That's all I can say after spending a week with the new Infiniti G35, Infiniti's new entry-level rear-wheel-drive sedan.
For too many years, Nissan's performance image, which revolved around its legendary Z-car, was dimmed as Nissan fielded one mediocre product after another. While this was going on, the public relations machine was pumped, promising good things to come.
I've heard that line before.
But this time, the PR machine was right. With the G35, Nissan has a sedan that competes with the best in class BMW 3-Series, while having a style and feel of its own.
The new G35 uses the same 3.5-liter all-aluminum DOHC V-6 engine employed in the Altima and Maxima, but tuned for 260 horsepower, slightly more than its Nissan stablemates. This is a glorious engine — one of the world's finest — with gobs of power no matter where you are in the rev-range. Off-the-line, around town or on the highway, there's always tremendous power waiting to be enjoyed. Nissan's V-6 uses variable valve timing to enhance its road-burning performance.
The G35's five-speed automatic is a willing accomplice to the engine, allowing the tires to chirp off-the-line just enough to make things fun. It also has a manual shifting mode, although it's not really necessary. A 6-speed manual will become available in February. Now that should be really fun.
The platform of the G35 will be shared with the Nissan Z350 sports car and Infiniti G35 coupe. This stiff platform was designed for mounting the V-6 behind the front axle. This helps distribute weight evenly front-to-rear, enhancing the car's balance.
A sports suspension is optional and includes 215/55R17 performance tires. The suspension is fully independent. Electronic
drivetrain enhancements include Vehicle Dynamic Control, which helps keep the car planted to the road during performance maneuvers, as well as anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution, which ensures you are braking hard enough during panic stops.
The driving experience will make any enthusiast smile. Aside from sheer power, this car's overall handling is quite good. Body roll is non-existent; turn-in is sharp and precise. Braking is quick and effective. Ride quality is a deft balance between comfort and handling.
My only concern is that the brakes grabbed a bit during initial application. The throttle also seemed a little sensitive as well during initial tip-in. It required a gentle touch to drive smoothly.
The car's styling reinforces the performance message. For the first time, Infiniti has a unique styling direction. The low, flat hood, simple horizontal grille and vertically-oriented headlamps give the front a memorable visual identity. That goes for the rear as well, with its slab-sided trunk and geometric lights.
The interior marries well with the exterior's modern style. The design has a fresh feel, without appearing trendy or gimmicky. The lines are clean and functional.
The instrument cluster is large and tilts along with the steering wheel. The steering wheel itself has cruise controls and redundant audio controls on the face of the wheel, where they are easy to use. The audio and climate controls in the center of the dash are housed in a squared-off stack that contrasts with the vertically rotating air vents. Wood is used sparingly and tastefully inside the cabin.
The front bucket seats are firm and supportive, but they might feel narrow to some. Seat controls are mounted by the center console, where they are easy to reach and operate. Rear seats are comfortably high and spacious, but the seatback is too reclined to be comfortable. Headrests are provided.
Cargo capacity is surprisingly good for a mid-size, rear-drive automobile.
The Bose audio system is a model of crisp sound. The optional navigation system was typical of the breed providing few local roads. But the display drops out of the way so as not to become a distraction. More distracting is the orange-colored lighting used on the G35's controls. It seems out of place in this car.
Prices start at $27,100. That's not a lot when compared to its competition in the entry-level, luxury car market. Our tester, a G35 Leather model starts at $29,495. The Leather model includes 10-way power driver's seat, leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual illuminated visor, vanity mirrors, 215/55R17 all-season tires, aluminum-alloy wheels and xenon headlights.
Overall, the Infiniti G35 provides a lot of comfort and performance for a reasonable price.
Few cars have the combination of performance, handling and styling that the G35 does.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||October 2, 2002|
|Alan Vonderhaar||Cincinnati.com||November 30, 2002|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||November 17, 2002|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||August 17, 2002|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||July 6, 2002|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 16, 2002|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||May 12, 2002|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||April 24, 2002|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||April 21, 2002|
|Anita Lienert||The Detroit News||March 27, 2002|
|Jason Stein||February 23, 2003|
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