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2008 Infiniti G37 Test Drive

Concentrated wonderfulness

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

By

2008 Infinit G37 front-left view

2008 Infiniti G37

Photo © Aaron Gold

What do the Guide Rating stars mean?

Following hot on the heels of the fantastic G35 Sedan, which was introduced in 2007, comes the second-generation iteration of Infiniti's G coupe, the all-new 2008 Infiniti G37. Imagine a sports-car soul in a luxury-car wrapper with a very reasonable price tag, and, well, that's the G37 Coupe. Base price $34,965, $40,015 as tested, EPA fuel economy estimates 17-18 MPG city, 24-26 MPG highway.

First Glance: Aaron's in love

Larger photos: Front - rear

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am totally, completely, 100% head-over-heels in love with this car. I think the Infiniti G37 is the epitome of motoring wonderfulness. I would advise you to consider that everything I say may well be tainted by the fact that I. Want. One.

And I'm not alone. As part of my test drive, I asked two friends -- both of whom are satisfied G35 Coupe owners -- to try out the G37. Both agreed that as much as they loved their own cars, the G37 was better. Lots better. Better enough that They. Want. One.

Let's start with the outside. The G37 is an all-new design, though it's not that easy to tell it apart from the outgoing G35 Coupe at first glance. Up front, the headlights (link goes to photo) have a new shape and a deeper crease separates the fenders from the hood. The lines on the side of the car have been de-emphasized, giving it a cleaner look. Out back the profile of the trunk has been made a bit more distinct from the rear window and the taillights have been massaged. The new G37 is an absolutely gorgeous car.

The G37 is available in three models: Base, Journey and Sport. Prices start just under $35k, and that includes leather seats with power adjustment for the driver, automatic climate control, push-button keyless ignition, electronic stability control and an automatic transmission (Sport models come exclusively with a 6-speed manual). Add in the G37's incredible acceleration and marvelous road manners, and it's one hell of a deal.

Have I mentioned how much I love this car?

In the Driver's Seat: Good layout but headroom's tight

2008 Infiniti G37 interior left

G37 has a low-slung driving position typical of a sports car, but headroom is a bit lacking for taller drivers

Photo © Aaron Gold

Larger interior photos: left - right

The G37's dashboard is similar to that of the G35 sedan that debuted in 2007. Base and Sport models are trimmed in "Washi Aluminum", which is textured to look like rice paper. Journey models offer African rosewood trim as an extra-cost ($450) option, but it doesn't look nearly as good.

The G37 has exceptionally comfortable seats, with a seat bottom cushion that adjusts for length to give taller drivers good thigh support. But if you're tall enough to have to extend the cushion, you'll want to avoid the optional sunroof -- I'm only 5'6" and even I found headroom a but wanting. The steering column is electrically adjustable, and the instrument pod moves up and down with the wheel -- very cool.

The back seat is tolerable for adults, but I wouldn't want to spend too much time back there. The trunk is miniscule (7.4 cubic feet) and has a small opening, but Infiniti claims you can fit two golf bags in there, and they even have a diagram on the trunk lid to show you how.

Like the G35 sedan, the G37 gets a centrally mounted LCD screen that, on cars without navigation, serves as a menu-driven interface for stereo and climate controls. I abhor these systems; they're just too difficult to use while driving. Luckily, most stereo and A/C functions can be controlled by separate buttons. The navigation system costs $2,200 and includes real-time traffic info, voice recognition (which also works for the climate and stereo controls), and a backup camera (always a good idea in a coupe), so it's a good deal -- buy it and put that LCD screen to good use.

On the Road: Simply fan-friggin'-tastic

While the old G coupe shared its engine with the G sedan, the G37 -- as its new name denotes -- gets its own engine, a 3.7 liter V6 good for 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. That's 50 hp more than the old G35 coupe and 24 hp and 2 lb-ft more than the current G35 sedan. Said power gets to the rear wheels via a 5-speed automatic; the G37 Sport comes with a 6-speed stick. If you're on the fence about which one to get, go for the manual -- the clutch is light and the short-throw shifter is a dream.

Is it fast? Holy hell, is it ever. Pick a gear, any gear; punch the accelerator and you're off like a shot. The biggest problem with high-torque and rear-wheel-drive is wheelspin, and getting the G37 going in the rain requires a light foot; luckily the G has electronics galore to keep the wheels from breaking away.

It's much the same deal on the open road. With all that torque and rear-wheel-drive, a car like the G37 coupe could be an accident waiting to happen -- but the electronic nannies do a brilliant job of keeping you safe. Go in to a corner too fast and the computers work it all out, braking individual wheels and adjusting power to keep you on the right path. You almost can't lose control in this car -- and yet the system is remarkably unobtrusive. (I imagine there's lots of tire-smoking, fish-tailing fun to be had with the stability control system turned off, but I wasn't brave enough to try it.) But here's the real beauty of the G: When you're not playing, the G37 coupe provides a wonderfully smooth and compliant ride.

Journey's End: Nothing like it -- and nothing quite so good

2008 Infiniti G37 rear view

Out back, the G37 features reshaped taillights; trunk spoiler is a $550 option

Photo © Aaron Gold

The Infiniti G37 is hands-down one of the best sport coupes I've ever driven. It looks great, goes fast, and actively works to keep you safe. And it's a good deal price-wise, too.

But the G37 wouldn't be much of a sports coupe if it wasn't sporty, and I simply can't say enough good things about how well it drives. The steering is fantastic, with excellent feel and razor-sharp responses. (And I didn't even get to try the four-wheel active steering system, which should sharpen up the G37's responses even more.) My G35-owning friends agreed: Compared to old G, the new G37 is faster, better handling, and has a smoother ride.

It's hard to find cars to compare against the G37 because there's nothing quite like it. The BMW 3-series coupe is more practical but not as handsome, and while it's tough to beat the excitement of the 335i's twin turbochargers, the G37 comes pretty darn close. And though I'm sure saying this will earn me a few nasty emails, I think the G37 is more fun to drive.

Mercedes' CLK coupe has more image but is nowhere near as thrilling, and while I haven't yet tried Audi's new A5, I'm sure it'll be very competent but not quite as much fun. If you're more concerned with looks than driver appeal, consider the Nissan Altima coupe -- it's handsome and more manageable than the G in rain and snow.

Bottom line: The Infiniti G37 is a true 5-star car -- by my own definition, it "blows away the competition and sets new standards for its segment." Can you blame me for falling in love? -- Aaron Gold

Next page: What I liked, what I didn't, who should buy it and specs

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