The Infiniti G37 convertible’s performance makes you look for excuses to drive, and its comfort and features encourage you to drop the top when other convertibles might not.
The G37 proves there’s more to making a convertible than cutting off the roof of a car. For decades, it seemed that was all automakers did, and the results were cars that baked you to death in summer, froze you to death in winter and always drove like the front end was joined to the back by hints and suggestions.
The G37 is a solid step up from those days. It has all the answers to those freezing, baking and driving issues I found in older convertibles. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its flaws, but it’s an impressive car.
The biggest barrier to enjoying a convertible is the weather – and not just rain, but also heat and cold. If you’re uncomfortable driving a car with the top down, you won’t do it, which raises the question: Why buy a convertible in the first place?
What Infiniti does to address this is fine-tune the climate-control system for top-down driving. When the heater’s on and you’re going fast, it blows more heat on you to keep you warm. When you have the air conditioner on, it decreases the amount of cold air blowing on you the faster you go, then cranks up the A/C as you slow down.
I can’t vouch for how well the heater works, but I can say with certainty that the cooling system works very well. After a week driving in 90-degree-plus weather with the top down nearly every time, I was comfortable. It helped that our car had the optional ventilated seats. I never once got out of the G37 with my shirt stuck to my back, and that’s saying something in that kind of weather.
The fan that blows air through the seat is quite loud, though. You don’t notice it at speed, but you will notice it while puttering along slow country roads. The seats are available only as part of an optional, $3,050 Premium Package.
Another issue with convertibles is how much buffeting you have to endure in them. Many convertibles these days are good in this regard – you don’t get slapped around by the wind. I took the G37 on a 160-mile road trip at highway speeds with the top down and was no more fatigued than I am in any other car. The caveats: When I wore a ball cap, I noticed a slight sensation, like the wind wanted to lift the bill of my cap, and there was a slight buffeting sensation around my shoulders. Neither of those issues was major, though. If I owned the car, I wouldn’t be shy about dropping the top for any long highway drive. (There’s also an optional wind deflector behind the front seats that’s supposed to deflect more air from the cockpit.)
Now, others who have driven the G37 have said the power retractable hardtop is clunky when it goes up and down, and that it requires a lot of room and time to operate – about 30 seconds. Personally, I don’t think 30 seconds is too long to wait, and the operation of any convertible top doesn’t bother me as long as I’m happy when the top is down, as I was in the G37. Still, enough people have called it out to make me think it’s something you should test before you buy.
(You can read Mike Hanley’s review of a 2009 G37 convertible here and get his impressions of the top, and you can compare the 2009 model to the 2010 here.)
Infiniti has pretty distinct interiors, if in no other way than they always seem to mount an oval analog clock on the dashboard. Our test model also had optional wood trim – an interior feature I normally despise, but it looked good on this car. Overall, all the interior switches and surfaces felt expensive and solid, and that’s what you want from a luxury brand.
There was one problem, though: The G37 comes with a standard rearview camera, but I found it worthless. No matter how I adjusted the brightness and contrast, the display washed out in bright sunlight and was too dark in the shade. It should be better.
One thing to watch out for with convertibles is secure storage, and that’s a potential issue in the G37. It has a large, covered center storage bin that includes a USB input for MP3 players. It’s very handy; the trouble is that the bin isn’t lockable. If you’re the sort who likes to leave the top down when you run quick errands, you’ll need to move your iPod – unless you’re the trusting sort.
The only other issues I had were minor. I was always hitting the button to turn on the hazard lights when I was trying to input destinations in the optional navigation system, and that USB jack was extremely awkward to reach. These are minor things, but they did annoy me every time I had to use them.
If you have to drive with the top up, the interior it still very open and comfortable. I did notice a slight creaking sound from the roof panels on rough or extremely twisty roads, but it was pretty slight. Again: You’ll want to test it for yourself to see if it’s going to bug you.
More than any other car I’ve driven, the G37 turned heads. It’s the only one about which someone has said, “I love this car.” It’s a really well-proportioned, balanced design.
One feature that really makes it stand out is that it omits a traditional B-pillar immediately behind the doors. It’s a very open design that you obviously notice while inside the car, but it also looks very good from the outside.
With the top down, the car has a nice, smooth line to its rear. There’s no bulge to hide the roof and no bumps or headrest-like nacelles. It’s all very clean. Specific to our test car, almost everybody loved its color: Pacific Sky, a sort of steel blue. Honestly, though, it’s not what I would choose. Oh well.
Under the Hood
The G37 coupe is a performance-oriented car, and the convertible maintains that orientation. It has a 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine that makes 267 pounds-feet of torque. You can get a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic, which is what our test model had. The automatic uses Infiniti’s rev-matching system for downshifting. What this means is that the engine revs up slightly when you downshift to provide a smooth transition of power. It’s a cool feature that I enjoyed a lot, especially because I prefer to manually select my gears, even with an automatic.
The V-6 provided good pulling power at all speeds. (Car guys describe this by saying it has a broad power band and a flat torque curve.) Some performance cars make you wind out the engine to the last rev to produce power, but the G37 doesn’t. It’s a good engine that’s matched well to its transmission.
The steering was also excellent. It had sufficient power assist to make driving in parking lots easy, but the assist diminished at faster speeds. The steering felt very direct, and I had a real sense of what the front wheels were doing – exactly what you want in a performance car.
Finally, the ride was good for a convertible. When you cut the roof off a car you often lose a lot of structural support, which can hurt handling, but the G37 was OK in this regard. There was, however, some shudder in the body at both high and low speeds on bad roads. If you intend to drive the car quickly – and if you’ve never owned a convertible – make sure to drive it a bit before buying to determine if it’s something you can live with. Also, if you live somewhere with rotten roads, drive them with the top both up and down a bit to see if you like it.
Overall, the G37 is impressive from a performance standpoint. Funnily enough, my favorite aspect didn’t have much to do with making the car go faster – it was the exhaust note. I’ve always liked the snarling sound most Infinitis make, but the G37’s is particularly good. I will admit to downshifting in tunnels and underpasses just to hear it.
Safety, Reliability & Mileage
The G37 is part of Infiniti’s G range of cars, which also includes a sedan and coupe. The convertible hasn’t been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is common for convertibles. (You can view standard safety features here.) Similarly, the G37 convertible does not have reliability ratings, but the current G sedan has fared above average in its four years on the market.
The automatic Infiniti G37 gets an estimated 17/25 mpg city/highway. The manual is rated 16/24 mpg.
G37 in the Market
There are several cars that compete with the G37 convertible on the basis of price and convertible prowess.
The G37 convertible’s strong points include the fact that it’s still a performance car, even without its roof. Also, Infiniti has worked hard to make it comfortable to drive in a variety of weather conditions, so you’re more likely to want to drive with the top down. I can’t overstate it: I had this car during a pretty miserably hot stretch of weather – and I prefer cold to heat – yet I always had the top down and I was always comfortable. I also looked for excuses to drive this car, simply because it was so much fun.
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