Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Laurance Yap
Does familiarity really breed contempt? Not in the case of the Infiniti G35 coupe, it seems. By the time it hit the test track at Shannonville Motorsports Park at the end of last October, the big, stylish Infiniti had already been on sale for a number of months, and its sedan brother had been on sale for more than a year. Yet the coupe walked away victorious from the Best Sports Coupe/Sedan over $35,000 competition, having blown away such other contenders as the Audi S4 and TT 3.2, Chrysler Crossfire, and Acura TL.
Changes for 2004 are minimal: G35 Coupes receive a new standard Tire Pressure Monitor System, a faster 6-disc CD changer, and a new exterior colour, Twilight Blue. Coupes with the 6-speed manual tranny get a handy new front centre console with a centre armrest and additional front cupholder.
The G35 coupe is a terrific car to drive, with tight, direct steering, instantaneous throttle response, flat cornering, and tons of grip from its 18-inch Michelins. The brakes are immensely powerful, and the shifter has a very mechanical feel, as if you’re in there moving the gears around with your hand. On the track, the G35 isn’t a light, effortless drive like, say, a BMW 3-series coupe. Rather, it’s a more physical experience – more difficult to drive in a seamless fashion because the steering and shifter and suspension are so directly connected to what they’re doing. Which makes for a slightly more challenging drive than its other competitors, but ultimately brings greater rewards.
On the road, it’s a bit less polished than some other cars, but is still terrific fun. The ride is stiff, though not harsh, and there’s a bit of shunt in the driveline if you aren’t focusing on being smooth. It does help you out, though: the pedals and shifter are in just the right places, and the instruments, moving in step with the steering column, are legible no matter where you like your wheel. The big driver’s bucket hugs you in all the right places, and the G’s engine, a 3.5-litre V6 here in 280-horsepower tune (the sedan gets 260) always burbles happily away, ready with a steady surge of torque from low down, and happy to wind right up to its redline.
Let’s face it though, in a coupe competition, style matters, and the G has truckloads of it. The thing is just gorgeous: though it’s low and sleek and unadorned in the best sports-coupe tradition, its detailing, from the polished pipes to the vertically-stacked headlights and gunmetal-finish wheels, is classy but unabashedly futuristic. Okay, it would look a lot better with about two inches taken out of the wheelbase to tighten up the space between the door and the rear wheel, and the profile is kind of ruined by the tea-tray rear wing, but overall, the G’s a stunner, making the other cars in its class – many of them self-consciously retro – look old hat.
Style doesn’t come at the cost of practicality, however. The G has back seats where the Nissan 350Z with which it shares a platform has a strut tower brace. Though the low roofline limits rear headroom – and the thick front seats also cut into rear legroom – there’s enough space in back for adults to take short trips, and the trunk is of a decent size. The interior is nicely finished: the seats have big, thick bolsters and lots of thigh support; real aluminum trim replaces the sedan’s standard painted-on finish; and the console has storage compartments and cupholders located that are useful to rear-seat riders as well as those in front. Quality is just fine – maybe not in perception, where the surface finishes trail Audi’s by a bit, but the interior is tightly screwed together and completely rattle-free.
So over the course of a week on the road and track, the Infiniti coupe more than proved its credentials against some pretty impressive competitors. The $45,200 starting price gets you all the regular luxury goodies plus vehicle dynamics control, seat heat, 17-inch alloys, and a six-disc Bose stereo; an extra $2500 gets you the six-speed model with the aero package and Brembo brakes. Navigation is a standalone $3400 option.
Whichever model you choose, you’re looking at a pretty stunning value, given that a 225 horsepower BMW 330Ci can top $50,000 without much effort, and a Mercedes CLK320 can run over $60,000. The G35 is a great car at an even better price: no wonder it’s a winner.
Technical Data: 2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe 6MT
|Options||$ 2,500 (6 speed manual)|
|Price as tested||$47,700|
|Type||2-door, 4 passenger coupe|
|Layout||longitudinal front engine/rear-wheel-drive|
|Engine||3.5 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves, variable intake hydraulic cam|
|Horsepower||280 @ 6200 rpm|
|Torque||270 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|Tires||225/50R-17 front; 235/50R-17 rear|
|Curb weight||1557 kg (3433 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2850 mm (112.2 in.)|
|Length||4629 mm (182.2 in.)|
|Width||1815 mm (71.5 in.)|
|Height||1393 mm (54.8 in.)|
|Trunk capacity||221 litres (7.8 cu. ft.)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 11.9 l/100 km (24 mpg)|
|8.1 l/100 km (35 mpg)|
|Fuel type||Premium unleaded|
|Assembly location||Tochigi, Japan|