Review : 2003 Infiniti 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
CONCLUSIONS: The G35 Coupe puts Infiniti on the sports-
luxury map big time with a wonderful combination of style, speed,
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 /
Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive
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