By Brendan Moore
Timing is everything in life, and I have had the good fortune to have spent a week with the redesigned 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe after also recently spending the same amount of time with its BMW performance target.
Wait, it gets better.
Earlier this week, I was able to do actual track time in both the 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe and the 2008 BMW 335i Coupe, back-to-back, and under perfect weather conditions. Neither Infiniti or BMW ran the track event, so there was no stacking of the deck in terms of the track layout.
If only auto journalists made a lot of money, this would be a perfect job. Really, it would be a perfect job if we just made an average amount of money, but since all the people at the bank point at me and laugh whenever I come in, it probably goes without saying that it’s mostly a labor of love.
Let’s get the track impressions out of the way first.
I drove the automatic versions in both cars; the G37 has a five-speed auto-box and the 335i offers a six-speed automatic transmission. Both cars offer the driver the option of using paddle shifters on the steering wheel to go through the gears manually.
The 3.7 liter, 330 horsepower V6 in the G37 Coupe is a wonderful engine and showcases Nissan’s first use of their VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology in a production car. VVEL makes a conventional throttle butterfly valve superfluous (just like BMW’s Valvetronic technology) and gives the 3.7 liter a flatter torque curve than the 3.5 it replaced in the G35 Coupe. The result is more horsepower, natch, as well as more immediate throttle response. It was a lot of fun howling (literally and figuratively) around the track, using the horsepower of the G37 to help steer the car though corners with tail-wagging slides. The BMW 3.0 liter, 300 horsepoer 335i Coupe felt a little faster, but that wasn’t because the Infiniti’s engine wasn’t holding up its end; it was because the justifiably famous BMW chassis and suspension was more communicative and precise than the Infiniti’s. This, despite the fact that the G37 chassis and suspension is a huge improvement over the G35’s, with increases in stiffness, braking ability, track width, and, a lower polar inertia. It’s oh-so-close to the BMW now, but still not there.
I was just about delirious with happiness by the time I had finished flailing both cars around the track. My driving skills are not at a professional level, but I was able to work both cars hard enough to determine that Infiniti has taken a large step forward with the G37 Coupe, as compared to the G35 Coupe, and in doing so, has now almost equaled the BMW 335i Coupe, the segment standard of excellence.
There is, however, the matter of price. There is also the matter of looks.
The 2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe starts at an MSRP of $34,900 USD. The 2008 BMW 335i Coupe starts at an MSRP of $41,200 USD. As you add options on both cars, the price differential grows larger. The Infiniti G37 Coupe has at least 95% of the performance of the BMW, but from a price perspective, it’s less than 80% of the price.
Looks. I think the G37 Coupe is the equal of the 335i inside, and more attractive outside. This comes from a guy who has owned seven BMWs – its safe to say that I am a fan of the blue and white roundel.
What is the Infiniti G37 Coupe like to live with for a normal week, not burning up the track, but traveling to the office and back, a long jaunt on the weekend, etc.? Well, it’s very nice, thank you. As I noted above, the interior is a nice place to spend time and, I didn’t mention it before, but it is very much improved in every way from the G35.
My loaner had the full complement of audio gear (with satellite radio) and navigation equipment, leather, etc. The G37 is docile around town and is quiet as long as you’re not caning it along. Plenty of room up front, and not very much in the back, which is standard operating procedure for coupes this size.
Here’s the rundown from a standard equipment perspective:
330-hp 3.7-liter (3,696 cc) DOHC VVEL V6 engine
Dual air intake and exhaust
Vehicle-speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering
4-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake force Distribution, and Brake Assist
Independent aluminum-alloy double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension
Front and rear stabilizer bars
Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition
Automatic Temperature Control system with microfiltration
Rear-seat heater ducts under front seats
Power windows with illuminated switches and front-window one-touch auto-up/down and safety auto-reverse feature
Remote power door locks, trunk release and window opening via Intelligent Key
Retained accessory power for windows and moonroof (if equipped)
Illuminated entry system with delayed fade-out
Front sun visors with extensions and illuminated vanity mirrors
Overhead sunglasses storage
Dual overhead front map lights
Front seatback map pockets
Dual front and rear cup holders and front door bottle holders
Front armrest with storage compartment, 12-volt power outlet and auxiliary audio input jack
Folding rear seatback with trunk pass-through
Front and rear carpeted floor mats
Aluminum door-sill plates
Cargo net tie-down anchors in trunk
Leather-appointed, 8-way power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support; 4-way power passenger’s seat
Washi-finish aluminum interior trim
Leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel with cruise control and audio system controls
Aluminum and leather-appointed shift knob
Six-speaker audio system with AM/FM radio, CD player with MP3 playback capability, Radio Data System (RDS) and auxiliary audio input jack
XM® Satellite Radio
Dual in-glass diversity antennas. The radio tuner compares the signal strength of both antennas, and automatically selects the strongest signal.
Fine Vision electroluminescent instrumentation
Manual tilt and telescoping steering column synchronizes gauge cluster with column for improved vision.
Infiniti Controller with 7-inch display for audio, climate control, fuel economy, maintenance reminders and comfort and convenience systems
Multi-function trip computer with fuel mileage range and outside temperature display
Cruise control with illuminated steering wheel-mounted switches
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
Infiniti analog clock
Comprehensive airflow management, with underbody sculpting, for low 0.30 coefficient of drag (Cd) and zero-lift front aerodynamics ( zero-lift front and rear aerodynamics with optional rear spoiler)
Aluminum hood with gas struts to hold hood open
High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-xenon headlights
Integrated front fog lights
LED taillights and center high-mounted stoplight (CHMSL) offer quicker illumination, lower power consumption, and longer life than conventional bulbs.
UV-reducing tinted glass reduces transmission of radiant heat to vehicle’s interior.
Dual, power outside mirrors
Speed-sensing flat-blade wipers increase intermittent wipes as vehicle speed increases.
Rear window defroster with indicator light and timer
Dual chrome exhaust finishers
Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD)
Brake Assist (BA)
4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC)
Traction Control System (TCS)
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Of couse, the G37 Coupe also has safety stuff a-plenty, with the obligatory airbags everywhere, head restraints, etc.
Infiniti has a winner in this new-generation G-Series coupe. Is it the equal of the BMW 335i? Not on the track, although its awfully damn close. And how many people are going to actually require that level of performance from their car off a track? Although if absolute, all-out performance is paramount for you, the BMW does have a very slight edge over the Infiniti. Factor in price and looks in the buying decision, though, and Infiniti is going to attract a lot of buyers in this segment. From our perspective, Infiniti deserves those customers, because the new G37 is a fine car, worthy of anyone’s consideration.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved