The G37 coupe comes in base G37, G37 Journey, all-wheel-drive G37x and six-speed-manual G37 Sport designations. Click here to compare the '09 version to the '08. I drove the G37 Sport, but colleague Joe Wiesenfelder recently tested the all-wheel-drive, automatic-equipped G37 sedan, and his is a more comprehensive review. I'll cover coupe specifics and compare the car to some competing luxury two-doors.
The 3 Series coupe and Audi A5 exhibit typical European restraint: Tidy headlights, conservative tails and relatively straight lines from stem to stern. The G37, in turn, looks distinctly Japanese. Too often that's analogous to flaccid, curvy-with-no-point designs (see: Lexus ES). Not so here. Compared with the Europeans, the G's lines meander with near-recklessness — but, improbably, the sum of it all is appealing. Love it or not, the G coupe holds its own against the Germans.
Though all G37s share the same wheelbase, the coupe is 4 inches shorter than the sedan and 0.2 inches short of the convertible. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard on all but the G37 Sport, which has 19-inchers. Optionally, the Journey offers 19-inchers, along with most of the G37 Sport's other enhancements — after all, it isn't worthy of the "Journey" name if you can't have it any way you want it.
City drivers should note that all-wheel drive increases the G37's turning circle to 36.7 feet; other G37s, regardless of wheel size, have a 36.1-foot circle.
How it Moves
Drive the 330-horsepower G37 back-to-back with the 300-hp 335i, and you'll notice the G's lack of low-end torque relative to BMW's lusty twin-turbo six. Apart from that, the G shines: Beyond 3,000 rpm, power comes quickly — and, to be fair, it's not relatively absent south of that mark the way it would be in, say, a Mazda RX-8 or Honda S2000. The G moves out quicker than the A5; it just falls short of the Bimmer's low-end punch.
Infiniti's six-speed manual, however, is a far more preferable tool. The 3 Series' stick shift is rubbery and longish, as most BMW manuals are. The G37's stick has short throws and precise movements, and it's free of the annoying howling noises that plagued earlier manual G35s. (Infiniti confirmed the fix; it reworked the clutch in all G models for 2008.) Slapping the shifter from gear to gear is downright fun, and it's easy, too: The accelerator is responsive enough to make rev-matching easy to master.
Ride quality is middling. The suspension doesn't filter out bumps particularly well, so if you live in an area where the pavement is especially bumpy (like, say, the Midwest), you may want to consider a trim with regular suspension tuning, as opposed to the sport-tuned suspension in the G37 Sport.
Tire noise creeps up once you're past 60 mph, but wind noise is fairly well-contained. For 2009, a seven-speed automatic replaces last year's five-speed auto. Highway gas mileage is up — 18/26 mpg city/highway, versus 18/24 mpg last year. (The stick gets a slightly lower 17/25 mpg.) The automatic comes with a Sport mode and manual-shift provision; steering-wheel paddle shifters are optional.
Along with the aforementioned suspension, Sport models have a quicker steering ratio. Infiniti's four-wheel active steering, which includes a variable steering ratio, is optional. My car had the sportier suspension but not four-wheel steering, and the setup delivered excellent turn-in precision and minimal body roll. Driving hard corners, it's not as easy to hang the tail as it is in the 335i, but the G's cornering neutrality is impressive nonetheless.
The brakes are also impressive. The pedal delivers strong, linear response with little of the 3 Series' grabbiness. Sport models like the one I drove have massive 14-inch front discs, versus 13-inch discs on the base G37.
Though overall cabin quality trails the 3 Series, it's by no means a bane. My tester had some misaligned panels near the center controls — inexcusable for this class — but the materials are otherwise good, with low-gloss finishes and padded surfaces all around. Textured aluminum trim, modeled after Japanese Washi paper, does a convincing job resembling the decorative material. It's upscale enough, and it sets the G37 apart from the 3 Series and A5 with their glossier aluminum inlays. Wood trim is optional, but only on the G37x and Journey trim.
The G37 Sport's seats have power-adjustable side bolsters that are thicker than those on other versions. They're comfortably cushioned, though some may find the bolsters too constrictive even at their most relaxed setting. Manually extendable thigh cushions are included, but their design incorporates a crumb-catching gap right about mid-thigh. In the backseat, adults will find workable legroom and ample footwell space, but the coupe's rakish roofline makes headroom tight. The A5's backseat is even tighter, but the 3 Series' is better — particularly in terms of headroom.
Trunk volume totals just 7.4 cubic feet, about 6 cubic feet less than the G37 sedan's trunk. It's also substantially less than the 3 Series coupe (11.1 cubic feet) and A5 (12.0). What's more, the G's trunk has a narrower opening, particularly at its lower lip, than either competitor.
Safety & Features
Though the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the G37 sedan — it scored well — the coupe has not been tested. Standard features include six airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system; click here to see the full list. Adaptive cruise control and pre-crash seat belts, which tighten during emergency braking, are optional. The front seats have standard active head restraints, but there aren't any head restraints for the rear seats.
The automatic-equipped G37 coupe starts at $35,900, about $2,500 over the sedan. The Journey starts at $36,650, while the six-speed manual G37 Sport runs $37,000. The all-wheel-drive G37x is $38,700. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, power front seats and single-zone automatic climate control. Dual-zone climate control, a moonroof, 11-speaker Bose audio and a navigation system are optional. Load the coupe up, and the price tag tops $45,000.
G37 in the Market
I'm a bit surprised the G hasn't sold very well this year, even relative to the auto industry's precipitous sales decline. Apart from being a credible competitor to the A5 and 335i coupe, it's dirt cheap in comparison: Both European cars start above $40,000 and top out around $60,000. Reliability for the G is stellar — better than the 3 Series' respectable scores. The newly minted A5 hasn't been around long enough to establish a track record. On many practical and some emotional levels, Infiniti's coupe outshines both of those cars. The G was once a car known as the poor man's 3 Series. Since this second generation debuted, I've taken to calling it the smart man's 3 Series.
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