Usually when a performance car features upgraded bodywork, it means that the automaker has slapped on a new front bumper, rear diffuser, side skirts, and sometimes a spoiler to make the car in question look more aggressive. This is exactly what Infiniti did with the IPL G Coupe -- spoiler and all. However, in this case the new body work actually serves an aerodynamic purpose, creating a zero-lift condition by helping to control how air moves around the vehicle at high speeds.
If you look at the profile of a curvaceous sports car closely, you'll see that they're often shaped like airplane wings. Implications of flying cars aside, at high speeds air moving over the top of the car can end up moving faster than the air passing beneath it. In these conditions, you end up with what is called lift, a physical lightening of the vehicle due to air pressure. In an airplane, this is what you want. In a sports car, this can be fatal since the act of lifting a vehicle reduces the available friction that the tires can exert on the road. Infiniti claims that its aerodynamic additions cancel out lift, increasing the IPL G Coupe's vehicle stability and grip over a standard G37 Coupe.
But otherwise, it's the same ol' G.
Outside of the performance upgrades, the IPL G isn't very much different from the standard G. In fact, outside of the bright-red, 12-way power seats shod in brilliant red leather, you'd be hard-pressed to tell that you're not in the we tested last year. Fortunately, that isn't a bad thing.
Cabin comfort options start with the standard 7-inch information display mounted at the top of the center stack. This gives drivers access to the climate control systems, audio controls for the standard USB/iPod connection, XM Satellite Radio tuner, single-slot CD player, and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. This screen is also where the drive can display the view from the rearview camera, which is also standard.
Normally optional in lesser G37s, the IPL comes standard with the rather loftily named Infiniti Studio on Wheels premium audio system by Bose. This 10-speaker rig performed, to my ear, about like any other Bose-branded audio system that we've tested. It would seem that Bose has tuned much of the boominess out of its car audio systems, as the G's setup produced a very balanced sound. However, strong bass is just two ticks of the bass level away and sound remains essentially distortion-free at most volumes as long as you don't get too far from center with the EQ's settings.
The IPL G Coupe's cabin is a bit loud at highway speeds thanks to the firmer suspension and wheel package, which transmits more than a little road rumble into the cabin, and the louder exhaust, which sort of drones on while cruising. You'll definitely find yourself cranking the stereo to overcome all of the noise. Fortunately, the Bose system is up to the task. Unfortunately, your ears and stress level will be a bit tweaked by the time you're done with it an extended journey.
The 7-inch information display also serves as your window into a HDD-based navigation system which is fed data by the standard XM Satellite Radio receiver, downloading XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather data and advisories silently in the background and using them to inform the system's routing and ETA estimates. The navigation system's 9.3GB hard drive also features space for audio storage. Maps show 3D buildings and landmarks and are attractive and easy to read. However, Infiniti's system does look a bit Fisher-Price when compared with the advanced graphics of BMW's and Audi's navigation systems.
In addition to the touch-screen display, users can also interact with the IPL G's infotainment system via a physical controller that combines a knob and directional pad into one intuitive interaction point or via Infiniti's voice command system which allows users to access the different areas of the interface with spoken commands and dial contacts by name.
The Infiniti IPL G Coupe does what it sets out to do: improve over the performance of the standard G37 Coupe. Unfortunately, Infiniti's first foray into high-performance variants was more of hesitant testing of the waters with a toe than a full-blown cannonball. When you compare an to a , an to a , or even an to an , you find that in most cases these performance variants look, feel, and perform like different cars from the models they're based on. This is not the case with the IPL G Coupe, which ends up feeling more like a model year update to last year's G37S than something special.
The 2012 Infiniti IPL G Coupe starts at 49,800 when equipped with the six-speed manual transmission (or $5,600 more than a fully loaded G37 Sport). Our tester added $1,450 to that price for its seven-speed automatic transmission. For the extra buck, you bump the manual model's 17 city mpg and 25 highway mpg to more respectable 19 city and 27 highway mpg. All in and including a $895 destination fee, our Malbec Black IPL G Coupe rolls off of the lot at $52,345. That's almost $16,000 less than a similarly equipped BMW M3 Coupe... then again, the M car is probably a bit out of the IPL's league.
For all of its premium performance pretenses, the IPL G Coupe actually stacks up closer in performance to a BMW 335is, a car that is still about $7,500 more. Placed on that scale, the Infiniti makes much more sense as pretty good value for the money.