James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor
So the ball and chain won't let you buy a sports car. Did we say ball and chain? We meant loving significant other who possesses the utmost wisdom. He or she says that a sports car would be just too impractical; they're noisy, uncomfortable and ride like the Flintstones mobile. But you're too young to succumb to the doldrums of sedan life. Nightmares of Costco and picking up the kiddies from school dance in your head. Rest assured, there are compromises to be found, including the 2009 Infiniti G37 Sport, which blends sport and luxury into one appealing package.
While other sport coupes draw their motoring DNA from sedans, the G37 shares its lineage with Nissan's 370Z — a performance machine your practical-minded significant other would certainly not condone. He or she would balk at the rough ride, the cramped two-seat cabin and the raucous tones perpetually emanating from underneath the sculpted hood. While the G37 can't quite match the Z's acceleration or handling, it comes awfully close, and it also boasts a pair of rear seats, more elegant appointments, a quieter cabin, a plusher ride and a shiny luxury badge upon its grille.
On the flip side, the G37's sporting pretensions require some concessions in comfort and practicality. While the rear seat may exist, its headroom is best suited for children or Marie Antoinette. That quiet cabin and plusher ride can't be described as such when compared to the Audi A5 or BMW 3 Series. Its trunk is hardly suited for a Costco shopping spree.
Therefore, the 2009 Infiniti G37 is perhaps the closest you can get to a pure 50/50 split between a luxury car and a dedicated sports car. There are plenty of competitors that offer more or less of either — and for more or less coin — but it's hard to think of a car in this diverse class that strikes a better overall balance. But don't take our word for it — best ask the ball and...loving significant other.
The 2009 Infiniti G37 Sport is motivated by a 3.7-liter V6 that pumps 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque through the rear wheels. This big V6's power delivery is muscular, but a bit industrial in feel and sound (the old G's telltale exhaust drone has been muted). A buttery-smooth BMW inline-6 it's not, but there's enough firepower on deck to launch the G up to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, or roughly the midpoint between the BMW 3 Series gasoline engines.
We voiced numerous complaints about the six-speed manual found in our long-term G35 sedan, most of which involved the clutch. Engagement was difficult to modulate, the heavy effort was Thighmaster-grade, and the pedal creaked like a haunted house. For many of us, it ruined an otherwise enjoyable car. Happily, the clutch found in our G37 coupe test car was a significant improvement, though it was still a bit trickier than we'd like, and effort was on the heavy side. The shifter remains direct and mechanical, but too much drivetrain vibration makes its way through to the driver's hand. It also lacks the new 370Z's SynchroRev Match feature, which automatically blips the throttle for perfect downshifts. The available automatic transmission is a tempting alternative, featuring eager rev-matching on downshifts and shift paddles that are responsive and pleasing to use.
Handling remains impressive regardless of how many pedals reside in the footwell, and the Sport trim's firmer suspension, 19-inch wheels, summer tires and limited-slip differential further burnish the G37's performance credentials. It doesn't quite have the agile sports-car feel of a 370Z or BMW 135i, but the G remains planted and balanced through turns, with a scant amount of body roll. The steering is aggressively speed-sensitive — loosey-goosey in parking lots and heavy through high-speed turns. It is highly responsive to inputs, but the overall effect is a tad artificial, and more road feel could be transmitted to the driver's hands. The brake pedal is somewhat touchy, but it initiates impressive stopping power — the G37 took only 110 feet to stop from 60 mph.
Ride comfort falls suitably in the middle of the sport-luxury spectrum — firmer than most luxury cars, more forgiving than dedicated performance machines. Over the jagged concrete freeways of California's Interstate 5, there was less crashing and hopping than we noticed in the 370Z and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. However, it wasn't as compliant as a BMW 3 Series. Wind and road noise were kept acceptably in check.
The front seats offer a wealth of adjustments, including a thigh-support extender and power-adjustable side bolsters. Nevertheless, even with these bolsters at their most accommodating setting, our larger editors still felt pinched and drivers of all sizes found the seat to be awkwardly shaped. It was harder to get comfortable than we expected, but at least there is plenty of space, and the tilt-telescoping steering wheel allows for a good driving position.
The backseat offers a decent amount of legroom by coupe standards, but headroom is unacceptable for anyone taller than 5-foot-6. At least getting back there is made easy by the power access feature — you simply press the button on the top of the front seat to slide it forward, hop in and then press the button again to return the seat to its original position. You can fit a rear-facing child seat back there, but the front seat must be scooted far forward. Since this is a coupe, once the seat has been installed, your child must be placed in his or her seat from the car's opposite side.
As with the rest of Infiniti's lineup (and upper-crust Nissans), the 2009 Infiniti G37's controls for the audio, climate and navigation systems do a tremendous job of simplifying complicated functions while minimizing the number of buttons squished together on the center stack. It doesn't take long to figure out how everything works. The iPod interface that comes with the Premium package excels at mimicking the iPod menus, and it can be controlled via the large center stack knob or a convenient steering-wheel toggle switch.
The manual transmission robs the G37 Sport of some interior storage space. The center armrest bin is significantly smaller, as are the shallow, square cupholders. The trunk can fit a large suitcase and a full set of golf clubs (there's a diagram on the trunk lid showing you how to install two sets).
Design/Fit and Finish
Next to the voluptuous curves of the Genesis Coupe and 370Z, the G37 looks relatively conservative. If the goal is to go fast without attracting unwanted attention from Johnny Law, this could be a good thing.
The cabin is similarly conservative, but it provides that luxury atmosphere that your better half is looking for. There were mixed feelings about the "Washi" trim, which wraps around the cabin in a nod to Japanese samurai swords and origami paper. Some thought it was a nice design touch; others thought it looked more like plastic than aluminum. The rest of the cabin consists of pretty good materials, but the pricier Audi A5 and BMW 3 Series interiors are nicer.
Who should consider this vehicle
It's been mentioned often, but the 2009 Infiniti G37 is not a BMW. However, it's significantly cheaper than the 335i, so those looking for similar performance and luxury at an attractive price should find this Infiniti pleasing.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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