Infiniti G37 – a fast and furious bargain

By Jim Meachen

The 2008 Infiniti G37 is a sports car for old and tired bodies. Bodies that now need a decent-sized driver’s seat and a good measure of right-side elbow room.

It’s a sports car that offers relatively easy entry and exit. No need to fall in or laboriously climb out. And that’s a wonderful attribute particularly after an afternoon of golf when the knees aren’t working quite up to their usual standards.

They call it a coupe. But by our definition the all-new Infiniti as well as several others, including the BMW 3-Series coupe and the Mercedes CLK-Class, fall into the comfort end of the luxury sports car spectrum.

We are of the opinion a vehicle doesn’t have to have just two useable seats and ride just scant inches above the ground to be considered a sports car. But it has to be endowed with a compact size, cutting-edge performance and slot-car handling that rival the smaller roadster-style sports cars such as the BMW Z4, the Corvette, the Porsche Boxster t
he Honda S2000 and the Nissan Z (a close relative).

The 2008 G37 has the credentials. And we of the AARP and “senior menu” set applaud the G37’s attributes.

It’s immensely fun to drive whether it be simply cruising the boulevard on a Saturday night or tearing up a winding stretch of rural asphalt on a Sunday afternoon.

Don’t count us out of the more mainstream sports cars, however. We can make it into and back out of anything with four wheels, and we can reach a comfortable driving position in most. To prove it, we drove a Z4 M Roadster and a Porsche 911 a week after the G37 left the premises. And we darn well enjoyed both rides. And we fit too.

But even if the G37 doesn’t quite reach the panache of those two stalwarts, we gravitated toward the comfort — and the relative bargain price — of the Infiniti.

We were rewarded with a car that has cat-like reflexes and performance measured in the mid-5-second range from 0-to-60.

The obligatory comparisons between the Infiniti and the BMW 3-Series, which started in earnest a few years ago upon release of the G35 coupe, are proliferating again on the pages of every major automobile magazine with the all-new G37 and the BMW 330i.

We’re not doing a comparison here. We’ve driven both cars and we say they are so close in every measurable way that it’s simply a matter of taste — and of pocketbook.

Depending on options, the G37 can save you between five and 10 grand over the BMW. That’s a lot of money for barely measurable differences.

While the G37, which started reaching showrooms in August, has retained basically the same dimensions as the previous G35 — growing in length by a mere inch to 183-inches  and keeping the same 112.2-inch wheelbase — horsepower has been increased a prodigious 55 to 330 with a new 3.7-liter version of Nissan’s workhorse VQ V-6 engine. Torque has edged up from 268 to 270 pound-feet.

Weight is also up a couple hundred pounds, which has presumably sapped some of the coupe’s new-found muscle. But the new G is still slightly faster than the former G with the ability to complete a quarter mile in around 14 seconds at more than 100 miles per hour.

Push the Infiniti up the rev band and not only are you rewarded with exceptional forward motivation, but a burbling exhaust note that will please any set of automotive loving ears.

The G37 is also adept at eating up winding roads, at a pace that matches the aforementioned 3-Series BMW. Steering is accurate with excellent feel.

We found the driving position to our liking and the controls generally intuitive. Interior materials have the look and feel of a luxury car as the Infiniti should.

We accomplished our tests in a mid-level Journey (something we used call touring) model with a five-speed automatic and a base price of $35,715. The only option on our test car was a $1,000 moonroof bringing the bottom line to a very comfortable $36,715.

While we think most people would be satisfied with this setup but there are performance options that will tempt many driving enthusiasts.

Go for the gold and opt for the Sport trim level, which brings 19-inch high performance tires, sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes and a six-speed manual transmission. That can be purchased for $36,265. To make the handling package complete, four-wheel active steering can be added for $1,300.

We think most people who want an extra measure of performance will leave the showroom with the Journey package, adding the $1,850 sport package, which brings the five-speed automatic with paddle shifters and adds on the tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels and high-performance tires, bigger brakes and sport-style seats.

Other options that may entice are navigation at $2,200 and a premium package that adds Bose sound with an MP3 interface system and Bluetooth connectivity and moonroof, among other things, for $3,200.

While the G37 is a painless way for advancing baby boomers with creaky joints to enjoy the attributes of a true sports car, it also has other advantages including a back seat that will accommodate two adults of moderate stature.

We carried two adults of average height in the back seat on different occasions. With the front seatbacks up about halfway on the track, both women said they had plenty of leg room. At the same time, they noted that head room was not a problem.

We belabor this point because other reviewers, who perhaps have no friends under 5-foot-11, have declared the rear seats uninhabitable by adults. If that be the case trade them in.

Getting in and back out is also relatively easy as the front seats can be powered forward with the push of a button. Like most coupes, you do have to find a way over or under the front seatbelt straps.

Trunk space is a scant 7.4 cubic feet, good enough for a week’s groceries or a couple of overnight bags.

But a long trip will be accomplished with only two people on board — we said the rear seats will accommodate two adults, but we don’t know anyone we would subject to that location for more than an hour or two — and that will free up more room because the rear seatback can be folded forward. That also allows enough space to handle two sets of golf clubs along with the luggage.

The G37 — starting at $34,965 for the base model — comes loaded with standard equipment. If you are careful about your options, you can have a well-outfitted, fast and furious luxury coupe at your disposal for less than 40 grand.

If there is such a thing as a $40,000 bargain, this is it.


Base price, $34,965; as driven, $36,715

Engine: 3.7-liter V-6

Horsepower: 330 @ 7,000 rpms

Torque: 270 pound-feet @ 5,200 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Drive: rear wheel

Seating: 2/2

Wheelbase: 112.2 inches

Length: 183.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,770 pounds

Turning circle: 36.1 feet

Luggage capacity: 7.4 cubic feet

Fuel capacity: 20 gallons (premium)

EPA mileage: 24 highway, 18 city

0-60: 5.4 seconds (Motor Trend)

Also consider: BMW 330i, Mercedes CLK, Audi TT

The Good

• Sexy good looks

• Great performance bang for the buck

• Luxury features at a good price

The Bad

• We wish for better gas mileage especially at the premium pump

The Ugly

• G37 is almost mid-sized with the trunk space of a roadster