"Superb powertrain, maybe the best available in this price range." "Dynamically, this thing is a winner. So capable, so confidence-inspiring." "The best-looking new sport coupe on the road today." "Balance, poise, good driver feedback--finally, a real driver's car from Infiniti." "The G35 will keep the folks in Munich working overtime." "These cars rock...."
These comments come from the Car of the Year test logbooks that rode along with the Infiniti G35 Sport Sedan and Sport Coupe during our multiweek evaluation process. There are pages more of these observations, and although the words are different, the sentiments remain the same: These are terrific machines.
BMW may have invented the modern midsize sport sedan, and few would argue that the 5 Series in many ways still defines it. But with the new G35 Sport Sedan, Infiniti has capitalized on the formula, applied its own brand of cool, casual luxury, added an impressive measure of performance, and brought the whole thing in at price levels on a par with--or below--the smaller 3 Series. The sinuous G35 Sport Coupe carves out its own piece of the marketplace--and does so again with style, performance, luxury, and value for money.
Both Sport Coupe and Sedan are based on an all-new Front Mid-ship (FM) platform, which also underpins Nissan's new 350Z--a good omen for the performance-oriented driver--and will form the basis for several more Infiniti and Nissan products that will appear over the next few years. The notion behind FM is that the engine is placed as far back, and as low, in the engine compartment as is feasible, the goal being better front/rear weight distribution. In this case, mission accomplished, as the G35 boasts a near perfect 52/48 front/rear weight bias.
Don't think of the Sport Coupe as just a shortened version of the four-door. In fact, the G Men ride on the same 112.2-inch wheelbase, and the platform's short front and rear overhangs help maximize cabin space. Though they're clearly related, they don't share a single body panel. Coming up with a design that's fresh, well-proportioned, and cleanly detailed has often proven a challenge for most Japanese carmakers, but Infiniti has done the job with the Gs. The Sport Sedan's airy greenhouse is attractive, and its flanks are clutter free. Its front styling is recognizably Infiniti and makes successful use of a vertical headlight treatment. Strong and well balanced wheel/tire/fenderwell relationships give the G35 Sport Sedan a look of substance.
Ah, the Sport Coupe. It recasts the sedan's familial flavor in fastback coupe form--and then loads on the garlic. This is a spicy-looking machine, with hunkering proportions--especially evident in its muscular rear shoulders--purposeful rolling stock, and an even more aggressive stance. Jewelry, in the form of Xenon headlamps, LED taillights, and polished dual exhausts, adds more visual interest. But enough fancy design talk: The G35 Sport Coupe simply looks fabulous.
Each model gets its own different variation of Infiniti's outstanding VQ35 3.5-liter DOHC all-aluminum V-6, incorporating the company's Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS). The engine is rated at 260 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque in the Sport Sedan and is backed by a five-speed automatic transmission featuring a sequential shift control. A six-speed manual will be available early in 2003. A higher state of tune and a (howling, burbling, awesome-sounding!) full dual-exhaust system give the Sport Coupe's version of the VQ 280 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Coupe buyers may choose between the same five-speed manumatic or a quick-shifting six-speed manual. These machines are fast: The sedan gets from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, with the coupe scoring a musclecar-like 5.8.
No automobile can legitimately be dubbed a sport coupe/sedan unless it delivers agile handling, well-damped body control, communicative steering, strong braking, and confident high-speed stability. Both Gs serve up these important traits in spades. The all-steel unit body is structurally stiff, which allows for precise suspension tuning and the taut, communicative feel that results from it. Infiniti has engineered both models with lightweight aluminum independent multilink suspension and an anti-roll bar front and rear.
The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering--speed sensitive in the coupe--is crisp weighted, and provides good road surface feedback. Infiniti didn't scrimp on the rolling stock either: 16-inch wheels and tires are standard on the sedan, with a performance-oriented 17-inch combo optional as part of a Sport Suspension package, with stiffer shocks, springs, and bushings. The coupe goes a step further, with stiffer suspension and 17s standard and 18-inch wheels/tires. Both of our test cars were Sport Pack-equipped, and our slalom test handling results were impressive: The four-door cleared the cones at 65.6 mph, and the coupe performed the same trick at a Corvette-beating 66.1.
They stop as good as they go, too. Both get four-wheel vented disc brakes with four-channel ABS, the coupe's being supplied by Brembo, the same Italian company that puts brakes on Ferraris. Our sedan stopped from 60 mph in an impressive 114 feet; the coupe at an even more exotic-carlike 112. A good measure of the G35s handling prowess and high speed stability is attributable to the considerable aerodynamic work that went into not only the bodywork, but underneath the car as well. The sedan, for example, has a low 0.27 coefficient of drag with zero-degree front lift; order the optional aero package (rear spoiler and rear-floor side fairing), and the Cd drops to 0.26, with zero lift front and rear. Impressive.
The G's cabin design is sporty and luxurious, casual and architectural. Its metal-look panels and switchgear recall the flavor of high-tech electronics gear. The gauges are clustered in a binnacle front and center that moves up and down in concert with steering-wheel adjustment, always keeping the instruments in clear view. Both of our test cars were Leather-equipped models, and everyone on our staff found the seating comfortable, supportive, and attractive. The rear-passenger compartment provides generous knee/leg/foot/shoulder room. Since both cars share the same wheelbase, the coupe's seats can be inhabited by full-size adults as well. Or fold the rear seatback flat for an extra-large cargo area. Infiniti offers a wide variety of sound system options, including top-line Bose units and an integrated DVD-based nav system with a retractable screen.
Dual-stage front airbags, front seat bags, and front/rear curtain side-impact airbags are the basis of the G's occupant-protection hardware. The brake pedal retracts to minimize leg injury; the front seatbelts have adjustable anchors, pretensioners, and load limiters; and the rear seats have LATCH child-seat anchorage tethers. Infiniti's Vehicle Security and Immobilizer system is standard, as is an interior-mounted first-aid kit.
Gripes? Few. Some staffers feel the taillights are oddly shaped. A few others say some of the switchgear is too small and that some of the markings are too difficult to read. But every editor feels that the console-area's sprayed-on metal finish on the console area appears substandard. Unused accessory switch plugs molded into the console are clearly visible, dulling the last degree of what is otherwise a nice interior. Infiniti makes up for it in performance... ...and value. Base prices range from the cloth-interior-equipped Sport Sedan at $27,100 up to the six-speed version of the Sport Coupe at $32,050. Substantively optioned versions of each are in the $33,000-$35,000 range, depending on how many extras you desire. Compare that to the midsize German marques, and you'll understand the G35's strong price/value equation.
"This design is solid, appealing, and fresh without being off-beat." "A fine road car; a wonderful sport sedan." "Smooth, appealing powertrains." "This six-speed is a joy to row through." "What a nice ride, and quiet, too." "How do they do this at these price levels?" The quotes keep coming for Infiniti's G35 Sport Sedan and Sport Coupe. Here's one to add: "Motor Trend 2003 Car of the Year."
| ||2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Sedan||2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, rwd||Front engine, rwd|
|Engine type||60* V-6 alum block/hds, LEV||60* V-6 alum block/hds, LEV|
|Valve gear||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|Bore x stroke, in/mm||3.76x3.20 / 95.5x81.4||3.76x3.20 / 95.5x81.4|
|Displacement, ci/cc||213.5 / 3498||213.5 / 3498|
|Horsepower @ rpm||260 @ 6000||280 @ 6200|
|Torque @ rpm||260 @ 4800||270 @ 4800|
|Transmission||5-speed automatic||6-speed manual|
|Suspension, front; rear||Upper & lower control arms, anti-roll bar, multilink, anti-roll bar||Upper & lower control, arms, anti-roll bar, multilink, anti-roll bar|
|Brakes, front; rear||11.7-in vented disc; 11.5-in vented disc, ABS||12.8-in vented disc; 13.1-in vented disc, ABS|
|Wheels, front; rear||17x7.0-in cast alum||18x8.0-in cast alum|
|Tires, front; rear||215/55WR17; 215/55WR17 Goodyear Eagle GS-D||225/45WR18; 245/45WR18 Michelin Pilot Sport|
|Track, f/r, in||59.1/59.3||60.4/60.8|
|Legroom, f/r, in||43.9/36.2||43.8/31.4|
|Shoulder room, f/r, in||56.4/55.5||53.7/52.7|
|Headroom, f/r, in||40.1/37.9||39.2/34.7|
|Curb weight, lb||3369||3435|
|Weight, f/r, %||52/48||53/47|
|Cargo capacity, cu ft||14.5||7.8|
|Fuel capacity, gal||20.0||20.0|
|Acceleration, sec|| || |
|1/4 mile, sec @ mph||14.68 @ 97.08||14.23 @ 99.4|
|Braking, 60-0 mph, ft||114||112|
|600-ft slalom, mph||65.6||67.1|
|Turning circle, ft||36.0||37.4|
|Top gear rpm @ 60 mph||1900||2200|
|On sale in U.S.||Currently||Currently|
|Base price/price as tested||$27,100/$30,925||$32,050/$32,595|
|Airbags||Dual front/sides, front & rear side-curtain||Dual front/sides, front & rear side-curtain|
|EPA mpg, city/hwy||19/26||20/26 |
|Range, city/hwy, miles||380/520||400/520|
|Basic warranty||4 yrs/60,000 miles||4 yrs/60,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty||6 yrs/70,000 miles||6 yrs/70,000 miles|
|Recommended fuel||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|