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2008 Infiniti G37 Review - Seduce Me

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe

By Rex Roy

Diving into a right-left-right downhill combination at Barber Motorsports Park just outside of Birmingham, Alabama, lots of things snap into focus. First, the 14-inch front rotors on the 2008 G37 Sport really burn off speed in a hurry. Second, the entire package is well balanced and just plain easy to drive quickly and smoothly. Third, the 2007 BMW 335i coupe provided for comparison may have some advantages over the Infiniti, but you’ll notice more of the BMW's deficiencies (rather than advantages) on the track.

Not out of whole cloth
Infiniti introduced their G35 coupe back in 2002 as a 2003 model. Those with a keen mind for the ephemeral recall it was introduced with its four-door counterpart the G35 sedan, and that the market warmed to the coupe as a more mature alternative to its shorter-wheelbase 2-seat cousin, the Nissan 350Z. Sales for Infiniti’s 2+2 regularly out paced seasoned competitors such as the Audi TT, the Mercedes C-Class coupes, and the G’s arch nemesis, the BMW 3-Series coupe.

At the 2008 G37’s introduction, it became clear that Infiniti wanted to improve the G, but not stray too far from their winning formula. There’s a reason why the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is an old saying.

In a disclosure that meant to give the press a peak inside the minds of development engineers, the Infiniti team referred to the G37 as “The Seductress.” Everything they did was designed to make the new coupe sexier and more … ahem … capable of plying her trade. Thankfully, no collagen or silicone was used in the revamp.

A little more G-whiz
Infiniti offers three different flavors of G37; the base, the Journey, and the Sport. Following the pattern Infiniti employed when they introduced their all-new G35 sedan earlier this year, the team added more power and technology to their new coupe. The 2008 G rides on an improved version of the FM platform utilizing the same 112.2-inch wheelbase as the original.

The chassis itself it stiffer (36-percent), as are the front and rear sub-frames (45-percent) on to which the suspension components mount. Up front are double wishbones and a multi-link arrangement brings up the rear. Both ends get stabilizer bars. At the corners are some massive disc brakes. Base models get 13-inch platters all around, while 14-inch (front) and 13.8-inch units are used on the Sport 6MT variant. Covering the discs are aluminum 18-inch rims on the base, and 19-inch rims for the Sport 6MT. Directing all of this high technology is a rack-and-pinion steering gear with electric, as opposed to hydraulic, assist.

The old G35 coupe’s V-6 was no boat anchor—it made 275 horsepower. Infiniti could have taken the easy way and just used the all-new engine they designed for the 2007 G35 sedan. But they didn’t. They went bigger. The 2008 coupe’s motor, while based on the 2007 sedan’s, got an increase in stroke of 0.2 liters. Horsepower now reaches 330 at 7,000 rpm. This is 24 more than the 2007 G35 sedan, and a full 55 more than the outgoing 2007 G35 coupe. Redline for the 2008 coupe’s V-6 VQ37VHR engine is 7,500 rpm. Torque peaks at 5,200 with a twisting force of 270 lb.-ft.

Along with the requisite overhead cams and four valve per cylinder, the 3.7-liter V-6 features variable valve timing and variable valve lift. An interesting technical fact is that with variable valve lift, there is no need for a traditional throttle body to modulate the air coming into the engine. The varying throw of intake valves now handle all that. (That’s along way from butterfly valves on carburetors, eh?)

Two transmissions back the 3.7-liter V-6; a 5-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. While neither sets new benchmarks for gears, gadgetry or gimmicks, they both work well. Compared to earlier G-coupes, the 6-speed’s linkage has been improved for smoother, more accurate throws. The automatic received new electronic controls that help the box shift smarter, especially on the track where the downshift rev-matching helps keep the chassis balanced and the engine in the power band.

While the 2008 G37’s chassis already meets high standards for spec-sheet gurus, Infiniti added the option of 4-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS). Intended to add stability during quick maneuvers at highway speeds, the 4WAS turns the rear wheels in-phase (the same direction) as the fronts up to 1. For most drivers, the addition of 4WAS will be something to brag about while bench racing because the effect is something most people won’t ever genuinely notice.

Putting the lateral G in the G37
We concentrated our time in the well-equipped Journey with an automatic and 4WAS, and a Sport 6MT non-4WAS. We accumulated seat time in both models over public roads and on the road course at Barber Motorsports Park. While Infiniti offers much infotainment for those so inclined, we were more interested in the smooth exhaust note and the suppleness that the suspension exhibited over varying road surfaces. Over the road both cars are quiet and quick.

Then things heated up on the track. Getting familiar with the technically-drawn track required a good dozen laps, then we could actually pay attention to the nuances of the new G. First, the full-equipped Journey was smooth … smoky torch singer smooth. While the car acquitted itself well with the transmission in Drive, using the Sport mode improved the automatic’s performance—downshifting quickly when braking, holding gear through corners, and upshifting higher in the rev range when exiting. The system also provides paddle shifters that allowed drivers to easily click-shift quickly and with a welcome absence of roughness.

Handling mimics the auto gearbox … quick and smooth. Transitions through corners are well managed and there’s no bobbing and weaving as you stop accelerating and begin braking or vise versa. The chassis feels quite neutral, and especially with the 4WAS, even really provocative driving could not cause oversteer. Engineers were pleased when we voiced our inability to kick the tail out, noting that most G37s won’t see track duty, and that this type of chassis tuning helps keep overzealous drivers from getting into trouble on the street. The 4WAS intervenes in a subtle manner only when the chassis is provoked, so you’ll know somebody’s lying when they say they can feel how this technology helps them go faster.

Compared to the BMW 335i with an automatic, the G37 performed more smoothly and with more intuition. One could feel the BMW’s extra torque, but the G’s automatic worked better, as did its chassis.

Our favorite ride of the day was the G37 Sport 6MT. Its manual gearbox was immediately comfortable, and we never missed a shift. The extra gear helped increase speeds, and without the 4WAS, the chassis was more tossable … not such a cautious dance partner. With this car, Infiniti’s estimate of mid 5-second 0-60 times seems entirely believable. For the record, the 6MT has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

An interesting comparison to the Sport 6MT was a previous generation G35 coupe (manual) that Infiniti also brought to the track. By comparison, the older G felt less sophisticated and refined. But that car’s less insulated steering provided far better feel. With fewer electronic controls, the older chassis felt freer to perform. If prospects for the new G37 want the feel of the old model, they can always turn to the Nissan Z.

Come hither
The new G37 is certainly as good looking as the original, but offers a more refined experience … kind of like dating a 30-something compared to a 20-something. One should find the G37 to be an excellent daily driver and a fine occasional track-day car. With these character traits and a nearly identical MSRP, the all-new G37 should easily seduce enough buyers to remain the top seller in the segment. The 2008 G37 Coupe shares a family resemblance to the previous generation G35 Coupe. The newer, high-performance coupe betters the older model in almost every performance benchmark.

2008 Infiniti G37

Base Price: $34,500-35,600 (estimated)
Engine: 3.7-liter V-6, 330 hp/270 lb-ft

Drivetrain: 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Length x width x height: 183.1 x 71.7 x 54.7 in

Wheelbase: 112.2 in

Curb weight: 3668 lb (G37 Sport with 6-speed manual)

Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 18/25 mpg (G35 estimate, G37 figures not yet available)

Safety equipment: Dual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, tire pressure monitoring system, Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system, first aid kit

Major standard equipment: HID headlamps, leather seating surfaces, 8-way power driver seat, 4-way power passenger seat, air conditioning with automatic temperature control; remote keyless entry; keyless start; rear-window defroster; steering wheel radio controls; power windows/locks/mirrors; AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM audio system; cruise control

Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
The 2008 G37 Coupe shares a family resemblance to the previous generation G35 Coupe. The newer, high-performance coupe betters the older model in almost every performance benchmark.