The Infiniti G35 is available in a number of styles, from a sport coupe to a more sedate sedan. Our test car got the best of both worlds, with four doors but also a big red S after the "G35" on the trunk lid denoting the sport version. The sport version of the sedan gets a suspension tuned more for twisty roads than comfortable cruises and the aforementioned six-speed manual transmission. The car announces its high-tech pedigree from the start with its standard smart key. The doors unlock automatically in the presence of the key, and you can start the car by just pushing a button.
The body of the G35 looks thoroughly modern, with raised front fenders and a roofline that curves down almost to the trunk lip. Because the roof extends back so far, the nose looks inordinately long in profile, one of the unique quirks of this car. Another very interesting development is the LCD in the stack. Although we've seen plenty of LCDs in cars, this is the first where the navigation option isn't present. This configuration suggests that Infiniti decided to make the LCD a standard part of the dash no matter which options are ordered.
Without the navigation option, the LCD shows only audio, phone, climate, and car information. Infiniti's standard multifunction knob, a big dial topped by five buttons, sits below the LCD, with big function buttons surrounding it. We like this arrangement and find it easy to use while underway. The car includes buttons for cruise control on the steering wheel's right spoke and audio controls on the left, which mirror the functions of the audio buttons on the center stack around the analog clock. Buttons for the voice command Bluetooth phone system sit below the left spoke.
The premium stereo system in our G35 review car comes from Bose and uses 10 speakers, with 2 in each door, a rear deck-mounted subwoofer, and a center fill speaker in the dash. These speakers produce a nice full sound that isn't biased toward either end of the spectrum. It's a very good system but doesn't give a complete surround-sound effect. Beyond AM and FM, the stereo can play XM satellite radio and has a six-disc in-dash changer that plays WMA- and MP3-formatted music. Even better, RCA jacks hidden in the center console work as an auxiliary audio input. And in one of this car's intriguing tech quirks, a video input sits next to the RCA jacks, so video can be played on the car's LCD.
Infiniti's scheme for selecting satellite radio stations isn't well thought out. The large multifunction dial merely scrolls through presets displayed on the LCD; selecting from all of XM's 200-plus offerings requires turning the smaller tuning knob, located further down the stack. We would also have liked the display to show us which XM stations we were tuning through, but it showed only which station we landed on after twisting the knob. In another audio interface foible, MP3 and WMA CDs can be navigated only from folder to folder, with no ID3 information, such as album or artist, displayed on the search screen. The system will show a static display of ID3 information, but only when a button labeled Text is selected.
The other major cabin tech feature on the G35, the Bluetooth cell phone integration, has its own quirks. Although the LCD shows phone information, none of the buttons around it or on the center stack give access to phone functions. Instead, the whole system is controlled with voice commands, activated by buttons on the steering wheel. The system works well, though, and allowed us to pair multiple phones to the system, each with its own voice tag identifier. The system very successfully recognized the telephone numbers we told it to call, but it didn't automatically copy over our phone address books. Instead, we had to make new address entries for the car using the voice command system. Audio quality with the phone system was good for both incoming and outgoing calls. We also found that volume can be set separately for the stereo system and the voice command system, depending on which is currently active, using the steering wheel volume controls. The separate volume levels, and the ease of setting them, are a very thoughtful feature.