There are those who claim to be able to reach across the ethereal plane, into another dimension, and speak with the dead. I will make no such claim. The best I could offer my friend was assistance in tracking down the plots containing his great grandfather and other relatives, buried in an Irish Catholic cemetery north of town. Aiding us in our search was the stately 2008 Infiniti G37S, which felt appropriate for this task — you don't want to visit your ancestors in an Aveo. It would look bad.
The three of us pile our gear into the G37S (first stop cemetery, second stop beach) and we notice a peculiar sign posted inside the trunk. It's an illustration of the rear of the car explaining, in three languages, how to insert a pair of golf bags. Most of the people I knew with this car's predecessor, the G35, were professional twentysomethings with jobs in graphic design and no clue how to spend their money. With this latest version it seems, superficially at least, they've jumped straight to waning midlife crisis. After trudging through the slow moving traffic that tends to form along the commercial thoroughfares of Chicago, we reach the glorious, though brief, expanse of Lake Shore Drive leading to Evanston and our destination. I purposefully wait at the yellow light, hoping to be at the front of the line to tackle the mostly sheltered onramp. As a first test I leaned hard on the G37's go pedal when the light turned green, hoping to determine the ratio of sport to luxury in this sports luxury coupe but not expecting much. Given how relatively docile the Infiniti's V6 is at low speed I was a bit caught off guard at how rapidly we accelerated up the ramp and into traffic. I quickly shifted into second, but barely had my bearings before the red tach needle, bathed in a purplish light, bounced against the redline. Oops. Though there's a deep engine note, the well-sealed cabin doesn't allow exterior sounds to dampen the conversation. Ours turned to the proper way to pull up the playlist of an iPod on the large screen in the center of the dash instead of a discussion of how clumsily I launched us onto the highway. It was then I realized that this is a sports car, but one designed with an eye towards hiding that fact from its passengers. Though there's a lot that keeps the car's athletic nature from the passengers, including the sleek and modern interior, the ride over the uneven and damaged roads leading away from the highway and towards the final resting place is punishing. The plush and aerated leather seats do a decent job of absorbing the blows being translated through the suspension, which in S trim is firmed up a bit, but there's a click every time we hit the slightest bump. It turns out the sound was the clip in the rear passenger's hair hitting the rear glass. It was lucky for her she wasn't any taller. I pull the G37S through the main arch of the front gate, which is designed to mimic the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. Unfortunately, the office is closed and we have no idea where, amid the hundreds of plots, his ancestors are actually buried. Though there are narrow concrete paths through the grounds you can only do the searching on foot. After a while having no luck finding his unique last name among the typically Irish-Catholic names (Murphy, Kennedy, O'Brien) I stop to take stock of the coupe. Compared to the even the most ornamented tributes, the G37S looks almost gaudy. Though in a more austere coat of silver, the massive chrome grille shone like a beacon when the clouds began to break and the 10-spoke wheels practically glittered. Compared to the light coat of paint, the rich red taillights are practically jewels. If the eyes of the dead are upon us, they're thinking we've come along way since the Great Famine. The cemetery was a truly beautiful and holy place and we were all glad we came. One last time we hoped for some sort of divine inspiration to help us divine the location of the gravestone's, a voice from the other side. We had no such luck. Content that we'd tried our best we set out for the curvy roads ahead, hoping to communicate with the athletic beast lurking beneath the luxurious visage. The aggressive sports car behind the massive grille came to life as we zipped up and down the ravine, seeming unimpressed with what we considered fun roads. The faster I pushed the car and the harder I sent it into the corners the more unconcerned it became. It wasn't an easy exercise — it took considerable effort and numerous steering inputs to keep it inline — but I was unable to find the point where the G37 was ready to cry uncle. This apparently indefatigability initially seems like a good trait as, with most cars, the limits are all too apparent. But this didn't feel like an issue of performance but rather of communication. The car's many drive-by-wire and sensor-controlled steering systems work a bit too well, making it hard to get a feel for when the coupe is about to oversteer. The car understood my inputs, but I found it difficult to understand what the car was telling me. In linguistics, the part of verbal communication not directly related to the phonetic sounds of the words is called prosody. When we stress certain words or draw them out we're trying to send a message, but this is a complex concept and one of the biggest reasons why KITT-like computer-human interaction doesn't work very well. Sadly, the computer inside the G37 is quite smart but it didn't seem to tell me what it planned to do next. I couldn't understand its prosodics. After a while we gave up and moved on to the beach. We couldn't communicate with the dead and our vehicle couldn't communicate with us, but at the very least pulling up to the beach in a shiny Infiniti coupe communicates to those around us that we've arrived. Also see: