap seems to be from the Nissan parts bin and feels more appropriate for a Nissan Sentra than any Infiniti. However, outside of those few issues, this car feels and looks great, and once you’re on the road, the G37 feels very well buttoned down and rattle free.
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