2007 BMW 335i vs. 2008 Infiniti G37 Comparison Test

2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe

(3.7L V6 6-speed Manual)
  • 2007 BMW 335i vs. 2008 Infiniti G37 Comparison Test Video

    Watch on 2007 BMW 335i vs. 2008 Infiniti G37 Comparison Test Video on Edmunds' Inside LIne | October 14, 2009

1 Video , 33 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Second Opinion
  • Top 7 Features
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2007 BMW 3 Series Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Infiniti G37 Specs and Performance

After driving the 2007 BMW 335i and 2008 Infiniti G37 Sport, we wonder if the people who built them thought about anything besides going fast.

Between the twin turbochargers nesting on the 335i's inline six-cylinder and the large-displacement V6 that gives the G37 its name, we're waist-deep in a level of engine might that recalls an E46 BMW M3 — and we've scarcely passed the $40,000 price barrier.

The 2007 BMW 335i and 2008 Infiniti G37 coupes make you see the idea of a four-passenger, rear-drive luxury coupe in a new way. It still needs to be attractive, elegant and graceful. Handling still ought to be sharp, balanced and involving. But raw speed has become an important measure of worth. A snarky exhaust is now a sign of virtue.

The Gap Narrows
As you'd guess from the Sport suffix, a sport package is standard on this flavor of G. In addition to the expected firmer suspension settings and sport seats, it supplies a limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires, and larger-diameter brake discs at all four corners. With a six-speed manual gearbox, the price of the G37 Sport starts out just under $36,000, Infiniti tells us. (Infiniti has yet to release official pricing for the 2008 G37.)

Our test car had nearly the full load of options, however. Big-ticket items included a hard-drive-based navigation system, Infiniti's new Four-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS) and the Premium Package, which provides high-end Bose sound, a sunroof, Bluetooth and all sorts of cabin conveniences. With an additional $550 for a spoiler, we estimate the total bill at $42,413.

From there it's only a $3,800 jump to our 2007 BMW 335i test car, also a six-speed manual. It was a conventionally equipped 3 Series coupe, meaning it had both the Sport and Premium Packages but no navigation system (and therefore no iDrive).

The BMW's Sport upgrades consist of 18-inch wheels, a run-flat set of Bridgestone Potenza RE050As and generously bolstered seats. The Premium group adds leather, Bluetooth, BMW Assist telematics and various conveniences. Active steering is available, but our test car didn't have it. Heated seats ($500) and Sparkling Graphite paint ($475) were additional line items, yielding an MSRP of $46,200.

Infiniti G37: Going for Exotic Character
Though the G37 seems more like a 3 Series than ever when you look at its price and equipment, it feels pretty exotic when you settle into the driver seat.

The seat is mounted as low as the beltline is high, and you're gently coaxed into adopting a reclined driving position, as if you were driving a Formula 1 car. The control layout is ergonomically superb. The seat is a tad squishy, but it envelops your body and even offers a seat-bottom cushion that you can extend to support your legs — you know, like in a BMW.

As you look out through the dramatically sloped windshield, you'd swear you were looking into a Ferrari's cleavage, as the curves of the G's front quarter-panel curves rise softly to frame the oncoming blacktop.

Powerful but Conflicted
Setting out, the Infiniti G37 is at once relaxed and frenetic. Rated for 330 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm, the new 3.7-liter V6 delivers useful wallop off the line, but like the 3.5 before it, this engine prefers to do business in the midrange of its power band.

Shifting the six-speed box is not as pleasurable as it should be, either. The weighty clutch engages without subtlety, as if to say, "Get it over with, tenderfoot." But the shift action isn't as decisive. The shift lever is a nice piece in your hand (especially since it doesn't resonate with engine vibration, as it did in the G35 sedan), but it navigates slowly if precisely through the gates, as if it needs to carefully digest all that engine power.

At the test track, this drivetrain delivers the G37 to the quarter-mile mark in 13.8 seconds at 102 mph, while a run to 60 mph takes 5.4 seconds.

Unrealized Potential
Around town, the Infiniti coupe's stiff chassis reminds you that every second you waste running errands in suburbia could be better spent on a remote back road. Surprisingly, this tautly calibrated chassis proved compliant over most pavement surfaces.

Once on the back roads, the Infiniti G37 isn't as hard-core as its tightly wound chassis would have you believe. It carries a flat attitude through corners, but it's never truly eager to change direction. The brake pedal feels vague and hard to modulate. Most of all, the steering doesn't weight up properly, and the feedback only comes through at a trickle.

In light of our more positive experience with an automatic 2008 G37 coupe, we blame the 4WAS system. The 4WAS attempts to vary the steering ratio between 12:1 and 20:1, and swivels the rear wheels up to 1 degree in line with the fronts. All this contributes to the G37 coupe's high-speed stability but seems to reduce the car's appetite for corners.

In the more controlled environment of our instrumented testing facility, 4WAS doesn't seem to hamper the G37, and the car maintains 71.3 mph through the slalom. The supersize brakes are not quite up to their promise, as the 3,715-pound G37 stops in 115 feet from 60 mph on its first run, but fades to 122 feet by the fifth run.

3 Series Coupe: Return to the Conventional
The 335i coupe feels like a sedan once you get behind the wheel. The seating position is higher, the cowl is lower and visibility is excellent in all directions.

The BMW has firmer seat cushions than the Infiniti, too. There's the manually adjustable bottom cushion that you expect in a BMW, plus the seatback's side bolsters can be adjusted to give you a tighter squeeze as well. And there's plenty of headroom, something that can't be said of the sunroof-equipped G37 coupe.

You won't get any thrilling views of the 335i's sheet metal through the windshield, however. This car is too down-to-business to allow such indiscretions.

Indiscreet Grunt
Indecency surfaces elsewhere. The amount of torque juicing the BMW's wide 255/35R18 rear tires might be deemed such. So might the manly exhaust roar.

But you'd forgive this twin-turbo, direct-injected 3.0-liter six almost anything and not just because of its impressive ratings of 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and 300 lb-ft of torque at an incredibly modest 1,400 rpm. Rather, it's that numerical potency combined with the engine's extreme tractability. This turbo inline-6 is smoother than the G37's V6. And as free-revving as the Nissan VQ V6 is, this twin-turbo six likes to rev even more.

As with all Bimmer gearboxes, this one feels slightly glutinous as you move the lever through the gates. Compared to the G's shift action, though, the BMW has a lighter-effort feel and it snaps positively into gear. The 335i's clutch engagement is also smoother and more predictable than that of the G37.

These impressions were borne out at the test track, where the 335i was not only four-tenths of a second quicker to the quarter-mile mark with a 13.4-second run but also moving at a significantly faster clip of 104.3 mph. Meanwhile, 60 mph came up in just 4.8 seconds.

All the Necessary Details
Our test-driving loops on back roads also revealed the 2007 BMW 335i to be faster in real-world driving, even though its softer suspension tune compromised our slalom testing, where the BMW recorded 69.5 mph. Feedback is what makes the difference. Both coupes talk to their drivers, but the 335i speaks in great detail.

We're so locked into the car's progress down the road through the compliant chassis and textured steering, we push on without reservation. Although the BMW's steering ratio of 16.0:1 suggests otherwise, the 3 Series reacts to its steering more quickly than the G37.

Once you get deep into the BMW's middle pedal, it's easy to get the full measure of the brakes. At the track, our 3,542-pound 335i test car came to a halt in 109 feet and never deviated more than a foot over our series of stops.

The BMW held only a surprisingly slim advantage in ride comfort over the Infiniti, perhaps because of the 335i's run-flat tires.

The Dyno Beckons
Although our 3,715-pound Infiniti G37 test car weighed in almost 200 pounds heavier than our 3,542-pound BMW 335i coupe, we puzzled over the wide difference in their respective acceleration performance and the G's relative lack of high-rpm vigor. The Infiniti is supposed to have a 30-hp advantage, but it wasn't adding up.

This led us back to the chassis dynamometer at MD Automotive in Westminster, California, the same facility we used to test an overachieving, automatic-equipped 335i.

As the dyno reveals, our 335i test car produces 280 hp 5,800 rpm as measured at the rear wheels, while the G37 comes up with 281 hp at 7,200 rpm. As close as these numbers look, the 335i holds a huge advantage over the G in power under the curve from idle to 6,350 rpm. And if you look at torque, the difference is even uglier: 279 lb-ft at 3,370 rpm for the BMW versus 229 at 4,500 rpm for the Infiniti.

The thing to keep in mind is that the G37's dyno numbers are actually right on target. They're 15 percent lower than the published specifications (which don't take drivetrain losses into account) and that's what you can expect from most production cars. The 335i's numbers were only 7 percent down from the specs, which suggest to us that BMW has slightly underrated it.

The Rest of the Time
So the BMW 335i is the better drive, but would you want to live with it? It depends on your priorities. If the latest technology is a must-have for you, the Infiniti G37 is the better choice. In addition to giving you more content per dollar, the G has a more ergonomically sound layout for the controls, as reflected in its excellent navigation system that deftly blends touchscreen and directional-button functionality.

If quality and interior passenger volume matter to you, the BMW is the one you want. True, you pay extra to get leather in the Bimmer, but the standard hides in the G feel like they belong in a $30,000 car, not a $40,000 one.

We were also surprised to find the BMW has 88.5 cubic feet of passenger volume, while the G37 is rated at 85.0 cubic feet (82.7 when a sunroof is present).

Deceptively Close
Whether you consider this battle a pedigreed recasting of the Camaro-Mustang rivalry or a superficial spat to be had between handsomely paid professionals, one thing's certain: Neither coupe would have gotten this much engine if the other didn't exist.

Very likely, they wouldn't stop or handle as well, either. Nor would they each offer an active steering system as an option. At heart, the 2007 BMW 335i and 2008 Infiniti G37 are chasing the same driver.

And by most standards, the Infiniti G37 is an impressive car and a lot of fun. But it isn't as quick as the BMW 335i, nor does it engage its driver with equal commitment.

Due to its higher price and shorter features list, the 3 Series won this test by only 2.3 points. But contained within those points are all the details that make it a more intimate and involving driving partner.

"Nearly every aspect of our drive feels more natural in the 335i," one of our editors recorded in the notebook for this comparison. "I'm not sure what the price difference is, but the BMW feels $15,000 better."

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh says:
Judged on the surface, the G37 has a lot to recommend it. It's sleek and swift, and the implied promise of a BMW-like driving experience for fewer duckets is tempting indeed.

Once I clamber behind the steering wheel, my head scrapes the G37's sunroof and there's less of an airy feel in the big Infiniti's strangely confined cabin. These trifles aside, the G's compromise between ride comfort and body control has been juggled expertly, and this car absorbs bumps with aplomb even as it carves through a corner at full speed. Once you add the grunt of 30 extra horses than the BMW, all this should be enough to tip the balance in the G's favor.

Strike that. The G37's long-stroke V6 is helpless against the 335i's velvety midrange punch, and it sure doesn't feel any faster out in the real world. This impression prompted our trip to the dyno, confirming our suspicions that the BMW's turbo wundermotor is a mighty one, even more powerful than its official rating. What's more, the G37's V6 is strained at high engine speeds, warbling uncertainly on its way to the fuel cut-off as if it would prefer you weren't in such a damned hurry.

Worst of all is the lifeless active steering with which our six-speed G37 test car has been equipped, an experiment that should have stayed locked up in the R&D facility. There's little indication as to what the Infiniti's front tires are doing and the load-up of steering effort feels artificial.

Once you factor all this against the BMW's lively, informative steering, more delicate control feel and punchier power plant, there's no doubt about which coupe is more satisfying to pilot.

Simply put, the 335i drives on a whole other level.

Typical entry-luxury coupe buyers, and specifically those interested in a 2007 BMW 335i or 2008 Infiniti G37, will be looking for a mix of performance enhancements and luxury amenities. We selected the top seven features with that caveat in mind.

Features

Features
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Infiniti G37
Active steering O O
Adaptive headlights S O
Keyless start O S
Leather upholstery O S
Limited-slip differential N/A S
Navigation system O O
Premium audio S O


Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Active steering: Is it a performance enhancement or just a safety feature? We'll let you be the judge. Both Infiniti and BMW offer it as an option, and in either case, this technology has the ability to quicken the steering ratio for faster response at lower speeds and slow it down for greater stability at higher speeds. Infiniti's system, Four-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS), incorporates a rear-steer feature, whereby the rear wheels can turn up to 1 degree in line with the fronts.

Adaptive headlights: Regular bi-xenon headlights are old news. These days, entry-level luxury coupes should be able to see around corners at all hours of the day. All BMW 335is come with auto-swiveling adaptive headlights, but on the Infiniti G37, you'll need to pick them up via the Technology Package.

Keyless start: BMW makes you pay extra for this convenience, and that's quite a shame given that 335s without it have a cumbersome, two-step insert-the-key-then-push-the-button start-up process. Infiniti offers it gratis on all 2008 G37 coupes.

Leather upholstery: You're buying a $40,000 car. Should you really be paying extra for leather at this point? It's standard in Infiniti, but BMW sticks you with leatherette unless you fork over a little extra.

Limited-slip differential: This performance-enhancing feature will be of greatest benefit to advanced drivers. A limited-slip rear differential prevents the rear inside tire from spinning excessively on corner exits by transferring torque to the outside wheel. This improves the car's balance through tighter turns and makes for quicker transitions. It's standard on all manual-shift G37 coupes, but BMW does not offer LSD on the 335i.

Navigation system: Weekday commutes, weekend drives, summer road trips — you're going to be putting on a lot of miles and driving to remote areas in these coupes. And a navigation system can be extremely helpful if you lose your bearings. Both coupes offer it as an option, but the Infiniti's hard-drive-based nav system is technologically superior to the BMW's DVD-driven unit. Its touchscreen interface is much easier to negotiate as well.

Premium audio: You're buying a $40,000 car. Should you really be paying extra for your music to sound good? An excellent Harman Kardon Logic 7 system is standard in the BMW 335i, but if you don't check off the Bose option for the G37, you'll be stuck listening to a basic six-speaker unit.

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2007 BMW 335i 2008 Infiniti G37
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0% 50.0%
Recommended Rating 2.5% 100.0% 50.0%
Evaluation Score 35.0% 85.3% 77.9%
Feature Content 15.0% 52.4% 76.2%
Performance 25.0% 97.0% 86.9%
Price 20.0% 91.1% 100.0%
Total Score 100.0% 85.2% 82.9%
Final Ranking 1 2
$46,200 $42,413

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the cars in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the two coupes in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment.

29-Point Evaluation (35%): Each participating editor ranked each car based on a comprehensive 29-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from exterior design to cupholders. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (15%): For this category, the editors picked the top 7 features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping in this segment. For each vehicle, the score was based on the amount of actual features it had versus the total possible (7). Standard and optional equipment were taken into consideration.

Performance Testing (25%): Each coupe was subjected to a set of performance tests that measure acceleration, braking, speed through a 600-foot slalom course and lateral gs on a 200-foot skid pad. Scores were calculated by giving the better-performing coupe in each category 100 percent. The lesser performer was awarded points based on how close it came to the top car's score.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the least expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the "as tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the least expensive one received a score of 100, with the remaining car receiving a lesser score based on how much each one costs.

Vehicle
Model year2007
MakeBMW
Model3 Series
Style335i 2dr Coupe (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
Base MSRP$41,575
As-tested MSRP$46,200
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeTwin-turbocharged direct-injection inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2979cc (182cu-in)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)300 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)300 @ 1,400
Transmission type6-speed manual
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelPotenza RE050A (run flat)
Tire size, front225/40R18 88W
Tire size, rear255/35R18 90W
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.2
0-60 mph (sec.)4.8
0-75 mph (sec.)7.2
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.4 @ 104.3
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)26
60-0 mph (ft.)109
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)69.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.89
Sound level @ idle (dB)50.4
@ Full throttle (dB)77.8
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe BMW's twin-turbo six has awesome down-low response and torque. We launched at 3,000 rpm. This is easily the most practical, usable and fun engine in the class.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsPedal feel and response are as they should be. Excellent effort and appropriate effectiveness. No apparent fade.
Handling ratingExcellent
Handling commentsSkid pad: Cornering limits feel very manageable in the 335i. The limit of grip feels soft relative to the G37. Balance is excellent, and it's very easy to transition to controllable oversteer. Slalom: Again, the limits are very approachable and can't be pushed with comfort. Ultimately, the 335i is not as comfortable in fast transitions as the G37.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1121
Temperature (F)59.9
Wind (mph, direction)4.5
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/29 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)19.2
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)16.1
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,571
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,542
Length (in.)180.3
Width (in.)70.2
Height (in.)54.2
Wheelbase (in.)108.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.8
Legroom, rear (in.)33.7
Headroom, front (in.)37.1
Headroom, rear (in.)36.1
Seating capacity4
Cargo volume (cu-ft)11.1
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Not published
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion12 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/Unlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenance4 years/50,000 miles
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake drying, brake standby, fade compensation, hill-start assist
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionN/A
Emergency assistance systemOptional as part of Premium Package
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeInfiniti
ModelG37
StyleSport 6MT 2dr Coupe (3.7L 6cyl 6M)
Base MSRP$35,913
As-tested MSRP$42,413
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeV6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3,696cc (226cu-in)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)330 @ 7,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)270 @ 5,200
Transmission type6-speed manual
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeVariable-ratio, speed-sensitive power steering (optional setup)
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelPotenza RE050A
Tire size, front223/45R19 92W
Tire size, rear245/40R19 94W
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.5
0-60 mph (sec.)5.4
0-75 mph (sec.)7.9
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.8 @ 102.0
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)28
60-0 mph (ft.)115
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)71.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)45.1
@ Full throttle (dB)77.7
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe G37 requires high revs to get out of the hole quickly -- we launched at about 5,000 rpm. Neither the shifter nor the shift action feels as good as in the 335i. The Infiniti's gearbox feels notchy by comparison, with high effort between the gates. This is a good engine, but in this test, it lacks the grunt to compete with the BMW.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsVery good, solid pedal feel and response. Still, the level of fade (the car stopped in 122 feet on the fifth run) is disturbing given the fact that these are the biggest rotors in the class, not to mention the badass four-piston calipers in front.
Handling ratingExcellent
Handling commentsSkid pad: The limit of front grip hits like a wall in the G37. The tires chatter and the chassis isn't comfortable in heavy understeer, which is easily achieved. Slalom: Very stable on throttle through high-speed transitions. Intuitive, communicative and easy to control. I like the high-effort steering at speed, but it can feel burdensome when driving slowly.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1121
Temperature (F)79
Wind (mph, direction)8.5
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)TBD city/TBD highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.4
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)20
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3668
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3715
Length (in.)183.1
Width (in.)71.8
Height (in.)54.9
Wheelbase (in.)112.2
Legroom, front (in.)43.8
Legroom, rear (in.)29.8
Headroom, front (in.)37.7
Headroom, rear (in.)34.5
Seating capacity4
Cargo volume (cu-ft)7.4
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)N/A
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain6 years/70,000 miles
Corrosion7 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/60,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard
Head airbagsStandard
Antilock brakesStandard
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNone
Emergency assistance systemNone
NHTSA crash test, driverNot available
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot available
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot available
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot available
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot available
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