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Expert Reviews 1 of 9
By Mike Hanley
November 20, 2009
The Infiniti G coupe and sedan are favorites here at Cars.com, in part because they offer performance similar to BMW's popular 3 Series at a lower price. With the all-new G37 retractable-hardtop convertible, Infiniti continues to stalk the 3 Series, which had already added a retractable-hardtop to its lineup.
In convertible form, the rear-wheel-drive G37 retains the fun-to-drive nature of its closed-roof siblings, making it well positioned to go toe-to-toe with the 335i convertible. This new Infiniti isn't without some issues, though, including paltry trunk space when the top is down.
In addition to the convertible, we've also reviewed the coupe and sedan versions of the G37 if you want to catch up on those models. See a comparison of all three here. The Look Some retractable-hardtops don't have the best lines, but Infiniti did a nice job retaining the G37 coupe's sleek shape in its new convertible. The convertible's roofline arc is similar to the coupe's, but perhaps more important, the rear of the convertible isn't excessively tall, which throws off the styling of some other retractable-hardtops, including the new Lexus IS convertible.
Infiniti says it takes around 30 seconds to lower or raise the retractable-hardtop roof, which is longer than BMW's reported 22 seconds for the 335i and the MX-5 Miata's speedy retractable-hardtop roof, which Mazda says takes just 12 seconds. More significant than the Infiniti's slightly slower roof is the way the trunklid shuts with a thunk at the end of the operation, shaking the car slightly. It's the type of sensation a luxury convertible shouldn't produce. Ride & Handling Even though the G37 convertible does the fancy trick of lowering its roof at the touch of a button, it's nice to see that the performance-oriented nature of the car hasn't been diluted by its transformation to a convertible. The droptop exhibits the balanced dynamics and direct, weighty steering we've come to appreciate in other versions of the G37.
The four-wheel independent suspension is firm, and its responses let you know that this car is designed for driving enthusiasts — especially with the way the convertible hunkers down in corners. Its focus on sportiness is similar to the 335i convertible's; the IS convertible and Volvo C70 are concerned with the driver's comfort.
There was some chassis shudder in the G37 convertible when traveling on bad roads. It's worse when the top is down; you can see the windshield frame shake out of the corner of your eye on particularly poor pavement. The car feels a little more solid with the top up, but I heard some squeaking behind me from what I suspect were the roof panels moving against each other. All in all, the amount of chassis shudder wasn't excessive. It's a condition you'll find in other convertibles — including the 335i — to varying degrees, but the squeakiness with the roof up isn't normal. V-6 Performance The G37 convertible is powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 that makes 325 horsepower. It's a strong performer that never feels winded; if you need a quick burst of speed on the highway, just depress the gas pedal and the car will lunge ahead as it squats over its rear wheels.
I liked the automatic transmission that's standard in the base convertible (a six-speed manual comes in the Sport trim). The automatic has seven forward gears, and its shifts are unobtrusive and kickdowns come quickly. However, the shift quality of the transmission's clutchless-manual mode isn't the greatest; it feels like the transmission lunges from one gear to the next when you're controlling gear changes. EPA-estimated gas mileage with the automatic is 17/25 mpg city/highway. The Inside The heated leather bucket seats offer quite a bit of side bolstering to keep you in place, and they were quite comfortable. Taller drivers will appreciate the long seat cushions, which provide plenty of thigh support.
Top-up visibility in the G37 convertible is good thanks to its retractable-hardtop design, which features thin pillars that don't obstruct rear visibility as much as some soft-tops' do.
With the top down, the cabin gets pretty breezy around 65 mph, with some stronger buffeting now and then. You also hear much more of the growling exhaust note when the top's down, and it sounds good.
The biggest downside of the convertible when compared against the coupe is its cargo area. If you don't plan on lowering the roof, there's a decent 10.3 cubic feet of space, but when you lower the three-piece roof it takes up nearly all of the trunk, leaving just 2 cubic feet near the bumper. It's hard to fathom being able to fit even a small bag into this space, let alone a suitcase. Fortunately, the G37 convertible has a small backseat that, while not well-suited for adult passengers, could handle a few small suitcases with no problem.
Retractable-Hardtop Trunk Space Compared (cu. ft.)
BMW 3 Series
Lexus IS C
Source: Manufacturer data
Safety Standard safety features include antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, side-impact airbags for the front seats, and active front head restraints. The convertible also features pop-up roll bars behind the backseat and curtain airbags that deploy from the side doors, as opposed to the roof, like in the coupe and sedan. Whereas the side curtain airbags in the coupe and sedan are designed to protect front and rear occupants, the convertible's only offer protection for front-seat occupants. For a full list of the G37 convertible's safety features, check out the Standard Equipment & Specs page. G37 Convertible in the Market I've been impressed with the latest iterations of the Infiniti G because it's been one of the few models to take on the BMW 3 Series at its own game and really match it in terms of the driving experience — and at a lower starting price. The convertible continues that tradition, but the car's top operation isn't the slickest I've seen, and the lack of cargo space with the top down is a big drawback. Perhaps its $43,850 starting price — nearly $7,000 less than a 335i convertible — is enough to make up for those cons.