April 03, 2008
We've just finished our one-year test in the 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport, one of the most compelling sport sedans on the road. It's a four-door 350Z sports car, delivering a mix of speed and practicality that sets it apart from its competition.
This car represents the introduction of the second-generation G35, meant to be faster, more purposeful and even tougher than before. It's Infiniti's attempt to take on BMW in the most direct way possible. The right people must be listening, because G35 sales increased 18.2 percent to 71,809 sales in 2007, an indication that Infiniti is getting its message across.
But 20,000 miles behind the wheel of the 2007 Infiniti G35 sport also taught us an important lesson. Though it might seem heresy to say so, not all sport sedans are better with a manual transmission.
Why We Bought It
We first saw the redesigned 2007 G35 at the 2006 New York Auto Show. Our intention to add one to the long-term fleet was decided on the spot. Upgraded materials were a step up from the plain but durable interior of the previous-generation G35. We were interested to see if the improved interior would still look good in the long run.
Nissan's 3.5-liter V6 has always impressed us. Some 80 percent of the pieces in this upgraded VQ-Series V6 were new for 2007, raising output to 306 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. There was no chance we'd pass on the opportunity to put this new power plant to the test. The G35's platform had been carried over largely intact, but it had been tuned to meet a more demanding standard of sporting dynamics, and we wondered whether this athletic suspension calibration would influence the sedan's overall character.
Our full test of the 2007 Infiniti G35 with an automatic transmission revealed that the car performed better than many competing sport sedans we'd tested to date. If this truly was the new leader of the pack, we had to have one.
April 07, 2008
This is one of my favorite transmissions in any car in the world. The shift action has the slick, mechanical feel of a bolt-action rifle. Trustworthy and precise, it reminds me of those terrific old Muncie transmissions you find in the 1960s Corvette Stingray.
Every transmission feels different. In a Honda S2000, the shift throws are short and the action is precise. In a Porsche Boxster, the throws are long and slightly vague to reduce effort, while the gear engagement is pronounced and precise. And in an old Mitsubishi Eclipse, it's like stirring a plastic rod in a box of rocks.
The transmission is the most complex example of mechanical engineering in a car. It's no wonder that racing drivers of past eras like Dan Gurney always have said that the thing that really set apart a Ferrari from other racing cars of his day was the durability of the transmission, its ability to stand up to both the torque loads of the engine and the brutality of an uncaring driver.
Of course, there are plenty of people who want more isolation from vibration and a lot less mechanical effort than you'll find in the G35S's transmission. The Getrag-built manual gearbox of the BMW 3 Series is what they talk about, and they're always blathering about quick shifts. After having put up with far too many tired Getrags with worn synchros and notchy gear engagement, it doesn't make any sense to me. Trying to make time by using the transmission just leads to expensive visits to your mechanic.
The G35S's Aichi Kikai-built manual transmission never confuses me about gate selection or gear engagement, and its totally mechanical feel is always a pleasure. If you understand that a shift lever is more than a funny arcade-style wand sticking out of the console, then you'll really appreciate the Infiniti G35S's transmission.
Michael Jordan, Edmunds.com Executive Editor @ 21,230 miles
April 03, 2008
As our G35 prepares to depart the Edmunds Long Term fleet, I was initially struck with..., well I didn't really care much. It's a great car and all but I'd never get the Sport version and the six-speed manual only appeals to me when I picture myself living in Nebraska or Montana or anywhere that's not Los Angeles.
Just as I was all set to not care about the car leaving, I had a glance at the window sticker - $37,400 including Premium Package and Navigation. For that price our car has a Bose stereo w/ hard drive, Bluetooth, real time traffic info for the nav system, sunroof, power memory for seats, mirrors and steering wheel, heated seats and one touch windows all around.
Here's where our Long Term 2008 CTS with DI comes in, it has similar features and is a similar kind of car only it's $9,000 MORE EXPENSIVE. I love our CTS but it's not $9,000 better than the G35. Granted the CTS has an $8,000 option package but that includes stuff like a Bose stereo w/ nav, XM traffic, heated leather seats, power tilt/telescope wheel, memory seats and an Ultra View sunroof.
I never realized what a bargain the G35 is. I don't think I properly appreciated the car. Now, I'm sorry it's leaving.
Brian Moody, Road Test Editor
March 24, 2008
Um, that's not good. The right front Bridgestone on our 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport has been curb crunched to the point of two large lacerations. For the record, it wasn't me. But I did check the car's tire pressures when I discovered the damage. No problems to report, 33 psi all around, just as Infiniti recommends. BTW, I also checked the oil which was at proper operating level.
Since the tire is holding air and the G's 12 months in our fleet are quickly coming to a close, we'll probably just pretend those huge jagged slices of sidewall aren't out there flapping in the breeze. And when that doesn't work we'll Krazy Glue them back into place.
Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 19, 841 miles
March 24, 2008
Motohiro Matsumara says the VQ35 V6 in the Infiniti G35 began as a kind of lucky guess and became a success by accident. He designed it, so he should know.
Nissan built Japan's first V6 in volume production for an automobile, and when it introduced the VG30 V6 in the 1984 300ZX, the company was so proud that it took journalists to the engine foundry to see the aluminum cylinder heads being cast. For Nissan, it was a big thing to break away from the inline-6 engine that had defined the company since the 1960s.
That's where Motohiro Matsumura comes in. When Nissan went to redesign its V6 for 1994, Matsumura was put in charge of the project. Ever since he had first arrived at the company, he had become something of an expert in forced-induction engines. He'd started with the little 1988 Nissan March's compound engine and then later worked on Nissan's turbocharged Group C V6 for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The VQ seemed like a big assignment to him at the time, though the senior Nissan engineers simply asked him to pay special attention to controlling noise and vibration in what would be one of the first all-aluminum V6 engines in volume production.
As Matsumura tells us, he decided that a soundly engineered structure is the best way to keep an aluminum engine from vibrating and making noise. So he just put his racing instincts to work, making sure the parts were rigid as well as lightweight. It was a lesson he'd learned with turbocharged engines. And because this V6's bones were sound, it became relatively easy to coax more horsepower out of it without compromising reliability. It seems so simple, doesn't it? That's what Matsumura says, anyway.
Some complain that the VQ's mechanical soul is way too apparent in the way it vibrates, but this is what makes it terrific. The G35's VQ35 revs cleanly from idle right to redline, and its throttle response is crisp and precise, so unlike other V6 engines that are either soggy, low-revving lumps like those from GM, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, or torqueless screamers like those from Chrysler and Honda.
Matsumura's lucky accident worked out for him, as he went on to develop the turbocharged version of the SR21 inline-4, became chief of Nissan's engine testing department, and just recently became the president of Nissan's engineering facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As for the VQ, it has been one of Ward's 10 Best Engines ever since the award was created 14 years ago.
Not too bad for a lucky guess.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,831 miles
March 17, 2008
As much as I like our G35, it's never impressed me in the looks department. There's something about its soft lines that leave me a little cold. Then there are the wheels. Like most Japanese and American sedans, the design of the G35’s wheels do little to highlight its rear-wheel drive layout... If Infiniti had done it right, the rear wheels in the picture above would have a deep dish to them instead of looking so slab sided. It's such a simple visual clue, yet only the Germans seem to have figured it out. Just take a look at the rear wheels on a BMW 5 Series to see what I'm talking about.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,811 miles
March 04, 2008
Playing smashmouth football means running the ball down the throat of the defense. It means punishing blocking and bone-crunching impacts. In a word, it's brutish. And so it is with our long-term Infiniti G35 Sport. This is a wonderfully capable car, but there's an undeniable edginess to it as well. It's the brute of the sport-sedan segment.
First of all, it's got brutish acceleration, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Then there's the brutish engine note above 5,000 rpm, in stark contrast to the VQ's turbine-like hum under more civilized circumstances. Unfortunately, there's also some moderately brutish accelerator vibration north of 5k -- when you really get on it, the pedal starts to shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture.
Wait, there's more. The shifter vibrates menacingly at all engine speeds; it's like the lever is hardwired to the rumbling heart of the engine. That's pretty brutish. Clutch effort is brutish, too, and despite that new slave cylinder, the minuscule takeup-point is just plain brutal.
I suspect these traits are why the G35 keeps playing second fiddle to BMW's 3 Series in comparo after comparo (yeah, I know, it came in first in our last sport-sedan shootout -- read the fine print, though, and you'll see that it was the G's bang-for-the-buck that put it on top, not its performance per se). If you've ever driven a 3 Series, you can probably think of a number of apt adjectives to describe the experience, but I can tell you right now that "brutish" won't be one of them.
Truth be told, I love driving the G. But Nissan/Infiniti's powertrain guys have got to dial up the refinement somehow. Not that this would ever happen, but, Skyline-spec RB26DETT inline-six, anyone?Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,086 miles
February 25, 2008
At 18,563 miles it's time for a fuel economy update on our long-term G35 Sport.
So here's the data:
Best tank: 26.0 mpg
Worst tank: 14.2 mpg
Average mpg to date: 19.7
Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 18,563 miles
February 22, 2008
Walking around our G35 Sport after Wednesday's antics in the wet I noticed something strange through the wheelwell opening.
February 20, 2008
Our Long Term G35 is sort of like a really cute girl you might meet at the supermarket, a really cute girl that would be great for someone else. The G35 S is good looking, comfortable, quick, fun and stylish - all great qualities. It's just that the car doesn't have that certain something - FOR ME.
I'm not sure if it's the stiff seats or the stiff ride, I just don't find myself really connecting with the car.
Certainly, I would not get the S model - my perfect G35 would be a Journey with two options. True Market Value pricing is about $35,000.
Yes our G35 S has an amazing engine and the 6 speed manual has perfectly spaced gears. It's also very attractive - I can certainly see how others would fall for this car. I'll bet G35 owners are the type that never look at another car twice knowing the car they have is all they've ever wanted. And I can't blame them.
One thing I do like is Infiniti's presentation. I like the somewhat premium looking interior with plenty of chrome trim and that oval clock. The audio system is also very good with plenty of different media options. The G35 really is a great car - just not for me.
Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.