2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible
2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Mark Stevenson

Being in California for the first time in my life, I wanted to experience the state and its culture in the most appropriate way. Roofs and B-pillars are obstacles in the way of the great sights along Southern California’s famous coastal highways and canyon roads.

After checking out the new Versa Note, Nissan provided me with a bright, 1980s powder-white Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible to explore the beaches, arid mountains, the most incredible apple pie, and by far the best canyon roads in North America.

Starting out from San Diego with top in the fully down position, my goal was to stay on the coast and away from the notoriously bad freeways for as long as possible. This meant jumping on historic Highway 101, littered with surf shops, bikini-clad co-eds, and cars that have been extinct in Canada for at least 30 years. Thanks to a metal-friendly climate, rust worm is a species that does not flourish in the southern coastal state.

Highway 101 allowed the G Convertible to show its strong boulevarding prowess. The four-seat Japanese drop top was born for this kind of cruising. Smooth roads, a steady but slow pace, and an incredible engine note in lower gears has you wishing for three other friends with which to share the experience. The four-seat layout is also quintessentially Californian, making this the perfect car to enjoy a late morning drive to one of the many fantastic white sand beaches followed by a top-down cruise home in mild weather and ocean breezes. Unfortunately, this highly enjoyable ribbon of pavement does not last forever and merges with I-5, the main north-south freeway between San Diego and Los Angeles.

2013 Infiniti G37 IPL ConvertibleJulian Pie Company
2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible. Click image to enlarge

Instead of giving up like most plebeian commuters between the two southern cities, a new plan of action was formed after a text message was received at just the right moment. An American colleague suggested heading to Julian, a small town about an hour and a half from my current location, to get apple pie. He said the roads were “good” in an understated fashion that is very atypical of this usually hyperactive writer.

So I boldly veered away from the coast toward the interior of California, through small towns filled with unnecessarily controlled intersections and sketchy restaurants. But, it wasn’t long before his suggestion started to make sense.

On an uphill stretch while following a pickup transporting a number of landscaping professionals, the truck pulled to the side of the road to let me pass. I found this odd and quite un-American. Either this was the Twilight Zone or there was something ahead that deserved my attention. Thankfully, it was the latter.

After emerging from a cluster of bushes and other tall arid flora, I was greeted with something that could warm the oil-lubricated soul of any gearhead. A vast valley was before me, with sheer cliffs on opposing sides of the road. The pavement was smooth as glass in most sections and certain corners lacked sufficient guardrails, California DOT’s massive middle finger to Darwinism.

2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible
2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible. Click image to enlarge

These roads, while highly exhilarating, started to bring out the mid-size convertible’s weaknesses. Chassis flex was starting to become evident and front end confidence was at about 50 percent; not something you want to experience while climbing a 13-percent grade on switchback corners with your mirrors perilously close to boulders the size of Type 1 Volkswagens.

But, despite the negative characteristics, the car did remain planted with the rear end gripping into the tarmac as anticipated. Between the corners, the seven-speed automatic provided lazy and clunky upshifts when in manual mode; in Sport shift mode, which uses a more aggressive automatic shifting map, gear changes are a little smoother but it doesn’t slot into the gear you necessarily want.

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