2007 Infiniti G35
With its pronounced front fenders, six-speed manual, and luxury interior, the 2007 Infiniti G35 sport sedan makes us feel like donning black driving gloves and running contraband across Europe. While its driving performance is unquestionable, this car has some really odd quirks in its cabin electronics. We can live with using only voice commands for our phones, but the car makes selecting satellite radio stations tedious.
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 G35's CD changer reads WMA files; artist and album information is available only on a separate screen, by hitting the Text button.
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 voice recognition for cell phones is good at understanding commands, but there is no button control for the phone system.
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.
As we mentioned before, our car didn't come with the navigation option. Infiniti's navigation system for its 2007 models uses a hard disk to store maps and navigation data. Additional space on the hard drive is available to store music, which can be ripped from CDs inserted into the system.
Handling is supreme
But this car is tilted toward a lot more than making phone calls and listening to good quality audio, as evidenced by the sporty manual gearshift at the bottom of the stack. Rear-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission, and a 3.5-liter V-6 making 306 horsepower at 6,800rpm make up a powerful drive train that can encourage some seriously bad behavior. The G35 takes off fast from a stop, and its precisely shifting transmission will encourage drivers to maintain acceleration all the way to sixth gear.
Something about having a manual transmission in a sedan made us really want to push this car, and its handling on windy mountain roads didn't let us down. With its luxury interior, it was comfortable enough sitting in traffic, but the G35 is really in its element during sport driving.
Even while monitoring the fuel economy screen, we couldn't get the average mileage over 20mpg.
Unfortunately, this is not an economical engine. One handy screen on the LCD shows fuel economy, instantaneously and over time. The only times we could keep the mileage consistently over 20mpg was by going downhill. Even in sixth gear on the freeway we couldn't keep it over 20mpg. The EPA rating for the manual-transmission G35 is 19mpg city and 27mpg on the highway, but our overall observed economy was 16.4mpg.
Traction control steps in
The G35 includes full airbag coverage standard, with front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags for the entire cabin. Along with its antilock brakes, the G35 has the usual roadholding suspects, such as traction control and electronic brake-force distribution. During hard cornering, a light on the dashboard will indicate the traction control is active, a satisfying reminder that the car is helping out.
High-intensity discharge headlights are standard on the G35, and an adaptive headlight system is available. The taillights use LEDs. The car also includes some niceties to help the driver while adjusting the seating position. The side mirrors automatically move when the power-adjustable seat is moved to stay in the proper position. The instrument cluster also moves in sync with the power-adjustable steering wheel when it is moved up or down.
The base price for the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sedan with a manual transmission is $32,250. Our test car also came with the Premium package ($2,350), which included such things as the Bose stereo, sunroof, and the power-adjustable steering wheel. With the package, our test car's final price was $34,600, a very good value for a sporty sedan.
Whenever we got the opportunity, we were out test-driving the 2007 Infiniti G35, which attests to how much we liked this car. Except for the less than stellar mileage, the power train is extremely satisfying. Handling is very good, and interior comfort is top-notch. Ours didn't come equipped with navigation, but it is available. Sound quality is also very good, and the Bluetooth integration works well. Each system has its odd quirks, but overall, the G35 is highly desirable.