2011 Infiniti G25 Expert Review:Autoblog
Thanks to years of dedicated work and impressive engineering, Infiniti has earned a reputation for being the "Japanese BMW." Like the German automaker, Infiniti's U.S. entries are decidedly more performance oriented, but the brand's decision to install the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter V6 in its G Sedan had us wondering if things were changing... and not for the better.
Follow the jump to find out if our suspicions have been confirmed.
Photos copyright ©2010 Rex Roy / AOL
Here's the background: For Infiniti to continue expanding its U.S. sales, the company's marketing department listened to some important feedback from their dealers. Specifically, some buyers – particularly those of the fairer persuasion – thought the standard 328-horsepower V6 in the G Sedan was just too much. Scary, even. So... no sale. After hearing what its white-knuckled customers wanted, the company decided to add a less powerful G Sedan to its U.S. lineup. Easy peasy.
The decision didn't take much soul searching or re-engineering, as Infiniti sells this exact same product in China. The G25, with Its 2.5-liter VQ engine, is otherwise nearly identical to the larger 3.5- and 3.7-liter versions we've seen here in the U.S. Additionally, fans of the Japanese domestic market version of this sedan, called the Skyline, know that the earliest version of the VQ25 engine hit the home market in 2006, and that it's no boat anchor, that's for sure.
So, for buyers who want the G Sedan but not every ounce of its sporty goodness, the VQ25VHR completes their bingo card. Compared to the former standard engine of the G Sedan line, the bore and stroke have been reduced to displace 2.5 liters, but the block is the same. Important features like double-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing (in-phase intake and exhaust) are retained. The only missing modern miracle is variable intake valve lift, a feature standard on the larger engine.
Horsepower totals 218 at 6,400 rpm, with peak torque of 187 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm. Redline remains at a lofty 7,500 rpm, a figure that helps earn the motor its Very High Rev (VHR) moniker. We doubt those Rs will be enjoyed very often by timid drivers slogging their way to work, but there's always hope.
The smaller engine bolts to the same seven-speed automatic as its big brother, and all remaining driveline and chassis components are identical between the G25 and base G37 models (including brakes and tires). So close are the vehicles that curb weights tips in favor of the G25 by less than 100 pounds. Given the car's intended audience, Infiniti's six-speed manual isn't available.
The drop in displacement bumps economy up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway from the G37's 19/27 mpg figures. The G25's highway figure makes one wonder what it would have taken to reach a more promotable 30 mpg, or something even higher. It seems that giving up 110-horsepower would justify a greater mpg gain.
Because it basically is the G37 we've come to know and love, though, the G25 feels very familiar, except slower. How slow? To be honest, we don't know.
Driving around the tourist infested vineyards of Napa, CA didn't allow us the opportunity to perform any instrumented testing (we didn't have the equipment and the local sheriff would have frowned on the activity), but our calibrated backside estimates the G25 to be a mid-seven second 0-60 mph sprinter – about two seconds slower than a G37 fitted with an automatic. For buyers moving up from a four-cylinder compact or mid-size sedan, the G25 will still feel quick, but not as impressive – or apparently scary – as the G37 can be.
Laying into the throttle moves the car off the line smartly and the seven-speed quickly swaps one cog for another. The revs build cleanly and smoothly, but anyone who's driven a G37 will miss the 82 pound-feet of torque normally twisting the driveshaft to rocket you from apex to apex.
Braking, steering and handling performance remain pure Infiniti – always impressing – and in the G25, driving to preserve momentum becomes the challenge. The 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in all-season rubber are capable playmates, gripping with eager tenacity.
Behind the wheel, the be-buttoned, be-wheeled and otherwise be-dazzled dash interface takes some getting used to. Give it an hour (while parked) and you'll get the hang of it. What won't ever be acceptable is the center LCD. The G25 gets a low-resolution display that lacks contrast and clarity. Glare is also a major problem, and for some inexplicable reason, the navigation package that's optional on the G37 isn't offered. Too bad, because its upgraded screen is crisp and bright.
This engine and electronic decontenting will set you back $30,950 – a price drop of about $2,800 from last year's base G37 sedan, already recognized as a winning value proposition. Two additional G25 models are on sale now: the G25 Sedan Journey ($32,350) and the G25x Sedan AWD ($33,950). The base price includes standard features such as Xenon headlights, leather seating, eight-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control and a comprehensive electronic stability control system, so while the engine might not have as much pep, there's plenty of luxury to keep your mind off easy-does-it acceleration.
So how does the 2011 G25 compare to the "always the benchmark" BMW 3-Series? The base 2010 328i retails for $33,150, and while BMW has the power edge with 230 horsepower without a meaningful difference in mpg (28 highway), and even with the Value Package BMW now includes at no extra cost, the G25 still bests the Bimmer on the features front, offering things such as an extra gear in the transmission and Xenon lamps for more than $2,000 less.
Apparently, Infiniti's value proposition even works in the case of slower motion.
Photos copyright ©2010 Rex Roy / AOL
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