Future Models - Infiniti 2011 G Coupe
First drive: Infiniti G37 has class, from A to Zed
Zed with more: The Infiniti G37 is more refined than the Nissan 370Z on which it is based.
Infiniti G37 coupe set to pave the way for Nissan’s luxury brand Down Under
26 April 2011
THE sporty G37 coupe will be crucial to the success of the Infiniti roll out in Australia next year.
With Infiniti starting off with negligible brand recognition here, it will be the relatively affordable G37 coupe’s role to promote the brand as a serious sports luxury player.
After a brief test of the American version in California, it is clear the car will be up to the task.
That’s no surprise, as the G37 is based on the 370Z, so it has street cred right from the start.
While it is clear the two vehicles are related, there are still some differences between them.
The first is the level of refinement. The Zed is a great sports coupe, but no one would accuse it of being refined. Sharp, responsive, explosively fast, yes, but not refined.
The sledgehammer VQ Zed V6 delivers the firepower required for a high-performance machine, but it sounds thrashy when pressed. This is not a smooth in-line experience of its forebears but you put up with it for the performance. The Zed’s six-speed manual is also a rough unit.
The G37 gives a different impression. Firstly, it is only available in automatic.
Secondly, a lot of work has gone into suppressing the sound of the engine. The harshness is muffled, although the exhaust still produces a meaty note.
It still produces enough power to shoot the G37 forward at an exhilarating rate. The power and torque is almost identical to the Zed’s powerplant, with 243kW at 7000rpm (down 2kW) and 366Nm at 5200rpm (up 3kW).
We don’t have an accurate 0-100km/h time yet, but the Infiniti is unlikely to match the 370Z.
That is simply a matter of weight. The Infiniti is longer, has two extra seats and a load more luxury gear which adds about 130kg to the tally for a total of 1647kg, which is still respectable.
The transmission, a sport-tuned torque converter type unit, is a competent gearbox and shifts quickly via paddles mounted on the steering column.
The fact they are mounted on the column and not the wheel itself means they don’t move when the wheel is turned into a corner, and losing touch with the paddles can be off-putting.
We drove the G37 on a mixture of suburban streets and Californian freeways and were therefore unable to test the Infiniti on any twisty tarmac, but the car did seem to be fairly agile.
Our car was fitted with optional 19-inch rims and firmer suspension rates that come with the Sport package.
It didn’t seem to have quite the same razor-like responsiveness as the 370Z, which is brilliant, but was still sharp. The firmness of the suspension was a surprise in a car made for America, given its natural preference for pillow softness.
The rough roads around Los Angeles and the ‘thunkedy-thunk’ expansion joints didn’t help the ride quality, so we will have to wait until the car gets to Australia for a proper evaluation.
Those two extra seats sound appealing and could help a lot of people justify the purchase of a sports coupe, but they shouldn’t be considered proper adult seats.
This writer’s head touched the roof when sitting in the back, but short people and children should be fine.
Apart from the ability to carry adults a short distance, or smaller people for longer runs, the seats and footwells offer a handy area for carrying items such as soft bags and jackets.
The G37’s boot is fairly shallow and not all that long, but would be sufficient for a couple of overnight bags or a full load of shopping.
The coupe is around 400mm longer than the 370Z, for a total of 4651mm, while the wheelbase is about 300mm longer at 2850mm.
Nissan has done a good job of elevating the G37’s interior away from that of the 370Z, and the first impression is that it is a class above it, with a mixture of metal-look trim, high-quality surfaces and supportive leather seats.
Our test car had a 3D satellite navigation system and colour centre screen with crisp resolution.
The success of Infiniti will depend on the specification level and pricing, but having good products like the G37 shows the brand should start off strongly.