Review : 2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe


G35 Coupe

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS

A few years ago, Nissan's upscale Infiniti division seemed to be 
searching for direction. The search is now over, and Infiniti has a 
very definite direction - sports-luxury vehicles with unique style and 
character. No car shows this better than the G35. Based on the 
same platform - called ``FM'' for its' front-midship engine placement 
- as the latest version of the legendary Nissan Skyline and 350Z, 
and developed by a team led by key players in Nissan's early-1990s 
endurance racing efforts, the G35 sedan brought a serious Infiniti 
presence to the sports sedan niche when it debuted a year ago. This 
year, the G35 coupe serves notice to any and all competitors that 
Infiniti is serious in its quest for the mid-luxury sports crown.
    
Although the G35 Coupe shares mechanical components with the 
sedan, it shares no major body parts. The same applies to the 350Z. 
It shares part of the roof structure with the 350Z, but that's it. The 
350Z is a two-seater with a hatchback roof; the G35 Coupe is a 
2+2 with a separate trunk opening. More upscale in appointment 
and conservative in styling than the ``Z'', the G35 Coupe should 
appeal to a slightly older buyer - one who appreciates classically-
inspired style as well as modern technology, and still has a desire 
for serious performance.

Three models of the G35 Coupe are offered. All have a 280-
horsepower of the Infiniti 3.5-liter V6 engine. The basic car comes 
with a five-speed automatic transmission, like its sedan sibling. In 
the Infiniti manner, a more-luxurious ``Leather'' model of the 
automatic car is offered. Top of the line is the six-speed manual 
transmission model, which comes with the leather-appointed 
interior and high-performance Brembo brakes.
 
I've been driving a six-speed G35 Coupe for the past week and 
am loath to give it up. Infiniti has done a masterful job of combining 
style, comfort, and serious performance capability in this car. It 
bodes well for Infiniti's future.

APPEARANCE: The G35 coupe combines the proportions of 
classic European 2+2 sports coupes of the 1950s and 1960s with 
contemporary details for a unique and instantly-identifiable look. 
The basic shape, with its long hood and graceful fastback cabin, 
celebrates 2+2 sports car history, but there is no overt nostalgia in 
its appearance. The wide, horizontally-barred grille and vertically-
stacked, faired Xenon headlights are similar but not quite identical 
to those of the G35 Sedan. The shapes of the bulging hood, 
fenders, fastback passenger cabin, and Kamm-truncated tail bring 
memories of European exotica without in any way copying any 
other car. The L-shaped multiple-LED taillights are a pleasant and 
functional 21st-Century touch. Its sleek, aerodynamic looks are 
more than skin-deep, too. As in race cars,  internal and underbody 
air flow are managed to reduce lift and drag. The result is a car that 
is athletically muscular without being muscle-bound.

COMFORT: Inside, the G35 Coupe is, unsurprisingly, similar to the 
sedan in styling and appointment, which means that is it 
contemporarily stylish and functional. As with other new Infiniti 
and Nissan vehicles, the main instrument cluster is mounted on the 
steering column, so that the instruments move vertically with the 
column for driver visibility. The backlit main gauges are always 
easily-visible, as are the auxiliary gauges and controls. And, yes, 
there is the trademark Infiniti analog clock in the top center portion 
of the center stack. The front seats are fully equal to the best found 
in any of the G35's European competition, and, like those of the 
sedan feature easily-used power adjustment from switches mounted 
inboard, near the transmission tunnel. Like the G35 sedan, useful 
storage compartments are found in the dash (unless the optional 
navigation system is ordered), and in the doors and console. The 
G35 sedan is notable for its spacious rear seat. The G35 coupe is a 
2+2 sports coupe, with a different mission. Rear seat access is good 
for a coupe, as is legroom. Headroom is best for people under 5' 6". 
The rear seat back folds to allow oversize cargo, and the trunk is 
reasonably sized for the car's purpose.

SAFETY: The G35 is designed to protect occupants in a collision 
with strong construction, front and rear crumple zones, front and 
front side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags.

ROADABILITY: One lesson learned in endurance racing was that 
driver comfort adds driver performance. An alert, comfortable 
driver is a happy driver. And so the G35 coupe has a very rigid 
chassis, with an aluminum-intensive fully-independent multilink 
suspension that is tuned to provide first-rate handling and driver 
comfort. As its ``Front-midship'' designation suggests, the engine is 
placed well back in the chassis, for optimum weight distribution for 
handling. It's tuned a little more firmly than that of the G35 sedan, 
and the six-speed model gets a further upgrade with 18-inch wheels 
and staggered-size 45-profile W-rated tires. Cornering behavior is 
very, very good. Massive Brembo brakes stop it impressively. They 
look good, too, peering out behind the alloy wheels.

PERFORMANCE: The version of the high-tech 3.5-liter VQ35DE 
dual overhead cam, 24-valve aluminum alloy V6 found in the G35 
Coupe has a touch more power than that found in the sedan, with 
280 horsepower at 6200 rpm and 279 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm 
versus the sedan's 260 horses and 260 lb-ft. It's plenty strong right 
off the line, and power just keeps building to redline. Although the 
engine's torque curve is broad enough for easy, ``shifting optional'' 
performance, the smooth, short-throw shifter encourages shifting 
just for joy. And the engine makes classic six-cylinder music while 
doing so. 

CONCLUSIONS: The G35 Coupe puts Infiniti on the sports-
luxury map big time with a wonderful combination of style, speed, 
and comfort.

SPECIFICATIONS
2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

Base Price			$ 32,050
Price As Tested		        $ 34,565
Engine Type			dual overhead cam 24-valve 
aluminum alloy V6 with variable intake timing
Engine Size			3.5 liters / x cu. in.
Horsepower			280 @ 6200 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			270 @ 4800 rpm
Transmission			6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length		112.2 in. / 182.2 in.
Curb Weight			3435 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower	        12.3
Fuel Capacity			20 gal.
Fuel Requirement		91 octane unleaded premium gasoline
Tires				P225/45 WR18 front, P245/45 
WR18 rear Michelin Pilot Sport
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / vented disc,
 antilock, brake assist, VSC standard
Suspension, front/rear		independent multilink /
 independent multilink
Drivetrain			front engine, rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		20 / 27 / 22
0 to 60 mph				est 5.8  sec
Coefficient of Drag (cd)		0.29

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Carpeted trunk mat with logo    	$    70
225-watt Bose(r) audio system		$   900
Power glass sliding sunroof		$ 1,000
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