2005 Infiniti G35
2005 Infiniti G35; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

By Chris Chase

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Fast, reliable and cheap: pick two. For car enthusiasts, this formula is like the number 42 in Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. Where that number represents the answer to a question no one’s been able to figure out, car nuts spend a lot of brainpower trying to find cars that can meet all three of those criteria.

Infiniti took a crack at it in 2003, when it launched the G35. This was the car that replaced the lacklustre G20 as the brand’s entry-level model. The G20 was fine in a lot of ways, but at about $30,000, it was far too pricey, and as a result never enjoyed the kind of success that Acura had with its similarly-conceived EL.

The G35 was a quantum leap in Infiniti’s approach to the entry-luxury market. The G35 was much larger inside and out and, for a starting price of about $39,000, came standard with a 260 hp V6 and rear-wheel drive. Not only was this car a huge improvement over the little G20, but while not cheap per se, it represented a strong value compared to German competitors like the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Plus, unlike the G20, the G35 could be had as a useful sedan or wearing shapely coupe sheet metal. The coupe also got a 280 hp version of the same 3.5-litre V6 that powered the sedan.

2005 Infiniti G35
2005 Infiniti G35; photo courtesy Infiniti. Click image to enlarge

Initially, G35 buyers were stuck with a five-speed automatic tranny; the coupe came standard with it too, but a six-speed manual was available. The six-speed became a late-availability option in the sedan for 2003, and stuck around. An all-wheel drive variant introduced in 2004, however, remained auto-only; for 2005, the sedan got the same 280 hp motor as the coupe. Go for the stick shift in later models and you get a power boost too, to 298 horsepower.

Fuel consumption is reasonable: Natural Resources Canada pegs the G35’s city cycle numbers at between 12 and 13 L/100 km, and highway consumption anywhere between 8 and 9 L/100 km, with transmission choice being responsible for the variation; according to NRCan’s testing methods, manual tranny versions are thriftier in the city, but the difference is less pronounced in highway cruising. Opting for an all-wheel drive sedan will boost fuel use by a few percentage points; blame that on the added weight and friction caused by the extra driveline parts.

2005 Infiniti G35
2005 Infiniti G35; photo by Jil McIntosh. Click image to enlarge

While many recent Nissan products have suffered from so-so reliability, the first-generation G35 has enjoyed a good reputation so far. Mechanically, Consumer Reports notes the brakes as the only source of serious trouble; indeed, early G35s were known for eating brake pads at an alarming rate, but this was apparently addressed after the 2005 model year. Also, excessive and uneven tire wear was an issue on early cars, but some owners feel that this is simply a quirk of a suspension tuned for performance and can be mitigated by regular tire rotation. Coupe owners, though, don’t get this option, as the two-door cars use staggered tire sizes, where the rears are wider than the fronts.
Some owners of six-speed manual cars complain of a clutch that’s hard to modulate and makes the car hard to drive smoothly.

2005 Infiniti G35
2003 Infiniti G35
2005 G35 interior (top) and at bottom, 2003 Infiniti G35 interior; top photo by Jil McIntosh, bottom photo by Laurance Yap. Click image to enlarge

Cosmetically, the interior materials and design in 2003 and 2004 drew some serious criticism, but Infiniti addressed this with a 2005 update, and the G35’s base stereo system apparently isn’t that great. Looking through threads at the many Internet discussion forums dedicated to the G35, there don’t seem to be any other major problems with it.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the G35 sedan its “good” rating in offset frontal crash tests, and an “acceptable” rating in side impact tests. The less optimistic side impact score reflects a high likelihood of pelvis injuries to front seat occupants and poor performance by the car’s structural components. Staring in late 2005, Infiniti made some interior design changes that helped to further improve occupant protection in side impacts.

The G35’s Canadian Red Book used values paint this Infiniti as a real used bargain: values range from about $21,000 for a 2003 G35 sedan to $38,875 for a 2006 coupe. A 2004 sedan at its Red Book value of just under $26,000 would be a great deal, but the challenge might be finding one on sale for that price; real-world selling prices tend to run higher than Red Book values in many cases, especially for the more stylish coupe. A quick browse on AutoTrader in Ontario revealed, however, that if you look hard enough, you can find many G35s selling for reasonable prices.

2005 Infiniti G35
2005 Infiniti G35; photo courtesy Infiniti. Click image to enlarge

Truth is, though, that even at those inflated prices, a G35 will probably still be cheaper than a comparable German model, and that price point, no BMW, Audi or Mercedes will be able to match the G35’s horsepower, nor will they be likely to match it for reliability.

When it comes to the fast/cheap/reliable formula, there certainly are cheaper used cars than the G35. But what the Infiniti adds to the mix is a healthy helping of luxury features, something you won’t find in many sport compacts. We may never know the question that got us the number 42 as an answer, but the G35 comes pretty close to being the kind of fast, affordable and dependable car that enthusiasts crave.

Online resources

As the name suggests, G35Driver.com is dedicated to the G35 sedan and coupe. The, uh, interestingly-named “G-Spot” is where you’ll find G35 discussion. It’s very busy; other sections here deal with other Infiniti models. At FreshAlloy.com, a popular Nissan/Infiniti site, the G35 forum is very busy too, second only in traffic to that dedicated to the tuner-friendly 240SX. Nicoclub.com is a unique site, one that’s run by Nissan and Infiniti technicians, so this might be the place to go for in-depth technical info.
6MT.net is another G35-centric site, with discussions split up into G35 sedan and coupe sections; this is a fairly busy spot, but its seeming focus on six-speed cars might limit its appeal somewhat.
The G20/G35 section at InfinitiOwners.org is the busiest part of that site, but it can’t boast anywhere near the same amount of traffic as the other sites listed here.

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Manufacturer’s Website


Transport Canada Recall Number: 2002238; Units affected: 4,079

2003: On certain vehicles, tamperproof caps to prevent horizontal adjustment of the headlamps were omitted. As a result, these vehicles do not meet CMVSS 108. Correction: Dealer will install tamperproof caps over the horizontal adjustment screw for both headlamps.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2002160; Units affected: 2,372

2003: On certain vehicles, the fuel hose connection for the outlet of the fuel pump, which is located at the top of the fuel tank, may not have been fully seated when the vehicle was produced. If the connection comes loose, the engine will stop running due to lack of fuel. In addition, some fuel will discharge from the loose connector until the engine stops running or if an attempt is made to restart the engine. Correction: The connector for the outlet hose of the fuel pump will be inspected by the dealer to ensure it is properly secured.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005376; Units affected: 16,387

2003-2004: On certain vehicles, the fuel filler hose may crack from exposure to ozone. This could cause fuel leakage from the hose while refuelling and the Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL) to illuminate as a result of the onboard diagnostic system detecting a leak in the evaporative emission control system. Fuel leakage, in the presence of an ignition source, could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will replace the fuel filler hose.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003267 Units affected: 74,143

2003: On certain vehicles, the circuit board for the crank position sensor may have an improper solder joint. This could cause the Service Engine Soon warning light to come on, create a no start condition, cause reduced engine power, or cause the engine to stop running without warning during vehicle operation. Correction: Dealers will replace the crankshaft position sensor and both camshaft position sensors.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2003143 Units affected: 6,284

2003: On certain vehicles, the contact points for the stop lamp switch may oxidize. This can eventually result in a loss of continuity, causing the stop lamps to not illuminate when the brake is applied. Correction: Dealer will replace the stop lamp switch.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006260 Units affected: 1,400

2006-2007: Certain vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of CMVSS 108 – Headlamp vertical gradient. Correction: Dealers will install updated headlamp assemblies.

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

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