As mentioned above, our test car didn't come with the navigation system, which is a shame because it's a new hard-drive-based system and comes with XM live traffic reporting. And 9.3GB of space is set aside for music storage, a tech feature we've seen in a few other cars that we really like. The nav system also includes voice command, which not only controls navigation, but also handles audio and climate control.
In our test car, we had to content ourselves with the premium stereo system and iPod integration. For premium audio, the G37 Coupe gets a six-disc, MP3-capable changer with 24-bit digital audio converters and 11 Bose speakers. XM satellite radio comes standard with all the available stereo systems. We found navigating folders on an MP3 CD or channels on XM satellite radio relatively easy, despite the duplicate controls. The iPod integration on our test car, which comes as part of the Premium options package, was very useful, as well. The iPod port is mounted in the center console, along with a set of audio and video jacks.
We found the audio from this 11 speaker Bose system strong, with overall good quality. But it lacked the clarity and separation we heard from the Harman Kardon Logic7 system in the Mercedes-Benz C300 that we tested recently. This Bose system is definitely above average, but it could use a little more refinement to make the highs more distinct.
The other major tech feature in the cabin, another feature of the Premium package, was Bluetooth hands-free cell phone integration. We paired this system with a Samsung phone using voice command, the only way to access the system. We like that the car's LCD shows available commands when you start using voice command to control the phone system. Call quality was good and the voice-command system did a good job recognizing our commands. The only drawback to the system is that it doesn't copy over your cell phone's phone book, but it does have its own internal phone book that you can manually populate.
Under the hood
We had high expectations for the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe, but they weren't entirely met. The car looks great and the engine not only produces a lot of power, it sounds good doing it. But we found it difficult to get a really fast start off the line. The engine puts out its peak 330 horsepower at 7,000rpm, with a very high 7,500rpm redline. If you drop the clutch below 4,000rpm it doesn't feel like a whole lot of power is going to the wheels, while the car is restrained at higher rpms because of its lack of grip. You don't get a big kick from off-the-line acceleration, but it starts to feel satisfying at around 40 mph in second gear.
Along with the increased displacement over its last generation of engines, Nissan developed a new variable valve control system, called Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL), for the Infiniti G37 Coupe. This system keeps intake valve lift low at low to medium rpms to improve fuel efficiency, but is probably also responsible for the slow starts off-the-line. On the plus side, the larger displacement engine in the G37 Coupe seems to give the same fuel economy as the Infiniti G35. EPA rated mileage is 17mpg city and 26mpg highway. In our testing, we didn't break 20 mpg, averaging around 19 mpg for city and freeway driving. VVEL is also designed to cut down on emissions, but ratings weren't published for the G37 Coupe at the time of this review.
We found the six-speed manual very capable and enjoyable to use. It generally produced smooth shifts, although one of our staff members found the gate a little tight, making it difficult to hit third and fourth, the middle gears. Interestingly, besides the Infiniti G37 Sport, with its six-speed manual, there are two other G37s, the standard model and a Journey trim level. The two latter have five-speed automatics, a transmission that we can't imagine would be inspiring.
We mentioned our issues with the G37's grip. The Sport trimmed G37 comes standard with a limited slip differential, which should also lend a hand in holding the corners, and may explain why our back end never slid out dramatically. The suspension on the Sport model is very stiff, which should also help handling but can make the ride a bit jarring. There is an option for something called Four Wheel Active Steering, which adds variable adjustment to the steering ratio, but we didn't have it on our car.
Our test car was the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Sport, which bases at $35,550. Our only option was the $3,200 Premium package, which includes such niceties as the Bose stereo system, Bluetooth, iPod integration, and power adjustment for the steering wheel. With its $715 destination charge, our G37 Coupe came in at $39,465. Given our choice, we would also have added the $2,200 navigation option, and possibly the $1,150 Technology package, which includes adaptive headlights and adaptive cruise control.
The G37 Coupe has an impressive engine and body styling, but it also has some serious competition in the BMW 335i. With its full tech package onboard, though, the G37 Coupe gets some compelling features with its live traffic reporting and music server.