2007 Infiniti G35 Sport: Matsumura's V6
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