INFINITI G37 REVIEW
Vehicle style: Premium sports coupe
Engine: 3.7 litre V6 | Transmission: 7-speed adaptive automatic
Fuel consumption (listed): Coupe: 10.5 l/100km; Convertible 11.4 l/100km
Fuel consumption (on test): Not recorded
Not often you get into a car that fits like a glove.
It's apparent the moment you nestle into the leather sports seats: wheel set right - instruments tracking to its tilt - gearshift paddles at the fingertips, pedals just right, and a clean, beautifully-crafted and business-like cockpit.
This is Infiniti's G37 Coupe - and it is something special.
A legion of Australian enthusuiasts will agree. Its Nissan-badged counterpart, the Skyline V36, has been keenly sought as a grey import.
And, in both Coupe and Convertible form, the G37 looks very, very tasty. Thank goodness for that.
The Coupe, the G37, is a real driver's car. It howls under the whip, there is a superb sporting elasticity to its suspension tune, it is tightly balanced when cornering, and it swallows tarmac with the spearing effortlessness of the true 'grand tourer'.
There are faster Coupes, and more powerful, but this one is a really satisfying drive.
The Convertible, its twin, looks great - its extra-wide rear track to accomodate the folding roof gives its haunches a muscular 'planted' look - but it lacks the snug, taut, driving feel of the Coupe.
The handling is fine (up to a point), but it's a city cruiser, not a performance drive like the Coupe.
Its weight-balance is different, it corners with less surety and, even with the top in place, the wheel shimmies in the hands.
But pore over either car, and the engineering and attention to detail is simply first-class.
From the 'ground-metal' look of the interior garnishes, to the machining of the alloy suspension components, the snug seal of the convertible roof, the panel fit and finish; everywhere you look this Infiniti comes up to the mark.
With a range starting at $75,900 for the 'entry' G37 GT Premium Coupe, Infiniti's entry to the upmarket end of the coupe and convertible market arrives with a not-insignificant price advantage over its most logical premium-brand competitors.
Keeping it relatively simple, you'll find two spec-levels for the G37 Coupe - the G37 GT Premium, and the higher-specced G37 S Premium. The convertible comes in one specification only, the full enchilada S Premium.
The sticker price takes a jump of nearly $10k to $83,500 for the S Premium Coupe, rising to $87,900 for the Convertible S Premium.
But from the interior look and feel you'd struggle to pick the model grades apart. It's a beautiful interior. The leather hide is thick but supple, and soft to the touch.
There is a real cockpit feel at the wheel with a wrap-around 'work-bench', well-bolstered sports seats, a high console and perfectly-positioned relationships between the wheel, pedals, gearshift and controls.
The instrument binnacle moves with the adjustment to the wheel (like the 'Zed'), so you can set it low (or high), and the dials remain right where you want them.
The fit and finish is flawless to these eyes. There is a really classy feel to things - nothing jars under the fingertips, there is a solid premium feel to the switchgear, and the 'ground' metal highlights are really appealing.
The feature list is similarly impressive. Infiniti set out to "put everything in, that a buyer expects to find".
Standard equipment across the three-model range includes powered and heated driver's and passenger's seat, dual-zone climate control, seven-inch touchscreen, 30gb HDD sat-nav, 10gb music storage, Bluetooth phone and music connectivity, iPod/USB control, 11-speaker Bose audio (13-speaker in Convertible), remote keyless entry, push-button start, bi-xenon headlights with active front lighting and auto-levelling.
The GT Coupe features 18-inch 10-spoke alloys, the S Premium gets 19-inch alloys. The up-spec models also add tyre pressure monitoring, a rear spoiler, and mechanical upgrades including sports brakes and suspension, a viscous limited-slip diff and 4-wheel 'active steering'.
Safety is well accounted for with airbags everywhere, pop-up roll bars on the Convertible, front active head restraints, pretensioning seatbelts and 'the works' in dynamic safety systems - ABS, traction control, and so forth.
ON THE ROAD
Nissan/Infiniti builds a cracking V6. Under the bonnet of the G37 is a free-spinning 3.7 litres pumping out an athletic 235kW and 360Nm. Nissan afficionados will recognise the donk - it's the same sterling engine that does service under the bonnet of the 370Z.
It's swift rather than thumping. Infiniti claims a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.9 seconds for the Coupe and 6.4 seconds for the Convertible (an extra 200kg at fault here).
We've no reason to doubt those times; certainly, on road, it feels very brisk.
But plant it, and it doesn't hammer the nail like a performance V8 or turbo '6'; it's power delivery is more like a rising wave.
It is nicely matched to the seven-speed 'conventional' automatic. Leave it to its own devices and shifts are clean and as good as instantaneous. Pull it across to 'sport', and it holds gears longer - will howl its head off as it runs to the rev-limiter - and downshifts into corners.
Or, you can take things in hand with the magnesium paddle shifters at the wheel.
It's DSG-quick without the complications of DSG. And it's interesting that so many manufacturers are now producing high-performance torque-converter autos that as near as damn match the shift speed and lock-up characteristics of twin-clutch gearboxes.
Overtaking, or firing out of a corner, is as quick as you want it to be. That's the great benefit of a performance drive.
The Coupe is rock-solid into corners, and unshakeable out of them. The semi mid-ship layout, with the engine set low behind the front wheels, combined with a rigid chassis and superior double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear, is responsible.
Its balance is superb, as is turn-in. It doesn't have the sublime athletic poise of the 335i Coupe, but is not far off it. Only once, when getting on the juice too early into the apex, did we induce any tyre-squealing understeer.
The rear wheel steer can be felt when pushing hard - you might mistake it at first, as we did, for the back 'coming around'. When driving hard, it tightens the line from the rear.
The Convertible is not so happy when pushed. It's not floppy, but its chassis is not a patch on the Coupe. That metal convertible top sits over a wide opening, and the chassis is compromised as a result.
On undulating tarmac, or poor broken roads, the wheel 'shimmies'. The Convertible, even with the top locked in place, also struggles to get out of a corner as cleanly and quickly as the Coupe.
It's worse with the top down, when you've also got all that weight sitting in the boot. (And nothing else, incidentally - with the roof down there is room for a tube of toothpaste in the boot, and not much else.)
But each on road, both Coupe and Convertible, are amazingly quiet. On smooth tarmac, especially in the snug Coupe, road noise is almost completely attenuated, it's almost 'other-worldly' and contributes to an impression of a very classy ride.
There are a few more intrusions with the Convertible, but the roof fits snugly, and, when down, wind is deflected with little turbulence around the cabin. It's certainly one of the better ones for top-down cruising if not for a thrash around a mountain road.
We gave each a pounding on launch. With this driving, fuel consumption becomes academic. The listed fuel use of 10.5 l/100km for the Coupe, and 11.4 l/100km for the Convertible is on par for vehicles of this type.
FIRST DRIVE VERDICT
This pair of twins might be the game-changer for Infiniti in this market. It's tough getting noticed as a newcomer to a market already crammed with more models and brands than it can sensibly support.
But the Infiniti G37 Coupe and Convertible are genuine contenders: perhaps the handsome styling and long, long feature lists in a segment where most are notoriously stingy (and ticking just a few boxes can collapse the healthiest wallet) might just get the brand the attention it seeks.
Certainly, if all things were equal - and they aren't, of course - the G37 has enough up its sleeve to seriously challenge the German sporting trio, the C-Class Coupe, 3 Series Coupe and Audi A5 Coupe.
Infiniti Oz boss Bill Peffer thinks that there is a "white space" gap in the premium sports-coupe market that Infiniti hopes to mine with its new G37 twins.
We came away impressed with these cars - the entry-level Coupe in particular.
If you're not afraid to make your own rules, you'll be well satisfied with a freshly-minted Infiniti G37 in the garage.
- GT Premium - $75,900 RRP ($84,970 drive-away Victoria)
- S Premium - $83,500 RRP ($92,950 drive-away Victoria)
- S Premium - $87,900 RRP ($97,570 drive-away Victoria)
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