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Nissan created a hit with its 3.5-liter VQ engine, using it in many different Infiniti and Nissan models. What does the company do for an encore? Bore out that engine to 3.7 liters, develop a new variable valve timing system, and drop it in the legendary Skyline, called the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe in the U.S.
With the Infiniti G37 Coupe, Nissan has built a very powerful and good-looking sports coupe. The Infiniti brand also carries a lot of cutting-edge cabin technology, seen in the G37 Coupe with a hard-drive-based navigation system, music server, iPod integration, hands-free Bluetooth cell phone integration, and a solid Bose audio system.
Test the tech: Skyline on Skyline
Although called the Infiniti G37 Coupe over here, in Japan it's the Nissan Skyline 370GT, the latest in the legendary Skyline series. It just so happens that there is a popular driving road in the San Francisco Bay Area called Skyline Boulevard. For our test of the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe, we drove it the length of Skyline Boulevard.
For our drive, we went up Highway 17, from San Jose into the Santa Cruz mountains, then exiting north on Black Road, which ends at the start of Skyline. As an additional challenge, our test occurred during the first rains of the season, which would have a notable effect. Because our test car wasn't equipped with the optional navigation system, we had to rely on old-fashioned paper maps to plot our route. But we did have iPod integration, so on the way up 17 we scrolled through our music choices, settling on David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust.
Once on Black Road, the fun began. We were eager to test out the 330 horses of this stellar-looking sport coupe, and work out its six-speed manual. But one of the first turns we hit was a hairpin, and as we pushed the accelerator and cranked the wheel, we found the front of the car continuing in a straight line. OK, back off the gas and let it follow the direction the wheels were turned. Seems we have a problem with grip here, exacerbated by the wet conditions and the car's standard summer tires.
Now that we had a sense of the car's limitations, we approached successive corners with caution until we had a better feel for the car. Black Road continued on with many tight, second-gear turns. We found the traction control light coming on frequently, although the wheels were still slipping all over the place. Once on Skyline, most of the corners were broader, letting us power through in third gear. A lot of these turns go on for an unreasonable amount of time, and as we felt we had hit the limits of our available traction, the end would come in sight. At that point we could hit the gas and use the growling power of the 3.7-liter V-6 to take us out of the turn.
We negotiated turn after turn in the G37 Coupe, building up to a pretty good clip, but always conscious of the slick conditions. Somewhere along the way, the stereo finished up with Ziggy Stardust, so we quickly thumbed the audio source button on the steering wheel, moving over to the six-disc changer, where we had Paul Westerburg's Mono queued up on an MP3 CD. But we also brought the volume down, as we were more interested in listening to the car.
Approaching Highway 92, there are a good set of turns rated at 40 and 30 mph. Coming in to one of the latter, we downshifted hard to second, immediately getting a small torque slide to the left. But as always, the G37 Coupe had enough engine power on top to pull us back on track.
During this exercise, the G37 Coupe's loose grip kept us on edge. We enjoyed driving it, especially when we could let the engine rev high in second gear, as it makes a great throaty growl. The steering itself was tight, with little understeer. But we would opt for some more grippy rubber.
In the cabin
As of late, Infiniti has been offering impressive cabin tech in its models. The G37 Coupe takes this trend and pushes it further. As with other Infiniti cars we've seen, the LCD in the dashboard is standard, even if you don't have the navigation option.
The onscreen interface is composed of menus, and uses a big knob with directional buttons set in its top. There is also an enter button and a back button. This interface is fairly easy to use, but sometimes we weren't sure if we should turn the knob or push the directional buttons (both often gave duplicate results). Another bit of interface confusion comes from the audio controls mounted midway down the stack. These controls let you tune in radio stations, which you can't do with the upper controls. They also let you choose folders on an MP3 CD, which you can also do with the upper controls.