2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Road Test Review
Ahh, the personal car. Anyone who cares anything about cars or their personal image has a favorite car that they dream about. In most cases, that dream car has only two doors, even though the dreamer's situation calls for a more practical sedan or SUV. The folks who fancy themselves as car enthusiasts know what they want, often, right down to the color. They even know what changes they would make to customize it.
If you are young and single, or married with no kids, you will often act on that dream if at all possible. Empty nesters (couples who's kids have grown and moved out) are even more capable of realizing their dream by taping into their savings or their retirement funds.
There are plenty of choices among this type of car that fit most budgets, like a used Mustang, or Accord coupe for folks on a shoestring, or new versions of these cars for people with fatter wallets.
Guys and gals who are young and just starting out and don't mind working for their cars and putting themselves in needless debt (like I did when I was young and foolish), will get exactly what they long for, and there are certainly many people these days with the means to spend for a more upscale personal coupe, perhaps as a second car. For many of these people, their car of choice will be an Infiniti G Coupe.
The Infiniti G35 Coupe has only been around since 2003, but it has developed quite a following. Most people go first for the sleek styling that took more than inspiration from the Nissan 350Z two-seat sports car. What was great about the G Coupe was that it was able to seat 4 adults in relative comfort without messing up the swoopy lines that made the Z so popular.
Styling aside, once enthusiasts found out how good the G35 Coupe drove and performed, they were hooked. This car had an amazingly smooth and powerful V6 engine, a well sorted out suspension system and rear-wheel drive. The G Coupe, in fact, was favorably compared with the BMW 3-series coupe, the gold standard for sports coupes, even though the G cost thousands less.
Now after a 5 year run, Infiniti decided to take the G Coupe and refine it not only to better measure up to the Beemer coupe, They wanted to beat the 3 series people at their own game. A tall order, but did they succeed? We took the time to find out.
Despite the similarity in appearance with the previous G35 Coupe, the 2008 G37 Coupe is an all new car. There are no shared body panels with the G35 that it is replacing. In fact, there are no shared body panels with the newG35 sedan which it is based on with the exception of the hood. And what a job they did. To my eye, the styling is clean and masterfully executed with every line flowing and blending into a beautiful sculpture. So let's take closer look at this beauty, but be careful not to salivate all over your keyboard.
Beside the new body, the G coupe has an all new engine that is larger for more power, but gets better fuel economy than the previous generation. The engine is now 3.7 liters up from 3.5, which is why the car was given the new name G37. The previous G35 had a sweet V6 that was one of the best in the business, but this new engine, if you can believe it, is even better.
Beside the fact that this engine generates more horsepower than the previous V6, it also gets better fuel economy than before, an impressive achievement. This is done in the new VQ37VHR engine by the use of a technology called VVEL (for Variable Valve Event and Lift). This system combines hydraulically controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side to help improve performance and response. This new system also allows for a 7,500 rpm redline on the G37.
Infiniti tells us that this engine also features their trademark Swell acceleration, a system that utilizes special tuning and computer calibration that allows horsepower to build almost continually right to the redline. They tell us that it feels like a building wave. The sound that comes from the exhaust goes from a sultry murmur at light throttle to a powerful, masculine snarl at full throttle, that sound was accentuated by the well placed shifts of the upgraded automatic transmission was in our test car.
Still mated to a 5 speed shiftable automatic (a 6 speed manual Sport model is available), the transmission has been calibrated to work beautifully within the engine's power band. For manual control, there are two paddle shifters behind the steering wheel that are fastened to the column and remain stationary when you turn the wheel (these paddles are part of the Sport Package). The left paddle is for down shifting while the right paddle is for up-shifting. Since the paddles are quite long and follow the curve of the steering wheel, there is no problem using them when they are most needed, while snaking around a great winding road. We like these stationary paddles better than the ones that are attached to the steering wheel because you always know where the paddles are regardless of where your hands are or the position of the wheel as you negotiate a challenging road.
The interior of the G has undergone a vast improvement from the previous generation and to my mind is the hands-down winner when compared to the 3 series.. Fit and finish is markedly improved and the layout of the controls is better than ever.
The instrument cluster moves with the tilt steering column so that the instruments are always in full view. The steering wheel also telescopes for a perfect fit.
A touch of the start button brings the G to life with a pleasant exhaust note. At the same time, the gauge cluster lights up with back lighting and a soft purple glowing ring in the tach and speedo dials. These gauges are called "Fine Vision" and are easy to read day or night.
The central control stack, which houses the audio system and climate controls, now has a standard color display whether or not you opt for GPS navigation. If you do opt for the nav system and also subscribe to the XM satellite radio service, you get Nav-Traffic. This system will display current traffic flow as well as real-time accident information and construction delays right on the map display. Currently, this system works in many major metropolitan areas.
Nav traffic works by superimposing two lines along side major roadways. These lines represent traffic flow in each direction and are green if the traffic is moving well, yellow if traffic is slowing down, or red, if the traffic is going very slow or stopped. There are also symbols along the roadway on the map that represent accidents or construction along the route. We were told that this information is updated every 3 minutes.
The dash, door panels and console are trimmed with Washi-style textured aluminum-alloy accents. Washi is a form of Japanese hand-made paper that is often used to make origami. It has an interesting texture that gives the interior a rich appearance. This aluminum trim can be replaced with elegant looking Genuine African Rosewood if desired (the wood option is not available on vehicles with the Sport Package).
Front sport seats were very comfortable and did a good job of supporting us as my driving partner and I took turns flinging the G into the corners of the spectacular winding roads we found ourselves on while touring the Pacific Northwest around Seattle.
The G37 is a rear-wheel drive car that is available in 3 models; the base G37 model, the Journey and the Sport 6MT.
The base model is very well equipped to begin with and includes leather, 8 way power driver's seat, 4 way power passenger seat, HID projector beam headlamps, automatic temperature control AC, 18 inch wheels and tires, intelligent key system. In other words, well equipped.
Jump into the Journey and you also get things like automatic on/off headlamps, 6-disc CD changer instead of a single disc unit, 8 way power passenger seat, dual zone climate control, etc. The Journey model is required if you want several of the option packages, which are not available for the base model.
The Sport 6MT is the only model that has the 6-speed stick. In fact, you can't order this model with an automatic. You can, however, get a Sport package added to the Journey model which will get you all the performance and styling upgrades that come standard on the Sport 6MT model
The Sport Package equipped Journey is the car we spent most of our driving time in and, as far as I was concerned, it was love at first sight. The Sport Package gives you the magnesium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and 19 inch lightweight cast aluminum wheels with P225/45WR19 rubber on the front and wider P245/40WR19 high performance tires for the rear. Other features included with the Sport Package are: viscous limited-slip differential, sport tuned suspension, larger brakes with the Infiniti logo emblazoned on the calipers, unique front fascia and side sills, sport-styled seats w/ thigh extensions and drivers power adjustable torso and thigh bolsters, sport-styled steering wheel stitching and aluminum pedals. Now this is driving in style.
We also got a chance to drive one of these packages equipped with the 4-wheel active steer system, and since we drove it back to back with the standard sport setup, we had a chance to see the difference 4-wheel steer makes first hand. And what a difference it is.
While the standard setup was very good, offering sharp steering control and comfortable cruising with great directional stability, the active-steer car was better. If I were buying this car, I would definitely opt for active 4-wheel steer.
First of all, steering is more direct, if you can believe that. This car simply goes where you point it. At any speed, you could easily thread a needle with this steering. Normally, with a fast steering ratio on a car, it begins to show a lack of directional stability or feels twitchy when you are trying to cruise on a highway. Not so here. Directional stability is as good as any car I have driven, yet it feels extremely responsive.
The four-wheel active steer option includes a computer controlled variable ratio steering gear in front that tightens up the steering ratio during slow speed maneuvering. Below around 35 miles per hour, the steering is quite fast so that I rarely had to reposition my hands on the wheel while driving on the twisted country roads. Bring it up to highway speeds and the steering ratio gets less aggressive so it doesn't feel too sensitive for relaxed cruising.
On this option package, not only do the front wheels steer, but the rears do as well. At slow speeds, the rear wheels turn opposite the fronts which tightens the turning radius and allows you to park in a tighter space, or make a U-turn without needing to reverse. On the highway, the rear wheels steer at a small angle in the same direction as the front wheels, which improves highway stability.
To give you an example, the base model with 18 inch wheels and tires has a 16.4 to 1 steering ratio which will give you 3 full turns of the steering wheel lock to lock. If you order the Sport package, you get the 19 inch wheels and tires and a ratio of 14.7 to 1. This will get you 2.7 turns lock to lock. Now, if you order the active steering (which is only available if you also order the Sport Package) you get a variable ratio that goes from 11.9 to 1 to 14.3 to 1 and 2.2 to 2.6 turns lock to lock.
The G coupe will be a dream come true for anyone who wants a stylish coupe with great legs and an elegant interior for well south of the BMW 335i Coupe's $40,000 base price. The G Coupe has both the looks and the moves to light your fire and, for 2008, is more desirable than ever.