2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery: 2007 Infiniti G35x

Three hundred horsepower and counting: that seems to be the magic formula for six-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive sport sedans these days. BMW has 300 hp in the benchmark twin-turbo 335i, and the Lexus IS350 boasts 306.

For 2007, Infiniti has joined the fray with its second-generation G35. The ubiquitous 3.5L QV-series DOHC V6, which made 280 hp last year (298 with the six-speed manual), has been massaged to kick out 306 ponies, right across the entire G35 model range.

More than just sporting a revised engine, the 2007 Infiniti G35 has undergone a complete makeover. The more fluid bodywork sits atop a stiffened version of the FM (front mid-ship) platform, and inside is an all-new interior that will make the folks at Audi raise an eyebrow.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

My tester was the all-wheel-drive G35x, which, with a base price of $43.390, commands a $3400 premium over the base rear-wheel-drive model.

Infiniti calls its all-wheel-drive setup ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split). Phew. That’s a very uneconomical handle for a pretty slick system.

The G35x operates mainly as a rear drive car. Accelerating from a stop, the system’s active electro-magnetic centre clutch splits front to rear torque 25/75, changing to 100 percent rear wheel drive once at speed. A rocker switch just aft of the console shifter calls up snow mode, which puts the system into an initial 50/50 torque split and reduces throttle sensitivity. Once under way, it locks in a 25/75 ratio.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

Fortunately, the weather cooperated and served up a fresh dumping of snow the night before I picked up the G35x. So I headed for my secret winding back road for some slippery testing.

With the snow mode activated, the Infiniti pulled away cleanly and exhibited fine control – better than when in regular mode. It had little difficulty negotiating the road, but there’s no getting away from that rear power bias. Get a little frisky and you can practice your World Rally Championship sideways driving until the moose come home. Great fun, but maybe Infiniti should consider hanging onto that 50/50 torque split when it’s in snow mode.

By contrast, an Audi A4 3.2 with Quattro all-wheel-drive I took down that same road under similar conditions was more confidence inspiring and considerably less tail-happy. Audi, of course, has been in the AWD business for ages, and while the A4 might be better in extreme weather, it can’t match the G35x for feel on the dry stuff.

It’s pretty obvious Infiniti has been burning the midnight oil in their quest to build a bona fide BMW 3-series competitor. They’re getting close with this one.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

Those familiar with the 3-series’ mystical blend of fluid balance and supple ride will find the G35x’s demeanor surprisingly familiar. Like the 3, this Infiniti feels intimate and offers up a communicative rear-drive experience. The steering is precise with a nice meaty feel, and the car responds to inputs with excellent body control.

The structure doesn’t feel quite as solid as the BMW, nor is the ride as creamy, but it handles rough surfaces better than the Audi A4 and the harsh Acura TL Type-S.

The only available transmission with the all-wheel-drive G35x is a five-speed auto with sport mode and manual override, accessible by moving the shifter to the left gate when in drive. In sport mode it hangs on to gears longer and resists upshifting when diving into bends. Manual selection is achieved by tapping the shifter forward for upshifts and back for downshifts (no paddle shifters).

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

Like most of these things, you’ll find the transmission works just fine on its own. A cool feature is rev matching on downshifts.

Most of the competition offer six or even seven-speed autoboxes, but I never really missed the extra cog here.

The robust 24-valve 3.5-litre V6 now runs up to a 7600 r.p.m. redline (up 1000 revs from last year) thanks in part to 80% new internals, variable valve-timing on both the intake and exhaust, a trick new dual intake system, and equal-length tube headers. Torque peak is 268 lb.-ft. at 5200 r.p.m.

Above 4500 r.p.m. the V6 gets raw and racy – not as smooth as the BMW straight sixes, but certainly exhilarating in the way it launches the sedan forward in a very anti-social fashion.

Infiniti may be chasing BMW dynamically, but aesthetically the G35 follows its own path.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

The new curvy bodywork eschews aggression for sophistication, and to these eyes it seems a tad soft looking considering the car’s mission. While the BMW 3 and Lexus IS sit on the road with a wedgy and purposeful stance, the G35 lacks a certain toughness, especially in the rear haunches. It had me stifling a yawn every time I looked at it.

Inside, things are considerably more interesting. The all-new interior is a big step up from the last effort, with improved materials, excellent leather seats, and a central LCD screen with a cool angled control panel just below.

The gauge cluster tilts with the steering wheel so the electro-luminescent “fine vision” gauges are always in view. And fine they are. The crisp white numerals and red needles are accented by illuminated violet rings – a colour associated with Japanese royalty.

The sweeping “Washi” aluminum-alloy trim is also a nod to Japanese culture, mimicking the texture of Washi handmade paper. It’s a unique and pleasing detail. At night, the artful illumination of the dash and controls is a thing of beauty.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

In addition to all the expected mod-cons and safety features, my tester was fitted with the $3300 Premium Package, which added power sliding sunroof, 10-speaker “Studio on Wheels” Bose audio, power tilt and telescoping wheel, Bluetooth, one-touch up/down rear windows, Homelink, auto dimming rear view mirror, compass and two position memory system for driver seat, steering column, outside mirrors and driver entry assist.

The latter is a keyless system that lets you unlock the doors and start the vehicle via the starter button, as long as the key fob/transponder is on your person. It sounds like frippery, but is a convenience I got used to real quick.

Trying to play catch-up with the BMW 335i is a thankless task. Yes, the G35x is not quite as integrated, not quite as quick, not quite as solid and not quite as marvelous a driving tool, but at $43,390, it undercuts the Bimmer considerably.

2007 Infiniti G35x
2007 Infiniti G35x. Click image to enlarge

The all-wheel-drive BMW 335xi, which should arrive in late April, will carry an MSRP of $52,500.

Currently, if you want all-wheel-drive in a 3-series, you’re looking at the $43,600 230-hp 328xi.

But heck, playing second fiddle to BMW ain’t so bad. What the G35x does offer is character, a passionate driving experience and a healthy measure of security in inclement weather. Looking out my window at another raging snowstorm, I’m happy for that.


Pricing: 2007 Infiniti G35x

  • Base price: $43,390
  • Options: $3,300 (Premium Package of power sliding sunroof, 10-speaker “Studio on Wheels” Bose audio, power tilt and telescoping wheel, Bluetooth, one-touch up/down rear windows, Homelink, auto dimming rear view mirror, compass and two position memory system for driver seat, steering column, outside mirrors and driver entry assist)
  • Freight: $1,630
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $48,420 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


Related stories on Autos

  • First Drive: 2007 Infiniti G35
  • Test Drive: 2005 Infiniti G35x


Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Acura TL
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Audi A4
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 BMW 3-Series
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Jaguar X-Type
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Lexus IS
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saab 9-3
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Volvo S60


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