2008 Infiniti G37S, Part TwoExterior Design: **** The 2008 Infiniti G37S is one of the few Japanese luxury cars with the aesthetics to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Europe's best, a fact helped by the coupe's bulging, enticing shoulders. The headlights may appear a bit doe-eyed from the front, but they stretch handsomely around the front fender, starting a line that flows over the shimmering 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, then continuing below the greenhouse and towards the sloping tail. It's a design that puts the flame surfacing of the BMW 3-series coupe on ice.
Interior Design: *** There's no doubting that this is a performance luxury car, but not because of the materials. Bathed in a soft black plastic with smoothed aluminum inserts, the textures are nice but they're not particularly sporty nor are they overwhelmingly luxurious. The leather buckets are supportive and well-bolstered, but they're not something you'll brag about. The layout is smart and the buttons are within easy reach, but it's all a bit plain. No, the reason it's clear this car is ready to perform is the seating position, which is so low that you'll pucker your cheeks as you approach speed bumps.
Acceleration: **** Like a deceased minor character in a bad zombie movie, the G37S comes to life quicker than you'd expect. This has less to do with the wonderful 330 HP 3.7-liter V6 than it does with the clutch, which feels like it engages an inch away from the floor. It's a bit jarring, but you learn to adapt to it and it helps the coupe reach 60 mph in the mid five-second range. Braking: **** During a late-night acceleration test on an abandoned back road I was suddenly convinced someone's beloved pet dog was about to wander into my path and become soup. The Infiniti's vented disc brakes bit down hard enough for me to realize that the object in the distance was actually just a rock. Ride: ** If this were the 2010 Nissan 370Z and not the G37S, the relatively rough ride would be an acceptable and expected trade-off for performance. While the G37S performs well on carefully maintained surfaces, the ride's going to be a bit too rough for the owner that plans on crossing unpreserved patches of pavement on the way to the country club. Driving down an avenue that had yet to receive proper rehab since at least the previous winter, it felt as though someone had clicked on the non-existent massage chair option. Handling: *** There aren't many situations where the average owner of this car is going to be unable to stay glued to the road. The quick steering, coupled with grippy summer tires, made it quite an effort to get the rear end to slide out at all. As mentioned in part one, if there's one major shortcoming with the car's handling it's that the heavy weighting of the steering wheel, combined with the quick drive-by-wire response, makes it physically taxing to drive spiritedly over a long period of time, and mentally taxing to determine just how spiritedly the car is going to respond to inputs. Gearbox: *** Though the shifter is well positioned and the throws are reasonably short, the six-speed manual transmission in the G37S is one of the car's weaknesses. If you're forced to drive this car in heavy traffic at frequent intervals, the newfound strength developed in your left leg will cause you to walk in circles. The clutch also picks up a new gear almost before you realize you've gotten rid of the old one. Audio: **** Though the interface takes some getting used to (why the hell do I have to push DISC to get a playlist on my iPod?), the Infiniti iPod connection is one of the best examples of MP3 integration we've seen. The gigantic 7-inch screen didn't connect to a GPS system and basically served as a multimedia interface, allowing me to see full playlists and song names. The Bose audio system created a crisp sound that filled the cabin and outmatched many of my low-bitrate audio files. Toys: *** Though a first aid kit that Velcros into the trunk may not be a toy for most people, I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of it. Having no GPS system, the bright 7-inch screen is mostly a toy, letting the driver choose between entertainment and climate settings...and not much else. Value: **** An Infiniti G37 loaded with the Premium package, Sport package, $550 rear spoiler and destination charge comes in just lower than the base price for both the BMW 335i coupe and Audi A5. Though the BMW may appeal to the performance minded and the Audi has its own partisans, they're both in direct competition with the G37 and neither offer overwhelmingly superior performance or features. Cut out the $3,200 Premium package and you've got an even better deal. Overall: *** Having watched way too much of the Olympics, I've come to think of the Infiniti G37S as world-class gymnast, albeit one that's fought its way through countless rounds of qualifying only to take a step on the landing and somehow, mysteriously, displease the Australian judge. Its an adept performer, able to run with its European competitors but, due to a few minor technical deductions, unable to pass them for the gold. Also see: