Corporate parts bins are magical places. Seeking a more economical version of the G sedan, some clever Infiniti product planner sifted through mothership Nissan's home-market powertrain portfolio and unearthed a small-cube version of the familiar VQ-Series V6 engine.
Thus was born the 2011 Infiniti G25, the most affordable Infiniti you can buy.
The New Entry Level
Until now, the company had only the G37 to do battle with entry-level versions of BMW's 3 Series and the Lexus IS, which in terms of cost and performance was sort of like deciding between a cigarette lighter and a flamethrower. The G25 now shoulders that duty, positioned squarely in the same output and price category as its entry-level lux-marque competition.
Known as VQ25VHR in Nissan-speak, the G25's 2.5-liter V6 power plant is built on the same architecture as the 3.7-liter V6 found in the G37. The G25's engine is consequently only smaller in terms of swept capacity — externally, the two engines are clones.
This commonality presents something of a problem since the "smaller" engine doesn't result in significant weight or manufacturing cost savings. Fuel economy, too, at 20/29 city/highway mpg, betters the G37's 19/27 mpg showing by just a hair while giving up a not-inconsiderable slice of power and torque.
So in order to keep the 2011 Infiniti G25's sticker from potentially ballooning past that of a bare-bones G37, Infiniti withheld from the G25 a few whiz-bang option packages. The G37's Premium, Sport and Technology offerings are deleted for the G25, as is a navigation system. But then, this is the entry-level version, remember?
A base G25 starts at 4,000 fewer bucks than the base G37. Our G25 tester, a Journeyman trim, is about as loaded as they come, sporting a solid pack of equipment including keyless entry, a back-up camera, Bluetooth, heated seats, dual-zone climate control and an iPod interface. A $1,000 moonroof brings its as-tested price to $34,675, or about $1,600 less than the asking price for a base G37.
Smaller and Willing V6
The G25 generates 218 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque, numbers some 110 hp and 82 lb-ft less than the G37 but right in the mix with those of its main rivals.
As V6s go, the G25's is a smooth revver. The VQ25VHR tackles its 7,500-rpm redline with none of the coarseness that has crept into the 3.7-liter version, owing to the 2.5-liter engine's lighter reciprocating masses. Acceleration is satisfactory, if not blazing. In our testing the G25 clocked 60 mph in 8 seconds flat (7.7 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip) and then clicked off the quarter-mile in 15.8 seconds at 89.2 mph.
The spread of power is well-distributed across the tach, as the little V6 exhibits useful pop down low. It helps that the engine is mated to the cooperative — and compulsory — seven-speed autobox. It's not shy about downshifting when you dip the go pedal, and it does so with a blip of the throttle to match revs. Manual mode is commanded via the console lever only. Although the G25 is not a sports car, we wish steering wheel paddles were available if for no other reason than to facilitate engine braking in stop-and-go driving.
And as good as the automatic transmission is, there's something about rev-happy engines like the G25's that makes us really pine for a shift-it-yourself manual gearbox. They'd be sales-proof, though, so it's hard to blame the company for offering the G25 solely with an automatic.
Let's delve into what the 2011 Infiniti G25 isn't. It's not a compromise, at least if you expected Nissan to sacrifice the G's fundamental dynamic goodness in exchange for an attractive sticker. The G25's hydraulic steering delivers every bit of the honest heft of its bigger brother. Same goes for the solid brake pedal feel and crisp turn-in. The G25 is an engaging drive that strikes a balance between feedback, capability and comfort.
Through the slalom the 3,530-pound G25 produced a 65.7-mph performance that was accompanied by a bit of lift-throttle oversteer. Managing this behavior was fun but probably didn't help the end result.
Grip on the skid pad was respectable at 0.91g, especially when you consider that the G25 is rolling on all-season 215/55R17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires that had clearly been worked hard prior to our test. Outright braking power is quite good, consuming 109 feet from 60 mph.
A G by Any Other Name Is Still a G
On the road the G25 delivers lively road feel, particularly at the front end, tracking your desired path with pointy accuracy. Body motions stay roped in without the need for stiff suspension underpinnings — the G25 inspires confidence while remaining compliant and comfortable. It's not an out-and-out sport sedan but it receives the trickle-down benefits of being related to one.
Even if there's not enough grunt to induce G37-like powerslides, at least the G25 enjoys that car's cabin. The G25 is appointed very similarly to its big bro, and while we could quibble — and probably have done so — about the plushness of a few of the material choices in the G37, those things get more of a pass in the less expensive G25. Outside, there's barely a visual tip-off that you're driving the entry-level version of the G. Only its rump badge gives it away.
Not that there's anything to be shy about, since the G25 is a fine car and a welcome addition to the G family. Take a moment and give thanks that there are still carmakers that embrace the inherent dynamic attributes of the rear-wheel-drive layout. Still, we're curious to see how many buyers reckon that the 2011 Infiniti G25 entails enough savings to overcome the G37's siren song of power.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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