Seattle, Washington --
Maybe it's age, but a few years back, I used to favour sports cars that had a more brutal nature. Now, I'm realizing that I prefer more refined and comfortable performance. However, I still don't tolerate any sort of compromise.
This newfound spirit is what dictated my analysis when I got the opportunity to take the wheel of the all-new Infiniti G37 coupe on the American west coast roads. It was a stroll down a sinuous stretch of pavement that makes us appreciate the finesse of this premium Japanese two-door, but a course that also allowed us to put the car's new powertrain to its paces, which is much smoother.
This entirely revamped version of Infiniti's popular G shares only its name and FM platform with the sedan, and those underpinnings also serve for the Altima Coupe. All other components have been modified, even the powertrain that now gets a 3.7-litre engine; hence the name designation change, which you've probably guessed already.
This ultramodern engine is in fact a renewed application of the legendary 3.5-litre mill that has been happily powering Infiniti and Nissan models over the years. This time, in addition to increasing its displacement, horsepower has also been seriously increased: 330 ponies compared to 275 in the previous generation.
Another novelty is the V-VEL system, which stands for Variable Valve Event and Lift. It's a technology that gathers both changes in intake and lift cycles, and which contributes in making the engine cleaner while increasing power. It also helps to keep torque at its 270-lb-ft peak.
A modern engine
Basically, V-VEL uses a camshaft that's linked to a rotary shaft who's task consists of managing the height and rotation speed of the main shaft. A little technical, no doubt, but it applies to both the intake and the exhaust gas output, and allows a 40% decrease in harmful emissions while improving fuel economy by 10%.
And for those who are worried, know that the entire herd of horses are liberated as soon as one touches the gas pedal. If we insist sufficiently, those ponies literally lose their patience and allow the Infiniti G37 to jump off the starting blocks with enthusiasm.
|The powerful engine can be coupled to a 6-speed manual gearbox.|
The presence of an ultra-precise 6-speed manual transmission obviously contributes to the fun. However, the 5-speed automatic has nothing to envy its counterpart about. A complex algorithm allows it to adapt to the pilot's driving habits, and a Sport mode helps in exploiting the car's maximum performance. In manumatic mode, paddle shifters located right behind the wheel can be used. And, gladly, the gearbox will make you feel like an F1 pilot, blipping the throttle by itself to match revs while downshifting.
And the steering, tested on the NŁrburgring circuit in Germany, gives the impression of being in absolute control while efficiently transmitting every sensation of the road.
At first glance, even if the car is totally redesigned (not one part of the previous generation was spared), the new G37 coupe keeps its Infiniti personality.
Wave lines sculpted in the hood reinforce the car's character, and the more-modern grille gets its fair share of newness, but it continues to highlight the premium Japanese brand. Slightly longer and larger, by 22 and 7 millimetres respectively, the car's wheelbase is unchanged. The extra space gathered up is dedicated to the cockpit, for improved comfort.
|Sport Package adds, amongst other things, a spoiler, 19-inch alloy wheels and unique side sills.|
Luxury and sensuality
Being part of the luxury sport coupe category, the Infiniti G37 counts on a plethora of accessories and high-grade components. The interior finish is without reproach, and the design of the cockpit gives the impression of enveloping its pilot in a cocoon.
The seats offer support that is more than acceptable, and are easy to adjust, despite the need of a few minutes to find an ideal driving position.
|The assembly of the dashboard is without a flaw.|
As for the rest, it's what one would expect from a car of this type of segment, including a satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and a high-performance, satellite radio-ready Bose sound system.
Few trim levels
The choice of Infiniti G37 versions is pretty simple and varies from the base Premium to the manual or automatic Sport model. The Sport also gets high-tech (including GPS) and four-wheel steering option packages, the latter said to be capable of improving the directional changes of the car; we'll have to wait until the model arrives in Canada in a few weeks to try that out.
I wasn't a big fan of the old G35, but I have to admit that I now have to revise my opinion. With its improvements, the new Infiniti G37 is capable of rivalling, if not surpassing in agility, driving pleasure and performance, those little German coupes that are currently dominating the market.
Efficient automatic transmission
Complex navigation system
Driving position takes time to find