– Beautifully sleek styling
– Useful cabin space
– Great handling
– Shallow cargo area
– Tight rear seat access
– No proper handbrake
Being the new kid on the block is never easy. Being a new luxury brand in a tough market is even harder. But one company is taking the fight to the competition’s doorstep is Nissan. The Infiniti brand has made great strides in the last five years, after languishing in a black hole during the decade before. And among their sporting cars, the G37 Coupe has to be the crowning glory.
Designed almost to perfection, this is as good as a four-seater coupe can ever look without compromising on cabin space. Featuring 19-inch alloys, dual exhaust tips, rear lip spoiler, swoopy profile and various unique styling cues, the G37 Coupe isn’t simply a chopped version of the G sedan. It is a completely different car on the outside.
Open the long door, and the interior appears to be almost exactly the same as that in the sedan. Cabin materials are largely of the premium kind, with soft-touch materials on most of the dashboard and upper door areas, as well as swaths of wood trim. All is not perfect though, as lower cabin panels are finished in hard plastic, as is the entire rear passenger compartment, which isn’t in keeping with the goal of a luxury-oriented ambience. Our heavily-abused tester’s metal-look plastics were permanently scratched, and the thin wood strips on the doors were already peeling off.
The beefy leather seats have held up beautifully though. The sporty front buckets, embroidered with Infiniti emblems, are extensively power-adjustable, while the entire gauge cluster moves with the steering adjustment. More interesting was the adequately-spacious headroom and legroom, even in the back seat under that sloping rear window. Access to the rear remains cramped and complicated however. Also, the luggage area is long, but very shallow compared to that of the sedan. And except for a glovebox, a central cubby and four covered cup-holders, storage spaces inside the cabin are limited.
Occupants do enjoy a host of technological features though, even if none of them are new innovations. The LCD computer is Infiniti’s trademark system, using a touchscreen, dial and buttons for input. The system houses the navigation and additional functions for the a/c, entertainment, Bluetooth phone and trip computer. It isn’t extremely easy to use, but one can get around the system with a bit of practice and random hunting. Alongside the safety of numerous front-side airbags and HID headlights, the digital a/c is strong, the CD stereo is solid, the reverse camera is clear, the Bluetooth phone operates perfectly and the keyless entry-and-start feature is always welcome. It is great when everything just works without any fuss.
The G37 Coupe has a sizeable 3.7-litre V6 serving 330 hp at 7000 rpm, and 366 Nm of torque at a high 5200 rpm. These numbers look competitive on paper, but this naturally-aspirated V6 does not offer the low-end kick of modern turbocharged engines that BMW uses nowadays. With a disappointing 0-to-100 kph time of 7.2 seconds and a high fuel consumption of 16.6 litres per 100 km during our April test, this is the second time we’ve been let down by an Infiniti, likely because we keep getting high-mileage test cars. Our old tester came with a decent 5-speed automatic with fairly-responsive paddle shifters, although sometime in the middle of 2009, Infiniti replaced it with a brand new 7-speed unit which should improve performance, regardless of our issues.
There was nothing missing in the handling however. Our G37 Coupe had limited body-roll and decent grip. Shod with 225/45 front and 245/40 rear rubbers on 19-inch alloys, the car likely would’ve gripped even better had our car come with fresh tyres. As is, the rear wheels occasionally let loose under moderate throttle around tight corners, only to be caught by the not-too-intrusive stability control system. The steering is direct, and seemingly offered more feedback and firmness than the G35 sedan we tested two years prior. Even the brake pedal had more feel, which made it easier to linearly apply the strong ABS-assisted disc brakes. Sadly, the handbrake is replaced with a parking-brake pedal.
The G Coupe isn’t a bad luxury car at all. It rode a bit firmly, but still felt more supple than the BMW 335i, likely because the German comes standard with stiff run-flat tyres. Wind noise is minimal, and road noise never goes beyond moderate. Bumps are damped quickly and comfortably, with only the sharpest road imperfections jarring the ride. Slip it into cruise control, open the sunroof, and it becomes a sporty grand tourer without being as edgy as a full-blooded sports car, like its 350Z cousin.
The G37 Coupe makes a compelling case for itself, based purely on looks alone. It does not set any records in performance, but it is a proper performance car, with upscale luxury features to boot. After an insane price jump last year, we hear it is a value-packed brand again this year due to the recession, so it shouldn’t be too hard to make a decision on this car if a BMW is too expensive for one’s budget. We can only hope that the performance of a newer non-abused car is better than what we encountered.