2008 Infiniti G37 Sport 6MT Review


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2008 Infiniti G37 Sport 6MT

The Infiniti G coupe is ostensibly the coupe model of the G35 sedan, but... if, when the Nissan 350Z made its debut in 2003, anyone wondered why there was no 2+2 model, that question was answered by by Nissan's upscale Infiniti division, with its G35 coupe. Where the old Z 2+2s, built from the early `80s through the Z's apparent demise at the end of the 1996 model year, were stretched variations of the then-current 280 or 300ZX, the Infiniti G coupe was a clean-sheet design, meant from the start to be a 2+2. Instead of the somewhat ungainly proportions of the Z 2+2s, the G coupe was clad in a body that would have done any Italian styling house proud.

Underneath, both the G35 sedan and coupe shared use Nissan's FM platform with the 350Z,and the VQ35 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Z 2+2 was an established product when Infiniti was born as Nissan's luxury division, but with the rebirth of the Z it made more sense to differentiate the strictly two-place Nissan sports car and the 2+2 coupe. A 2+2 needs to be larger, and so will be heavier. Placed and equipped as an entry-luxury coupe, ultimate performance may be compromised some, at least as compared to a more narrowly-focused two-seater, but that will be made up for by increased comfort, a perhaps-useful rear seat, and style.

In the case of the Infiniti G coupe, the rear seat is more than perhaps useful, if not as spacious as that of the sedan. The G35 sedan got a makeover for model year 2007, and for 2008, it's the coupe's turn.

Second-generation changes to the G coupe are immediately obvious, with more voluptuous styling, and a lower, wider stance. Under that lovely skin are even more important revisions. The "G37" designation comes from a new engine. While larger at a namesake 3.7 liters displacement, there are also significant internal modifications. The result is a substantial power increase - from 275 with an automatic or 293 with a stick to 330 - with better fuel efficiency and lower emissions levels. The rear wheels are driven through either an improved five-speed automatic transmission with available manual paddle-shifting or a revised six-speed manual gearbox. The G37's unibody structure has been stiffened, and aluminum suspension components decrease unsprung weight to improve response and handling.

Three variations of the G37 coupe are offered. The base model G37 and luxury-oriented Journey both come with the automatic. If you have the need to shift for yourself the old-school way, the Sport is stick-only, with the sport suspension package, wheels, and limited-slip differential included.

And it is the Sport that I've been driving for the past week. It's a lovely car, not just in looks, but in the driving experience as well. Even with the rather comprehensive "Premium Package" adding an extra $3200 to the bottom line, it was still (just) under $40,000 - half the price of some European GT coupes to which it compares very well. And if the G37 doesn't have quite the timeline of performance heritage of its European rivals, it has plenty of its own. The Z is a close cousin, as is the Nissan current Skyline. No lack of heritage there. The Infiniti G37, especially in Sport trim, is as overqualified for life in America as any European GT, and offers first-rate performance and handling, with a melodic six-cylinder soundtrack.

Appearance

All too often, an automaker will get the styling on a car absolutely perfect, and then blow it on the next generation by making that car bulkier and over-styled. The 2003 through `07 G35 coupe was so right that I feared for its replacement. Fortunately, Infiniti did well. Yes, the G37 is lower and wider and more curvaceously styled, but it is not over-done. In all respects, it's a development of the G35 coupe, with the current Infiniti convex "wave-shaped" bright chrome grille, bright L-shaped headlights, a domed hood (with a near-invisible center line) flanked by raised, flowing fenders in front, a classic fastback coupe roofline, small fender flares, proper for its upscale performance mission, and a smartly-truncated tail with a small spoiler and L-shaped taillights. Interior and underbody airflow management obviates the need for large, lurid wings.

Comfort

As with the first-generation G coupe, the G37's interior styling and appointment is similar to that of the G35 sedan. No surprise there, and nothing wrong with that. It's styled and appointed in the current Japanese entry-luxury manner, with clean lines, leather upholstery, and brushed aluminum trim (or optional rosewood). As before, the main instruments are mounted in a pod attached to the instrument panel, so when the steering wheel is tilted they tilt with it. Electroluminescent instruments are bright and easily readable in all lighting. The steering wheel is covered with hand-stitched leather, and, with the Premium Package with which my test car was equipped, it's power-adjustable for both tilt and reach. Both front seats are power-adjustable; the Sport gets some performance-oriented upgrades like power bolstering adjustment for the driver. That, and the well-placed, short-throw leather-and-aluminum shift lever and aluminum and rubber pedals (placed for easy heel-and-toe driving and with a matching right footrest) give the driver a great office from which to conduct business. Rear passenger space is better than in some coupes, but 5-6 with a moderate torso is pretty much the limit, with headroom getting nonexistent after that. Access is helped by latches built into the front seatbacks, and buttons that automatically move the front seat when used. Trunk space is adequate for a long weekend for two, and the entire rear seatback can be folded forward for large cargo, or the rear seat used as a cargo shelf. Like the G35 Coupe, the G37 has a regular small trunk opening, and is not a hatchback. A wide variety of audio and navigation options are available.

Safety

Zone Body construction means that G37 passengers are surrounded by a strong safety cage with front and rear crush zones, side-impact reinforcement, and dual front, front-seat side, and full-length side curtain airbags. Brakes are four-wheel vented disc in all models, larger and stronger in the Sport, with four-channel antilock, brake assist, electronic brake distribution, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control stability enhancement system with traction control.

Ride and Handling

The G37's version of the FM platform has been massaged, with a 36 percent increase in stiffness, wider track, and lower stance resulting. Suspension is fully-independent, with double wishbones in front and a multilink setup in the rear. Aluminum components are used to decrease unsprung weight. The Sport 6MT gets the Sport Package as standard equipment, meaning high-performance tires on 19-inch alloy rims, larger brake discs, all vented, with four-piston front and twin-piston rear calipers, and a viscous limited-slip differential along with firmer spring and damper tuning. The result is appropriately stiff, for excellent handling, but not so harsh as to be uncomfortable for distance. A "4-Wheel Active Steer" package, with adjustable rear suspension geometry and an automatically-variable steering ratio, is available on Sport and Journey models. Shades of the `80s.

Performance

Add the namesake 3.7-liter V6 and smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox to the G37's fine (and fun) chassis and the result is a first-class driving experience. The latest development in Nissan's acclaimed VQ series of engines, the dual overhead cam, 24-valve, aluminum alloy 3.7 features a multitude of internal improvements and hydraulically-controlled variable cam phasing and valve lift on the intake cams to increase horsepower (to 330 at 7000 rpm) and torque (to 270 lb-ft at 5200 rpm) while improving efficiency and decreasing emissions. Redline is 7600 rpm, and while it will happily spin up there, low- and mid-range torque is healthy enough to make it easy to drive anywhere, anytime. Exploration of the top of the rev range is likely to result in a PhD in traffic school, even in second gear. Even with that, I averaged 19 mpg.

Conclusions

Infiniti ups the ante in the luxury-performance coupe class with its new G37.

Specifications

2008 Infiniti G37 Sport 6MT

Base Price $ 35,550
Price As Tested $ 39,465
Engine Type aluminum alloy dual overhead cam
24-valve V6 with variable cam phasing
and valve lift
Engine Size 3.7 liters / 225 cu. in.
Horsepower 330 @ 7000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 270 @ 5200 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Wheelbase / Length 112.2 in. / 183.1 in.
Curb Weight 3,668 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 11.1
Fuel Capacity 20 gal.
Fuel Requirement 91 octane premium unleaded gasoline
Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
F: 225/45R19 92 W R: 245/40R19 94W
Brakes, front/rear vented disc (all),
ABS, EBD, BA, VDC standard
Suspension, front/rear independent double wishbone /
independent multilink
Drivetrain front engine, rear-wheel drive
PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed
17 / 26 / 19
0 to 60 mph 5.4 sec
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Premium Package
Includes power sliding moonroof, Infiniti "Studio On Wheels"™
premium audio system by Bose™ w/24-bit Burr Brown DAC,
Infiniti iPod™ interface system, memory for seats, steering
wheel, and mirrors, power driver's lumbar support, power
tilt and telescope steering wheel, Homelink™ universal
transceiver, Bluetooth™ Hands-free phone system,
heated front seats and side mirrors
$ 3,200
Destination charge $ 715

Complete specifications on the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Sport 6MT and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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