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    Infiniti G37x Sport

    2009 Infiniti G37X Sport (Photo copyright ©2009 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.).

    "Being close" matters with horseshoes, hand grenades and misguided arithmetic. In past years, the Infiniti G sedan has been close, but compared to the Kaiser of the Klasse, BMW's 3 Series, the G35 was near the stake, but not a ringer. "Almost as good," we'd all nod, "but its biggest strength is that it's a bargain."

    When the G37 arrived, our initial thought was it was simply an amplified G35, a car that's delighted our socks off in the past. But same car, bigger engine isn't the whole of the story. Just as gourmet chefs tinker with recipes, Infiniti has made adjustments. Embracing the spirit of Kaizen, Infiniti refuses to leave well enough alone, and the G37XS doesn't need to trade as heavily on its value proposition anymore. The G line has always driven well, but there's always been compromise, too. Cheap interiors, choppy ride – a history of "not quite." Has the G improved to the point of full greatness? And what happens when you add all-wheel drive to the mix? We hit the road to find out.

    This car's suit of armor was new with the V36 version of the G, and it's already very subtly changed for 2009 (it's due to undergo another transformation next week). A different front airdam is the most noticeable modification, but only ADHD kids loaded to the teeth with Ritalin would notice. G35 owners might appreciate the continuity of form, and it's a shape that doesn't have any major flaws. It's less outré than some of its segment-mates, but still modern, attractive and un-vanilla. The line down the flanks breaks light cleanly over the G37's surface, and the sculpting of the hood still hints at pontoon fenders, just as it did on the G35 back in 2007. Our test model wore its Moonlight White, sport-package wheels and trunk spoiler well, coming across as simultaneously sporty and sophisticated.

    When the G35 debuted on Nissan's FM platform, its interior was nearly Nineties Sentra-grade. The major rework in 2007 saw a massive upgrade to a class-competitive cabin which has been further augmented in the G37. The fancy-feeling metallic trim with washi-paper finish is classy, and the materials and fit and finish are finally up to snuff. The door panels are newly adorned with soft touch material this year, too.

    The G37 makes you feel less cheated if you skip the navigation system by still coddling you in relative luxury with a seven-inch LCD screen that glares uselessly back like HAL 9000's red eye. Tan leather (Infiniti says Wheat) coats the G37's fantastic seats (really, all cars should come with an extendable lower cushion for extra thigh support) and made our G light and airy. Bright surfaces do require more fastidious cleaning, so you might want to go darker if your Newfoundland rides shotgun.

    Front thrones that make 1,000-mile days seem exciting are a high point for the G37, and Infiniti has gotten most of the ergonomics right. The interface for the navigation and other tech features combines an iDrive-like wheely/buttony thing with a touchscreen, which we figured out after we spent an hour swearing at the thing. The small "back" button to the lower left also made life easier once we found it. The G37 brings redesigned seat heater switches and a Bose "Studio on Wheels" that marks the first time a digital-to-analog microchip is being touted as a selling feature – one of the only Bose systems we've been impressed with in recent memory.

    The powertrain is where the real metamorphosis has occurred. Nissan's lauded VQ V6, a superhero of workaday engines, has bulked up to 3.7 liters. Now good for 328 horsepower, this versatile and long-serving engine continues to be incredible after this thorough reworking has added deck height to the block for more stroke. It's relatively big, but won't hesitate to zing its pistons into a frothy steeplechase for the top of the tachometer. Power is strong everywhere, and it shoves the G around with far more authority than its 269 pound-feet of torque would indicate. There's a particularly muscular rush from 2,500 rpm onward thanks to VVEL variable valve timing and lift. Though there have been complaints lodged against the VQ's aural quality, we suspect those whiners are likely overly enamored with the classic V8 rhythm. This thing barks with authority and sounds great, especially tearing toward its 7,600 rpm redline. We spent enough time cracking the drive-by-wire throttles open that we saw 20 mpg, easily within the 18/25 range the EPA says to expect.

    Along with the bigger lungs, the G37 picks up an extra ratio for its automatic transmission, now up to seven. The ballet of clutch/throttle/shifter is still served by the available six-speed manual transmission, but the auto 'box not only refines the G, it's got an extra gear to play with, subsequently changing the character of the car. The manual is better in theory than in execution; the clutch is a vague, frustrating thing. In contrast, the seven-speed automatic is smooth and quick, delivering precise changes devoid of the hunting and pecking found on some of the competition. Shift paddles rendered in magnesium are there for those who want to play, as well as a gate for sport/manual mode. Not all cars with manual-gated automatics are successful, but the G37 pulls it off by being responsive and obedient, with rev-matching downshifts for an added bit of balance and excitement.

    With more engine-room oomph, there comes a time when kinetic energy must be converted to heat. A revised braking system is standard on Sport models with four-piston front calipers and two piston rears augmented by gizmos like brake force distribution, brake assist and preview braking that gives the binders a shot of adrenaline in panic stops. We either never had to call on these technology to save our skins, or the systems are totally transparent in operation. The power steering system also twiddles with weighting in deference to the vehicle's speed. At times it can feel too light and it's not quite as pure and direct as you'll find in the famous Germans, but you'd never know it by the way we were grinning as we tore off in search of another apex. Some of the steering feel dilution may boil down to the all-wheel-drive nature of the G37X we drove, but any disconnection at the helm is made up for with the additional front grip.

    The ride and handling balance is what's always been difficult for challengers to match compared to the established champions. Infiniti has achieved a nearly perfect supple but sporty alchemy in the G37. Occasions of harshness are very rare, and the G is quiet and restrained until its time to bare fangs. The exhaust note is also an ever-present reminder of the sports car platform underneath. The chassis is controlled and athletic; Infiniti has been hitting the books, and now the understudy knows all the lead's lines by heart.

    The G37 may be the point where Infiniti's upstart challenge comes fully into its own. All of the qualifiers used on earlier Gs have been erased. The G37 is as serious as those with which it intends to compete. It's got a sumptuous interior as standard equipment, its performance is truly that of a sports car wrapped in sedan bodywork, and the changes wrought with the larger engine and extra shiftability give the G37 a sheen of refinement. Considering the $43,000 price of our well-equipped G37XS, you're never going to miss whatever je ne sais quois you think might be baked in to cars from The Continent, and yes, the G37 is still a far better deal.

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    1 - 20 of 23 Comments
    arvig Sep 24, 2010 10:13 AM
    holway5 posted this wee tidbit: "The only (non-starter) problem is that it looks like a Camry/Accord/Maxima/Lexus/Altima...and so on, and so on. I'm now convinvced that every Japanese car is stamped at the same factory by the same dudes and the last guy on the line has a 'logo box' from which he grabs one...any one will do...and slaps one on the front, one on the back and off to America it goes. This is yet another ugly jap car that should be sent home on the boat with all the other ugly Jap cars. Doesn't anybody in the land of the homogenous people ever have a different idea?" My reply: Ayep. Well you're just here to troll anyway, but I'm convinced you're vision is complete garbage based on your reply. Oh well, some people have to post drivel just to get attention.
    Report This
    arvig Sep 24, 2010 10:11 AM
    sreid26107 posted this ************** just an ugly Nissan rebadged like Lexus is to Toyota, They are both making the same mistakes GM and Chrysler did years ago thank god they have woke up so I have a real car to drive." My reply: Uh-huh. I have a 2009 G37x Coupe. It's no more a rebaged Nissan then a Cadillac is a rebaged Chevy or a Lincoln is a rebaged Ford. So, if you feel this is a rebadged Nissan, then I suggest you START calling a Caddy a rebadged Chevy and so forth then. :P
    Report This
    inamesf Dec 03, 2009 12:51 AM
    Whoa, what a cloun! This piece of writing would be kinda OK in maybe 2005, but not in December 2009. So, Danny boy, stop smocking what you've been smoking for the past five years and start learning about cars, especially luxury ones.
    Report This
    holway5 Dec 02, 2009 7:59 PM
    The only (non-starter) problem is that it looks like a Camry/Accord/Maxima/Lexus/Altima...and so on, and so on. I'm now convinvced that every Japanese car is stamped at the same factory by the same dudes and the last guy on the line has a 'logo box' from which he grabs one...any one will do...and slaps one on the front, one on the back and off to America it goes. This is yet another ugly jap car that should be sent home on the boat with all the other ugly Jap cars. Doesn't anybody in the land of the homogenous people ever have a different idea?
    Report This
    giohec Dec 02, 2009 7:27 PM
    i just wanted to say that the infiniti G37X is awsome car
    Report This
    giohec Dec 02, 2009 7:22 PM
    Helllllllllllllloooooooo peopleeeeeeeeee whatt is going onnnnn in the hiiiss house hoooot hoooooot!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Report This
    dougporetz Dec 02, 2009 7:05 PM
    I have a G37X Coupe, which I think is better looking than the sedan. Before this car, I had a BMW 645 convertible; before that a Porsche 911; before that, a Jaguar XJS; I have been driving cars of that ilk for the past 40 years or so .... This is the best car I have ever driven. I originally bought it because 1) i was sick and tired of BMW's totally user-UNfriendly "i-drive" and 2) i didn't like the idea of seeing so many $$ assets sitting inb my garage in the form of a car. At first, I thoiught the Infiniti was a smart car for me but was hardly a car I "loved" -- when people asked me about my new car I said it was fine, very good, OK -- compliments but not love." A few weeks ago I driove the car about 800 miles to florida -- to make a long-story short, I now really 'love" this car -- it is great driving and extraordinarily comfortable. I've never before turned off the ignition after driving 7 or 8 hours feeling like i could just keep driving. There are some flaws (the onscreen phone book doesn't import many numbers from my cell phone, for example and some of the screen systems do need to be learned), but oiverall, this is a great car. I thinbk it not only beats BMW 3 series, but given the choice between this car and my old BMW 645, I'd take this car in a heartbeat.
    Report This
    ifuseekamy00 Dec 02, 2009 6:52 PM
    gulfsid, not everyone has to drive a 4 cylinder. Some us will pay a little more for the thrill of horsepower.
    Report This
    ifuseekamy00 Dec 02, 2009 6:50 PM
    Looking for a car last year I test drove the BMW 5 series and the Infinity. Guess which one I bought.....yep the Infinity. In my opinion, this is a much nicer ride.
    Report This
    gulfsid810 Dec 02, 2009 6:48 PM
    This vehicle would be more relevant to todays market if it was about 900 pounds lighter and powered by a strong 4 cylinder engine that get 30 - 40 mpg. ********** needs to go 0- 60 in 5 seconds?
    Report This
    holifibl Dec 02, 2009 6:29 PM
    I own a 2008 Infiniti G35x and I love the car. The ride and interior is better than the competing BMW and Mercedes Benz. I don't understand why some people insist on buying a BMW or Mercedes Benz...they are over priced, come standard with leatherette and the ride is subpar for the price. A luxury vehicle should ALWAYS come standard with leather interior.
    Report This
    floatgod Dec 02, 2009 6:24 PM
    You guys and your comments make me laugh. You make fun of it but you drool ****** sales figures. Another car to eat Detroit's lunch and all you guys can do is make sarcastic remarks? The Japs are shuddering in their boots. Ha, ha!
    Report This
    stevenowensasa Dec 02, 2009 6:18 PM
    It is awsome, it is like the BMW 3 series, but with good electronics.
    Report This
    buildergi Dec 02, 2009 6:12 PM
    Looks like an Altima. No style. Interior is nice.
    Report This
    zippygas10 Dec 02, 2009 6:01 PM
    I'm sorry which rebadged Nissan is it again????
    Report This
    chami90655 Dec 02, 2009 5:46 PM
    This car has been out all year, and AOL is just posting a review on it? This model was reviewed in car magazines IN 2008...... Great car, just about any year..... the G's rock!
    Report This
    dseils2 Dec 02, 2009 5:28 PM
    We've been hearing about potential 3 series beaters for years... this is just the same garbage from BMW competitors. The 3 series is the best sports sedan out there.
    Report This
    competitionready Dec 02, 2009 5:28 PM
    Really liked driving the G35x, I'm pretty sure this exceeds previous similar models. L@@KS SEXY> Author was dry and boring.
    Report This
    nsarmento Dec 02, 2009 5:27 PM
    I own a 1999 Infiniti G20T...and it is STILL the most bitchin' car I've ever seen or driven. It still drives, rides and runs like a charm at 10 years old. I'm going to drive it until it falls apart, which at this rate will be at least another 10-15 years. GREAT CARS!
    Report This
    denny70947 Dec 02, 2009 5:19 PM
    Ok, improved, but, as you said, close only works in horseshoes. What makes a BMW great is it's handling and power. The Japanese have not changed, just like their economy, they are excellent at copying--but innovation is not their strong suit. This shows in the resale value.
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    We review Infiniti's new sports sedan and the 2009 Infiniti G37X Sport makes no excuses
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