2012 Infiniti G37 Coupe

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Here’s an example of the importance of cross-shopping:

The 2012 Infiniti G37 coupe – rear-wheel-drive, standard 330 hp V-6, seven-speed transmission and 0-60 in 5.6 seconds – starts at $37,800. For about the same money you could buy a Mercedes C250 ($37,220) and take home four cylinders, 201 hp and 0-60 in 7.4 seconds.

Another potential G37 rival, the Audi A5 coupe, also starts in the same ballpark ($37,100) and like the $37k Benz C-coupe, it is powered by a four-cylinder engine (211 hp). And unlike the C-coupe, which can be bumped up to a 302 hp V-6 (if you pony up $42,370 for the C350) there’s no underhood upgrade available with the Audi.

Or, for a bit more than G money, there’s the BMW 3-Series coupe. But $38,700 – the MSRP of a new 328i coupe – won’t buy you a V-6 here, either. What you will get is a 2.0 liter turbo four and 240 hp. To get 300 hp in the BMW, you’ve got to spend over $45k to get the 335i – and even then, you’re still 30 hp shy of what the Infiniti G comes standard with.

For about $7,300 less.

A Lexus IS250 retractable hardtop coupe starts at $41,190 – and comes standard with a 2.5 liter, 204 hp V-6 and an embarrasing (for a $40k car) 8.4 second 0-60 time.

Of course, power/performance – and even price – aren’t the sole considerations when considering which luxury sport coupe to buy.

But the G comes out of the gate looking pretty strong.

WHAT IT IS

The G37 is a mid-sized, two-plus-two luxury sport coupe/retractable hardtop convertible based on the G37 sedan. It is available with either rear-drive or AWD. A standard trim RWD hardtop coupe lists for $37,800. An AWD-equipped G37x starts at $40,900.

The retractable hardtop model starts at $46,650.

An even higher-performance IPL package (348 hp) is available with the hardtop – and later this year, also with the retractable hardtop convertible. Base price for the IPL coupe is $49,800. The MSRP for the IPL retractable hardtop wasn’t available at the time of this review.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2012

The IPL – Infiniti Performance Line – package that’s currently available with coupes will soon be available with retractable hardtop Gs, too.

WHAT’S GOOD

Superb – and superbly powerful – standard V-6 destroys the standard fours (and some sixes) in competitor models.

Outstanding seven-speed automatic transmission – with rev-matched downshifts.

Optional AWD doesn’t impose a weight (or performance) penalty.

Lower profile lets you get away with using the thing.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Headroom can be tight for taller drivers in coupe with optional sunroof (included with Premium package).

Manual transmission (six speed) only offered in higher-priced Sport trim ($44,200) and not with AWD.

Not as recognizably high-end as a Mercedes C coupe, BMW 3 or Audi A5.

UNDER THE HOOD

The G coupe comes standard with a powerhouse 3.7 liter V-6 that produces 330 hp – massively outgunning the standard fours in the Mercedes C (201 hp), Audi A5 (211 hp) and BMW 3 (240 hp). The gaping gulf relative to the comparably priced Benz and Audi is almost unbelievable – more than 110 hp.

So also the performance gulf.

The G gets to 60 in about 5.5-5.6 seconds with either transmission (RWD and IPL models being just slightly quicker). The Benz C250 does the run almost two full seconds slower – 7.4 seconds, or Toyota Camry territory. Four cylinder Camry territory.The Lexus IS250 is even slower – slower, in fact, than some current $17k economy compacts.

The Audi does better: zero to 60 in 6.3 seconds. Quick enough to not be embarrassed by a Camry – but still far behind the G. The price-equivalent BMW 328i does ok, too – about six seconds on the nose. But it can’t match the G, either. In fact, to get G-equivalent acceleration out of the BMW, you will need to move all the way up to the $45,100 335i – and even then, it’s a dead heat. The 335i gets to 60 in 5.4 seconds – maybe a tenth of a second or two better than the G.

The standard transmission in the G37 is a seven-speed automatic with manual mode (controlled by real magnesium paddle shifters) and rev-matching downshifts. A six-speed manual is available, too – but only in Sport versions and not with AWD.

Gas mileage for the RWD coupe with the seven-speed automatic is 19 city, 27 highway. With AWD, this drops slightly to 18 city, 25 highway.

Some dissection: BMW (and Mercedes and Audi) tout the mileage of their four-cylinder engines. The BMW 3’s 2.0 liter turbo four, as an example, delivers 24 city, 36 highway – which is excellent. Especially the highway number, which is about 10 MPG better than the G’s.

But at this price point, which is of more relevance to buyers? Gas mileage? Or the prestige (and performance) of a 330 V-6 vs. a 200-something hp four? The truth is that BMW and the others have turned on to fours in order to satisfy the government more so than buyers. Looming Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which will require each car manufacturer’s entire model lineup to average 35.5 MPG by model year 2016 or eat (or pass on to consumers) massive “gas guzzler” fines.

Thus, turbo fours. They deliver almost V-6 performance and nearly economy car gas mileage. The G’s V-6 – and other V-6 (and V-8) performance car engines – are either going to be phased out. Or they are going get a lot more expensive.

Enjoy it while you still can.

ON THE ROAD

The G is a smooth operator – and I don’t just mean the ride (which is that, too). This is a car for swift – but under-the-radar – travel. It is one of the quickest luxury-sport cars you can buy for less than $40k but it doesn’t have the cop-bait flash of a BMW (an established offender – in the eyes of many ossifers, at least) or a Benz C-coupe

Get one in gun metal gray like my test car – or some other dark color – and you’ve got the highway-hauling equivalent of an F-117 stealth fighter. Because avoiding notice is the first step in avoiding the consequences of being noticed. And in a hustler like the G, that is key. Because it moves out – and thus, you’ll want to make use of that ability, often. Without needing, as Warren Zevon once put it, lawyers guns and money.

An interesting – and appealing – aspect of the G’s personality is that the AWD-equipped versions behave very much like RWD performance cars – even to the extent of allowing the back tires to spin a little bit when launching hard. And because of the huge horsepower advantage relative to competitors like the C250 and A5 (and even the BMW 3) not only can you power into corners, you can power out of them.

And if you want to, power slide through them.

This car is Big Fun to drive. Order the optional Sport package for the maximum experience. It includes 19 inch wheels with ultra-low-profile summer tires, upgraded brakes (four piston calipers up front, dual piston calipers for the back), “zero lift” body kit including lowered chin spoiler, viscous-coupled limited slip differential, a firmer-riding suspension, aluminum pedals and specially bolstered 12-way adjustable (driver) sport bucket seats. The package only costs $1,900 – cheap, given all you get.

The optional AWD system also gives you a two-fer: It is an enhancement on dry roads when running fast – and also makes the car usable in winter, on snow-covered roads. Be advised, however, to have a spare set of all-season tires on hand for winter driving. The high-performance “summer” tires aren’t called that for no reason. AWD or not, if you head out with those tires when it’s snowing, you’re not likely to get very far. And may end up someplace you don’t want to be.

AT THE CURB

This car doesn’t call excessive attention to itself. A plus – or a minus – depending on what you’re after. If you’re mostly interested in image – in being seen – then a Benz C coupe or Audi A5 will probably suit you better.

The G has fluid styling and nice proportions, but it’s not a flashy car.  It is the kind of car that a serious driver will appreciate – because it lets you get away with things that would be harder to get away with in something with a known rep or the visual cues that seem to draw the attention of cops.

Other stuff: The available retractable hardtop gives you the option of topless motoring on nice days but the physical security of a hard top on not-so-nice days (and in not-so-nice neighborhoods). The potential downside is down-the-road costs associated with the complex folding top mechanism.

One issue with the G coupe is headroom. If you’re taller (over six feet 1 or so) you may have to cant yourself to the right a bit – or scrunch down in the seat – to avoid having your head rubbing up against the ceiling. You can make things better by not ordering the optional sunroof – which cuts the available headroom down by about an inch. Unfortunately, if you skip the sunroof, you’ll have to skip the power tilt-telescoping wheel and the Bose stereo upgrade – which are bundled together with the sunroof as part of the Premium package.

Other reviewers have commented about Infiniti’s package structuring – having to buy a bunch of things to get the one thing you want, or having to buy the preceding package to get the next package. It’d be nice if you could buy at least some of these items a la carte. Or skip a few items (like the sunroof) the same way. I, for instance, could not own this car with the sunroof because of my height (6ft 3) and the headroom issue. But I’d probably want to buy the Bose 11-speaker stereo.

Trunk space – just 7.4 cubes– is minimal. But you do have those back seats, so the G can carry more stuff than a two-seater like its cousin the Nissan 370-Z

THE REST

There’s another important thing to know about the G – about all current Infinitis: They are among the least (no, they are the least) nannyish new vehicles you can buy. For example, they do not have a “belt-minder” buzzer. If you elect not to buckle-up, the car doesn’t hassle you. A red “seat belt” icon illuminates on the dash – and that’s all. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think Infiniti is the last holdout – the only major automaker that doesn’t include the belt-buzzer and which thus holds to the heresy that buckling up (or not) is really your business, not theirs.

No DRLs, either (Audi has ’em, so do more and more of the others). And while there are a number of “safety” features, including the usual suspects – traction and stability control, available adaptive cruise control, etc. – none of them are obstreperously intrusive. The traction/stability control system, for example, has a higher-than-typical threshold before it cuts in – and if you want to cut it off, you can do so merely by pushing the Trac button. Once. Not twice. Not hold it for awhile to partially deactivate.

Just once – and it’s off.

As with the G’s screw-CAFE 330 hp V-6, the minimalist emphasis on “safety” is a testament to Infiniti’s driver-minded attitude. You know, the way BMW used to be.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Value probably isn’t the number-one consideration for people shopping lux-sport sedans, but there’s no reason not to be happy about the G’s modest (for a car like this) price tag, in view of all you get – and don’t get in other cars that cost more.

Throw it in the Woods?

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I am currently driving a 2011 Infiniti G37 IPL coupe and like it very much. My previous car was a 2007 Corvette Z07, but it was getting too expensive to maintain ($4k for a set of tires every 20k miles is a bit much). Also, for reference, I drove a 2003 G35 Coupe for several years before the Z06 and very much enjoyed it as well.

    Here’s my likes and dislikes.

    Pros:
    – Styling is fantastic. It is one of the best looking sporty cars on the road, in my opinion, and I get far more compliments on it than I ever did with the Corvette (which was a lot in its own right). If you’re fishing for compliments, this will do a fine job.
    – Ride comfort is excellent, even in the IPL. There is little to no body roll, but it handles the bumps in the road exceptionally well, and not just for a sports car. It’s more comfortable than my Denali.
    – Six-speed manual is slick and smooth. I wish it was gated, but otherwise it’s quite a lot of fun to row the gears in this short throw setup. Clutch take up is a dream come true. This is, admittedly from my limited experience, the best manual setup I’ve ever driven.
    – Handling is far better than I thought it would be. In an absolute sense, the Z06 handles better, but to achieve that, you have to have glass-smooth asphalt. In the real world, where mid-corner potholes and corrugations and bumps abound, the Corvette will skip across the top and lose almost all traction. At the speeds you’re pushing to really enjoy that car, you have only a split second to react. You may think you’re a good driver, but it really does require racer or fighter pilot reflexes. Don’t kid yourself. Only a fraction of a percentage of humans have such skills naturally and most professionals have to hone them through lots of practice that you won’t get driving to and from work down the freeway. The G37 is FAR more forgiving and much easier to drive fast than a Corvette. In fact, I can guarantee you that 99% of folks will be much faster in a G37 Coupe through the twisties than they would in a Corvette. More on that in a minute.
    – Fantastic road trip car for one or two people. This thing is comfortable. I’d rather drive cross-country in this than in a Rolls Royce (or Cadillac, to be realistic). Even driving conservatively, it’s difficult to get the EPA rated highway mileage (I tended to get 23-24mpg on my 5,000 mile trip), but as someone said, this car isn’t so much about mpg as it is about other factors.

    Cons:
    – Poorly packaged regarding space. The trunk is very small (though the rear seat folds flat). The back seats lack headroom (worse than the G35). The front seats are tight on headroom somewhat as well. I am 6’3″ and I sit with the seat all the way down. I do have a sunroof. I fit fine, but if I were 6’5″, I wouldn’t. I cannot easily wear a helmet while in the car without tilting my head to the side AND leaning the seat back uncomfortably far back. It’s more than a little disappointing to park alongside a compact car with 4 doors and a hatchback and the other car is shorter than yours and only marginally taller but can seat 4 and carry cargo. Again, though. That’s not what this car is about.
    – Power delivery is anemic at low RPM. The engine doesn’t wake up until around 3500-4000 RPM. That means that high revving sport driving is a blast. However, when you’re at a stop sign or light (or at the start line of an SCCA style race track), getting a good launch can be difficult. If you’re in traffic, it’s even harder to do a nice, smooth, moderately fast takeoff without making the engine sound like you’re drag racing (i.e., garnering too much attention from the local donut eaters) or bogging it off the line and getting passed by grandma in her Buick while looking the fool.
    – Visibility is not good. It never is in a sports car. It’s no worse than the Corvette, but that’s not good. Since you sit “down in” the car, with a high belt line, you cannot see much of the parking lot up close to your car. You cannot judge the lines when parking, curbs (that you don’t want to hit with your rims), etc. The backup camera does not help this much when reversing, as it’s even harder to back up straight with the camera than it is just using the mirrors. It would help if there was a backup position for the outside mirrors that angled more down so you could see the parking spot a little better, but no go. It’s a price you pay to drive a sports car.
    – No faster than my old G35. This has to do with the fact that it’s put on about 500 lbs since I was driving the older model. This completely destroys the large power advantage this car has over the G35 I had (around 70 hp gain).
    – Mushy brakes. Yes, compared to the Z06 the brakes are numb and soft, but they also are compared to the G35 I drove. This is the least sporting aspect of this car, and is bad enough that I will likely get the performance brake pads put on to see if they improve things any. The brakes DO have power, but they have to be depressed way too far to get that, and the first 2/3 of the pedal travel, where you will spend most of your time, seems far too soft. The last 1/3 is numb but powerful.
    – Quite possibly the world’s most intrusive stability control system. Thankfully, it’s a simple button press to disable it, but you have to disable it every time you start the car. I wish there were a preference setting that would let me keep it disabled and enable it only when I want to (e.g., rain). I suspect that would be illegal, since you are mandated to use all safety equipment available in the car at all times and to disable something semi-permanently would be unforgivable, apparently.

    As I alluded to, I took this car out for a local car club SCCA-style autocross within a month of buying it (shh, don’t tell Infiniti). I was up against the typical Camaro, Mustang, Corvette lineup along with a few special-built setups. On the tight course in the parking lot set up with cones, the G37, even with me (two left feet) driving, was vastly faster than any Camaro or Mustang out there except one custom-built 1980s era Camaro. It was also faster than all Corvettes except for 3 that were driven by expert (SCCA national championship level) drivers with special setups. I suspect this has more to do with the generally smaller size/footprint that this car has. It’s not as wide as the Corvettes, not as wide, long, or tall as the pony cars, and its excess weight didn’t hurt it as much because of the relatively low speeds.

    One last thing. My Infiniti G37 DOES have the seat belt reminder alarm upon initial startup. It’s fairly quiet (would be easy to miss, thank goodness) and brief (only about 5 seconds or less, it seems), but definitely present. This was also true of a 2012 G37 convertible that I test drove. Same exact alarm. It’s also true of several late model (2010-2012) Nissans that I have driven/ridden in. It’s something that your regular mentioning of it has made me watch for. As far as I can tell, none of them have subsequent reminders a couple of minutes down the road if you still haven’t fastened your seatbelt.

    It IS soft enough that you could miss it if your hearing is going. (I’m kidding, EP. Kidding!)

    • Excellent stuff, SJ – I agree with your assessment. On brakes: The G I tested had the optional Sport package, which includes upgraded brakes (calipers, etc.). I wasn’t able to get in any track time, but I do have an informal test loop I do that includes a descending/ascending series of alternatingly tight radius and sweeper-type s-turns. The descending portion (about two miles) will give the brakes of any car a good workout if you’re moving at a decent clip. The G’s brakes had good bite – and good feel. Not the best I’ve ever sampled, but that’s a very high standard.

      Interesting on the belt minder thing.

      I promise mine didn’t beep – and my hearing is excellent (ask my wife!). It’s possible, I suppose, that Nissan turns off the system on all the press vehicles. Even so, if yours only beeps at you once, or briefly, then turns off, that’s still something none of the other cars on the market will do for you. Some of the worst offenders are Ford and Toyota and GM, all of which have extremely abrasive, obnoxious and relentless buzzers that assault you immediately – even if the car is hardly moving – but never shut up (unless you’ve given in and “buckled up for safety”). I just buckle the belt before I sit down – and sit on top of the SOB!

    • if brakes feel mushy i recommend goodridge braided lines ($150 and a good bleeding) which i put on every car that even has a chance of going to the track, thos along with upgraded pads should improve it greatly.
      my buddy just bought the AWD sedan version adn I can’t wait to get a ride in it.
      turbo’d and sc’d 4’s are great but there is something about a v8 that speaks to people.
      check out mad scientist Paul Woods mark 1 v8 powered MR2
      http://www.woodsport.org/joomla/index.php/engine-conversions/51-v8/28-v8-conversions.html
      here is a video of it
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwZLbNwc7_U

  2. Yes, the G37 Coupe is a great value in its class. But luxury sport coupes are basically “image cars.” So the Infinity’s superior performance is probably a lesser priority to these buyers than the competitors “European” aura.

    For those of us not into luxury sport coupes, a V-8 Mustang or Camaro offers much greater performance bang for the buck. The G37’s relatively low profile and high mpg are the only ways it could claim an advantage over these Americans.

    This G37 falls into that small class of cars that I like, but even if price were not a consideration, would never, ever buy.

  3. Turbo-fours are replacing V6’s just like powerful V6’s replaced V8’s. I miss the exhaust and intake symphonies.

    Retractable hardtop convertible options in this class are also available on the BMW 3-series and the Lexus IS. In fact, the 2-door flavor of the IS is available _only_ as a convertible.

    • Yup –

      On the low end, too. For example, the new twin turbo Chevy Cruze. And in trucks (F-150).

      My main issue, aside with the down-rated performance, is the almost-certain-to-be-higher maintenance and repair costs. Imagine owning a ten-year-old F-truck that needs a new turbo….

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