The voice command system is rather simple, but it works well enough. For example, when navigating, we could invoke the command for displaying nearby restaurants and then choose from a list of the five closest places, but we could not search for a specific restaurant by name without stopping and using the touch screen.
The navigation system that forms the heart of the tech package is similar to what we've seen in many Infinitis and Nissans before. A rotating knob/directional pad combination works with a touch-screen interface and the voice command system to give drivers many options for executing tasks. The touch screen is well shielded from glare under most conditions, the sole exception being when the power sunroof is open on a bright day.
In this incarnation, the GPS navigation system is hard-drive-based and features the lightning fast response times that we've come to expect from such systems. Searching points of interest is quick and painless, thanks to an autocomplete feature on the input screen. If you miss a turn, the GPS will quickly reroute and suggest an alternate path almost instantaneously.
The system features traffic data, which can be accessed via a map overlay or through a traffic menu that lists, in detail, any trouble spots on your route. The system colors the onscreen road in green to indicate smooth traffic, yellow for congested, and red for stopped. When selecting a destination, the system will alert you verbally if there is traffic on your route and where it is. It doesn't make any attempt to route you around the traffic, but at least it gives you the heads-up to call ahead and say you'll be late if you can't change course.
When the time comes to make that call, you'll want to use the G37's Bluetooth hands-free calling to stay legal. Call quality is good in the G37's quiet cabin. The system doesn't automatically pull in your phone's contacts when pairing, so set some time aside to manually set that up.
Bluetooth audio streaming is not yet available in the G37, but if the 2009 Nissan Maxima is any indication, the feature may be available in future models.
The hard drive backing the navigation system also gives the driver access to 9.3GB of storage space for ripping audio from CDs. Other media sources include a single-disc CD player with MP3-capability, AM/FM radio, optional satellite radio, an auxiliary RCA audio/video input, and an optional 30-pin iPod connection.
While browsing songs on our iPod Touch, we were slightly annoyed by having to scroll through hundreds of artist or albums to find the one we were seeking. Selecting with the rotating knob tired our hand out before we could get to artists beginning with the letter E. Pressing and holding down on the directional pad resulted in scrolling through long lists so fast that we often overshot the song we were looking for. The rotating-knob control system isn't that much different from Alpine's, so perhaps Nissan/Infiniti can draw some inspiration from the way the iDA-X100 handles long lists of songs. Once you've chosen your song, audio is piped through an optional 11-speaker Bose audio system. Sound quality is good, with strong, punchy bass that never overpowers the music thanks to dedicated midrange speakers and tweeters set close to ear level.
Under the hood
Powering the rather large G37 Coupe is a larger displacement version of Nissan/Infiniti's bread-and-butter VQ-series V-6 engine. Inhaling and combusting 3.7-liters of air and fuel with each revolution, the G37's engine outputs 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Tread lightly on the pedal on the right and you'll be rewarded with an EPA estimated 18 city and 25 highway miles per gallon when equipped with all-wheel drive, which is fairly typical of an engine of this size.
A heavy right foot results in fuel economy somewhere near the bottom of that spectrum. Our all-wheel-drive G37 Coupe put power to the wheels through a single-option seven-speed automatic transmission with Sport mode and manual gear selection. Power delivery is strong and even, however, the automatic transmission is a bit slow with the gear changes, even in Sport mode. Fortunately, the downshifts are accompanied by computer-controlled Rev Matching, so shifts don't upset the chassis.
Anticipating the half-second it takes the transmission to do its thing still results in an enjoyable driving experience. The ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system biases up to 100 percent of available torque to the rear wheels under most conditions, resulting in a very sports car-like driving experience. In Sport mode, the system allows for a little slip before the safety systems step in to divert up to 50 percent of power to the front wheels, so we were able to have a little fun in the turns.
Under aggressive cornering, the G37's firm suspension keeps the body flat and drama-free. The suspension is stiff, yet not harsh, thanks to Dual Flow Path dampers that soak up bumps without too much compromise to performance.
Although we compared the Infiniti G37 Coupe with its smaller cousin the Nissan Z, we expect the G37 to be cross-shopped against the likes of the BMW 335i Coupe. Interior accouterments and materials are comparable for the two coupes. Cabin tech may be a draw as well, depending on whether the BMW is equipped with the newest version of iDrive. Despite the Infiniti's extra 30 horsepower, we feel that the BMW has an edge in handling, putting the two vehicles once again on equal footing. Consider the price tag and suddenly the balance shifts wildly.
Our 2009 G37 Coupe with all-wheel drive starts at $38,700, before adding a $3,000 premium package (including moonroof, Bose audio with iPod connectivity, and Bluetooth), the $2,200 navigation system with Music Box, $1,650 for 18-inch wheels, $550 for wood trim, and $300 for illuminated kick plates. The final tally is $47,245, including an $815 destination fee.
That may be a pretty penny, but an equally equipped 2009 BMW 335i xDrive Coupe tips the scales at $57,591, more than $10,000 more expensive. Looked at through this lens, the Infiniti G37 Coupe represents a tremendous value.