Viewed from just about every angle, the 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe is quite the looker. Smooth lines and sports car proportions combine with optional 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels to create one of the most attractive cars on the road today. Look beneath the G37 Coupe's sheet-metal skin and you'll find a potent 330 horsepower V-6 engine creating one of the best exhaust notes in the business as it feeds power to all four wheels.
Infiniti also gave the G37 Coupe brains to go along with its brawn, making a suite of cabin tech available that includes hard-drive-based navigation with space for music storage, voice command, and iPod integration, among other features.
On the road
The 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe comes to us from the same people who crafted the 2009 Nissan 370Z; and while the vehicles share the same heart--Nissan's VQ-series 3.7-liter V-6 engine--their execution couldn't be more different. The Z is a vehicle with a purity of purpose targeted directly at performance driving. Meanwhile, the G37 makes a few sacrifices to performance in the name of comfort and style.
The G37 shares its engine with the 370Z, but the similarities stop there.
Think of the Z Coupe as an athlete wearing running shoes and track pants and the G37 Coupe as that same athlete in a chic business suit. What you shouldn't do is assume that the athlete can't run because she is suited up. Make no mistake, the G37 Coupe can hustle, even loaded down with power everything and the latest in cabin tech.
For our testing, we primarily left the transmission in Sport mode. Acceleration from a stop comes on strong, pressing the leather seats into the small of your back. The automatic transmission holds the revs almost to the redline when in sport mode, taking full advantage of the 330 horsepower available near the top of the power band.
Braking hard for a turn, the transmission blips the throttle and downshifts. This is an automatic transmission that's smart enough to shift before cornering? We like this even more.
Apex. Throttle. The rear-biased all-wheel drive system allows a little slip and we're able to tuck the nose in as we prepare to exit the turn. If you get too happy with the gas midturn, a little AWD light blinks from the instrument cluster letting you know that the G37's electronic nannies have saved your butt yet again. Let out on the steering and rocket out of the turn, and the V-6 sings through the tuned dual exhaust.
Take the G37 for a freeway ride and it transforms into a grand tourer. Settling onto suspension, the G37 soaks up bumps and expansion joints without losing its composure, transferring a minimal amount of harshness into the cabin. Road noise is also kept to a low din, easily overcome by the Bose audio system. The great exhaust notes become nearly silent, unlike the rather annoying drone of the 370Z at speed.
Indeed, though the Infiniti G37 Coupe and Nissan 370Z Coupe share quite a bit of DNA, they diverge when it comes to purpose. While we don't think the G37 would be at home on a racetrack, it's a quite capable back-road carver with the bonus of being comfortable for the long ride home.
In the cabin
Trimmed in leather and wood, the fit and finish of our G37's cabin rivaled that of BMW 3-series. Every surface we came in contact with felt solid. Optional illuminated doors and keyless entry and start helped to create the feeling that we were being catered to by the vehicle.
Even with the height-adjustable seats set to their lowest position, our taller editors complained of the G37 Coupe's lack of headroom. We all liked the generous amount of shoulder and hip space the wide coupe provided.
Just behind the power-tilt and telescoping steering wheel is an electroluminescent instrument cluster, featuring a monochromatic LCD information display between a large speedometer and tachometer. Like its cousin the Z Coupe, the G37's entire instrument cluster moves with the steering wheel, a boon for tall or short drivers because the steering wheel never blocks the gauges.
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 hard-drive-based navigation features building icons for certain landmarks.
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.