October 13, 2006

Photo Gallery: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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Since it was introduced in 2002 as a 2003 model, Infiniti’s stylish G35 sedan has been a serious challenger for the class-leading BMW 3-Series sedans. With more horsepower, a roomier interior, and a lower price than comparably equipped BMWs, the G35 quickly became Infiniti’s most popular model – in Canada, the company sold over 14,000 in the last four years. It wasn’t able to de-throne the 3-Series, but it really was/is an excellent out-of-the-box effort.

For the 2007 model year (2007 models go on sale in November), the redesigned second generation G35 sedan retains, and in some cases improves upon, the first G35’s positive points while fixing some of its faults – not that there were many.

Styling update

At first glance, the 2007 G35’s styling appears to be just a refresh, but in fact the sheetmetal is all new. The new nose sports redesigned L-shaped headlamp covers and standard High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-xenon headlights, and the new aluminum hood is now separated from the grille and has a flowing ‘S’ shape which makes the front fenders more prominent. The G35’s redesigned grille now has four twisted chromed slats (inspired by traditional Japanese swords, says Infiniti) instead of two straight ones, and the bumper has three lower air intakes instead of two. In profile, the new G35 features a revised horizontal ‘character line’ that now wraps over the rear wheel arches. And at the rear, there’s a larger bumper, a new trunklid with integrated lip spoiler, redesigned LED taillights, and dual exhausts.

To give the whole car a sportier, more aggressive look, the A-pillar was moved back, the roof was lowered by 13 mm, and the track was widened by 19 mm. As American automobile advertisements used to say, “it’s longer, lower and wider”.

Mechanical upgrades

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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The G35’s 3.5-litre VQ-series V6, named one of the “Ten Best Engines” by Ward’s Auto World magazine for the past 12 years, has been significantly revised for 2007 with approximately 80% of its major parts redesigned. Horsepower is up to 306 from 275, matching the only other car in its class with that much power, the Lexus IS 350. In addition, the G35’s redline has been raised to 7500 from 6600 rpm. Torque is down slightly to 268 ft-lbs @ 5200 rpm from 270 @ 4800 rpm, but 90% of the torque is available between 2000 and 7000 rpm. Fuel economy has improved slightly to 12.6/8.6 city/hwy from 12.7/8.7 city/ hwy (L/100 km). However, Premium fuel is recommended.

Changes to the engine include the addition of standard variable exhaust cam timing (eCVTCS) on base models, a higher compression ratio, twin knock sensors, improved coolant flow and new Iridium spark plugs. As well, a new symmetric twin ram air intake system helps reduce airflow resistance by 18% and a new exhaust system design with equal length exhaust manifolds and reduced muffler exhaust pressure helps improve engine breathing. In addition, the engine has been lowered by 15 mm for better handling.

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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The G35’s revised second-generation FM (front-midship) platform is similar to that used on the Infiniti M35 and M45, and is 40% stiffer than the previous platform, according to Infiniti. As before, the FM platform locates the engine behind the front axle to provide a better front-to-rear-weight balance, while the 2007 model’s wider front and rear track adds to the G35 sedan’s overall handling stability.

As with the previous G35, the 2007 model comes with a standard five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode (steering wheel paddles on Sport model), or a six-speed manual transmission (Sport model only). The new five-speed automatic transmission allows quicker shifts for sporty driving and features downshift rev matching. The magnesium paddles on Sport models are behind the steering wheel, but unlike some types, they don’t turn with the wheel.

The G35’s sedan’s suspension remains a four-wheel independent multi-link design with lightweight aluminum components and front and rear stabilizer bars. The rear design separates the shock absorbers and springs, locating the shock absorber inline with the wheel centre to help reduce reduce the wind-up motion of the axle on acceleration.

All 2007 G35 sedans come with Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), and Sport models include a rear Viscous Limited Slip Differential (VLSD). The Sport model is also available with an optional four-wheel steering system that includes variable ratio front active steering and rear active steer to improve lane-changing stability and manoeuvrability.

Brakes have been upgraded: four-wheel vented disc brakes with ABS, electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) are standard, and the Sport model features larger front calipers.

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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The all-wheel drive G35x model features Infiniti’s ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel drive system that’s also found in the M35x and FX models. Its electro-magnetic center differential is designed to allow rear-wheel drive performance characteristics on dry roads, while sending up to 50% of the engine’s power to the front wheels when necessary.

Most G35’s have standard P225/55R17 tires and 17-inch alloys, while Sport models include P225/50R18 tires (front) and P245/45R18 tires (rear).

Interior design upgrades

The G35’s all-new interior disposes of those unique orange-yellow round gauges and replaces them with more contemporary white and blue backlighting and a red digital display between them showing the automatic transmission shift indicator, outside air temperature, warning displays, odometer, average fuel consumption, average speed, elapsed time, running distance, and distance to empty.

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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Leather upholstery, including a hand-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, is standard, and Sport models come with front sport seats that feature thigh extensions, and power adjustable upper and lower bolsters. The standard dash trim is real aluminum with a “Washi” style texture that resembles Japanese hand-made paper. Very classy, but I still prefer the optional unvarnished African Rosewood trim.

The G35’s centre instrument panel has been re-arranged: the radio has been moved above the heater, and the oval clock has been moved down from the top of the dash to the centre of the instrument panel. When you order the optional navigation system, a large seven-inch colour touch screen doubles as a display for the radio, CD, and heater, and a back-up camera when the transmission is put into Reverse.

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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A new option for 2007 is what Infiniti calls, “Studio on Wheels” by Bose, which features the first three-way front door speaker array using 10-inch woofers with an audiophile quality head unit incorporating a 24-bit Burr Brown Digital Audio Converter. In a demonstration of the sound quality by Bose engineers, I was surprised at how well I could hear small background sounds and the lack of distortion with the Bass turned way up. The system includes a 9.5-gigabyte music hard drive that allows the user to download up to 3000 songs, and play MP3 or WMA files off an in-dash compact flash card slot.

Other new features include standard “Intelligent Key” and push-button ignition, an optional XM satellite radio, intelligent cruise control, and available Bluetooth hands-free phone system.

Standard safety features include dual-stage front air bags with seat belt sensors and passenger sensor, side airbags in the front seats, roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags for front- and rear-seat occupants, three-point seat belts for all five passengers, front seat active head restraints and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system.

The G35’s trunk has grown slightly: 13.5 cu. ft vs 11.8 cu. ft., but while there is a centre pass-through, there are no folding seatbacks.

Driving impressions

I only had a few hours with the new G35, and most of that time was spent with the AWD G35x. As with the previous model, this AWD sedan feels very well planted through the twisties, and extremely stable and effortless to drive at high speeds. The new G35’s engine seems smoother and quieter than the previous engine, and even the AWD model is very fast in a straight line, reaching 100 km/h in about six seconds. Though the AWD system is working all the time, it’s essentially seamless to the driver. But it’s there when you need it. Apparently, half of all G35s sold in Canada have the AWD option, so this is a very popular model.

I also drove the G35 Sport with the six-speed manual transmission – it offers direct, notchy throws but a rather heavy clutch pedal. For some reason, the G35 Sport’s engine sounds louder and rougher than in the G35x – perhaps that’s done on purpose to enhance its sporty character.

First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan luxury cars infiniti first drives

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The G35’s new interior looks more upscale, more expensive than before. I liked the brighter instrument cluster that moves with the steering wheel when tilted, but I didn’t like the controls for the optional navigation system – I’m not a fan of menu systems in cars – too distracting – and I didn’t like the horizontal position of the Nav buttons.

The G35’s seats are very comfortable and its fully independent suspension, long wheelbase, and rear-drive layout provides a comfortable, balanced ride, if a bit stiff at times.

With the largest interior in its class, the G35 also makes it possible for your friends and family to be comfortable.

Pricing

The 2007 Infiniti G35 is offered in three trim levels: G35 ($39,990), G35x AWD ($43,390), G35 Sport ($46,790). With every available option, 2007 G35s go for about $51,000.

The G35 is made in Tochigi, Japan.

Manufacturer’s web site

www.infiniti.ca

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