Road Test - 2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    G-force to be Reckoned With

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    By Brian Moody
    Date posted: 01-14-2003

    Not long ago, Infiniti declared a new direction for its cars. Unfortunately, the superhighway of automobile manufacturers is littered with the wreckage of companies that simply could not get the buying public interested in their "new direction." Brands like Packard, Studebaker, AMC, Plymouth and Oldsmobile offered the public an automotive equivalent of Spinal Tap's Jazz Odyssey only to find those new products collecting dust on showroom floors across America.

    "Ah ha!" you're saying, "doesn't this mean Infiniti is doomed to the scrap heap just like the others?" No, and the reason is simple. Infiniti is making good on recent promises by building cars that people actually care about. Infiniti's recent promise is two-fold: 1) No more rebadged cars. 2) Offer an all rear-wheel-drive fleet. Infiniti and Nissan had to learn the hard way that rebadged cars tarnish brand image and cause the buying public to become distrustful. This is no mere war of words or PR hype, Infiniti is putting its money where its collective mouth is — the new G35 sedan, as well as the Q45 and M45, are proof. The new G35 Sport Coupe is just one more indication that Infiniti is headed in the right direction.

    Certainly comparisons to Nissan's 350Z are inevitable, but really the spirit and intent of the G35 Sport Coupe are quite different from the Z's. The 350Z is like the high school cheerleader who arrives at a party shouting "Look at me!" while the Infiniti is content to sneak in the back way and by the end of the evening has everyone asking "Who's that?" The G35 further distinguishes itself with a usable backseat and a slightly more luxurious cabin.

    While the base price of the G35 Sport Coupe starts at just under $30,000 equipped with an automatic transmission and cloth seats, it can easily climb above $35,000 by adding only a few options. Check the "leather seating" box and more options become available. The real bargain is the Premium Package. Order the sunroof and Bose stereo separately and the price jumps up by $1,900. Order the $2,250 Premium Package and you'll get your sunroof and upgraded stereo all right, but for the extra $350 you'll also be treated to dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and auto on-off headlights — a bargain, indeed.

    All G35 Sport Coupes come with the tried-and-true VQ-series 3.5-liter V6 making an impressive 280 horsepower. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic with a shift-it-yourself automanual feature. Our tester had the automatic, but frankly, the manual-shift feature is so good, we didn't miss the manual all that much.

    Inside, the G35 Sport Coupe offers an adequate level of luxury, but falls short of expectations set by the 3 Series coupe. While the materials and surfaces do have a quality feel, there is a blandness that belies an Infiniti product — straightforward and functional, the interior fails to wow us like the rest of the car. In addition, certain luxury features are lacking. Steering wheel-mounted buttons for the audio system and cruise control are well placed and easy to use, but do not illuminate at night. Such a small thing, but fumbling with buttons in the dark is no fun and shouldn't be necessary on a luxury sport coupe. Also missing inside the G are memory seats, a feature we feel should at least be an available option for the driver.

    Even with those few drawbacks inside the car, there's still much to praise about the interior. While most new cars have a tilt steering wheel, those of us who like to drive with the wheel low have always had to live with the fact that the upper rim of the steering wheel will block the top part of the gauges. Not so on the G35, Infiniti engineers have gone the extra mile in making the entire instrument cluster move with the steering wheel. No matter what the position, the driver still has a clear view of all gauges. While the G35 Sport Coupe lacks a telescoping feature for the steering wheel, the movable gauge cluster makes it easy to see all relevant information no matter how the wheel is positioned. Also worth special mention are the cruise control indicator lights. There is a light to let the driver know the system is on, and another separate light to indicate the system is engaged.

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    Interior room is more than adequate. Sporty seats hold the driver firmly in place with ample side bolstering, and the front seating area offers plenty of leg- and headroom. The rear seats are not just for show and can accommodate child safety seats or a full-size adult. Adult passengers found only headroom to be lacking in the G's backseat. Let 'em suffer; the rakish shape of the Sport Coupe is worth the trade-off.

    As expected, storage space is limited. The trunk will carry the token two golf bags. Infiniti even has a little diagram on the underside of the trunk lid showing just how the bags should be arranged to maximize the space. If you're not a golfer, the trunk will hold a week's worth of groceries along with a baby stroller and assorted tennis gear. It's not huge, but more accommodating than the exterior size suggests.

    The good news with the G35 Sport Coupe is that once a person is behind the wheel, all that yammering about memory seats and corporate promises and buttons that do or don't light up will seem like sheer nonsense. This is a driver's car, plain and simple. Every rev is rewarding, and every turn is tantalizing.

    Fire up the willing DOHC V6 and one can't help but smile. A surprisingly throaty purr coming from the dual chrome-tipped exhaust instantly signifies that this is no mere secretary's car; this is a serious sports car.

    Jab the accelerator from a dead stop and the cool purr of the 280-hp engine turns to an angry snarl. We found ourselves purposely using the manual-shift mode to leave the car in a lower gear longer, just to hear the magnificent exhaust note. At cruising speeds, the sounds settle back into a gentle purr. At highway speeds, there is more road noise than exhaust noise, but not enough to warrant criticism.

    Luckily, the G35's bark is backed up with sufficient bite.

    Acceleration is brisk and responsive in almost all rev ranges, and the 3.5-liter V6 is undoubtedly one of the most refined power plants on the market. While there is plenty of power at lower rpm, the engine still provides a real surge at 3,000 rpm and above. The G35 gets from 0-60 mph slightly quicker by switching the traction control off and utilizing the manual mode of the five-speed automatic — it's also more fun. Sixty mph comes up at just over six seconds from a standstill; that's faster than the 225-hp Audi TT, and BMW 330i. Drop the G35 from fourth to third and stomp the gas, and the car lurches forward like a sprinter racing for an unseen finish line. This is truly a thrilling car to drive.

    Upshifts on the five-speed automatic are firm and precise. When shifting in manual mode, up- and downshifts seem to come almost instantly with only a slight delay from the time the lever is moved until the transmission shifts. Downshifts are virtually seamless in either automatic or manual mode. Even when left in fully automatic mode, this is one of the best five-speed automatics on the market. Brands such as Lexus and Audi offer five-speed automatics, and it's becoming a more common feature, but too often those other transmissions fail to efficiently deliver the engine's power to the wheels. The results are hesitations and excessive "hunting" — the G35 suffers neither.

    Handling is crisp, sure and delivers almost as much "point-and-shoot" fun as the much bigger, more expensive Corvette coupe. This is a tight little car and inputs from the driver result in quick and decisive responses from the vehicle. Could this be the result of the innovative multilink suspension? Regardless, the end result is a fun and tossable sports coupe. The G35 responds in a way only a rear-wheel-drive car can — don't confuse this car with front-drivers like the Eclipse and Celica; those cars are child's play by comparison.

    When cornering somewhat aggressively, the rear of the car has a tendency to step out slightly. Thankfully, the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) steps in at just the right time to keep it pointed in the right direction. Skilled drivers can switch the VDC off and have all the tail-wagging opposite-lock fun they can stand. However, this is a serious sports car and defeating the safety-minded VDC can easily put even a moderately skilled driver in over his head. Leave the VDC on and the car is virtually idiot-proof. The only downside to all this is that the VDC seems to interfere too soon for some, and in an obtrusive manner.

    Braking is only average for a small sporty coupe, but the four-wheel discs do bring the G to a stop effectively. It took us 123 feet to bring the Sport Coupe to a standstill from 60 mph, and the distance increased with each run suggesting slight brake fade. Also, everyone who drove the G35 Sport Coupe felt the brakes were a bit too touchy and had an unwelcome "on/off" feel. The G35 six-speed comes with Brembo brakes which may provide better feel.

    Looking for pony-car performance with some added style and finesse? Here's your new car.

    The G35 Sport Coupe is a stellar performer that combines fun with a dash of functional. The G35 is not just a rebadged 350Z; it sets itself apart with beautifully subtle styling, a slightly more upscale interior and a usable backseat. Infiniti is making good on its promises and, in the case of the G35 Sport Coupe, the buying public gets to reap the rewards.

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    Ups: Sweet V6, slot carlike handling, subtle good looks, perfect exhaust note.

    Downs: Lacks some expected features on a luxury sport coupe, grabby brakes.

    The Bottom Line: A subdued alternative to the boy-racer 350Z, the G35 Sport Coupe delivers on all its performance promises.

    MSRP of Test Vehicle: $34,195

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  2. Platinum_Thunder

    Platinum_Thunder Reliability for life and liberty

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    my friend tried to tell me they make over 400 hp :rofl:
     
  3. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    Blah, Edmund's reviews suck for all cars.
     
  4. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest

    I dont see what the big deal is with that thing. It does nothing for me. No way would I buy one over a BMW.
     
  5. guru220

    guru220 Everybody to the limit!

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    we took one out today (sedan). it was sweet!!! in slushy snow and crap it kept us straight even when we tried to make it slip around. the electronics systems were very smart. i want one so much!!!!!!
     
  6. vtec_mofo

    vtec_mofo Guest

    i would love to own this dream machine.
     
  7. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    If it handles like a slot car... then you aren't driving fast enough. :)

    Very nice car, I'd pimp one.
     
  8. Brigante

    Brigante i'm a lurker without an avatar, deal with it

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    i love these cars. i was set on an acura cl-s, but when i saw this car, acura what? :rofl: the acura is still a nice and solid car but this car is sexy, not to mention RWD and more powerful.
     
  9. chimmike

    chimmike Guest

    sorry.........BMW is no longer the end all be all of luxo sport cars.
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :werd:
     
  11. Buck-O

    Buck-O Guest

    One word...

    Bangelized.
     
  12. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    I prefer the looks and interior of the BMW, but given my financial standing at the moment I'd get a G35 coupe over a 330Ci coupe.
     
  13. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo Guest

    How come they always test the auto?
     
  14. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    The report was done by Edmunds. Need I explain further? :rofl:
     
  15. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest

    :werd:

    For me its that, plus everything else from the tip of the front bumper to the exhaust pipe. If I were looking to buy either, Id happily cough up the extra money for the 3'er.
     
  16. chimmike

    chimmike Guest


    considering it's only changed very slightly in the past 10 years in overall style?


    I think the G35 is setting the pace for style. At least it is in terms of luxury sport that has competent sport
     
  17. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest

    WTFE.

    Infiniti and luxury dont belong in the same paragraph, let alone sentence. As for sport and handling, its still no BMW.
     
  18. chimmike

    chimmike Guest

    :rolleyes:

    wow, aren't we a hater?

    we'll see how the FX45 tramples ALL OVER your beloved X5 4.4
     
  19. chimmike

    chimmike Guest

    the brake fade disappears when you get the brembo brake option. That comes on the track version of the 350z.......which only a true enthusiast would care about anyways.

    It's getting praise because Nissan pushed the limits of style. BMW has had the same general eyelines and bodyshape/style for far too long. Time for a change.
     
  20. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Here is BMWs "change".

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  21. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    That looks like a 2003 Honda Accord coupe with roundels on it.

    :barf:
     
  22. Red97GST

    Red97GST Guest

  23. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest

    Somebody must have bought a Slang for Fake Suburbanites translation guide. Keep up the good work, wonderbread; you're almost passing :rolleyes:

    And yeah, I am a hater. I hate stupid asses who go on and on and on about some car, which is mediocre at best, like its the greatest thing to hit the road ever or like its the Secondcoming,on wheels.

    Like Sgt Baker said, this thing doesnt deserve, and cant live up to the hype its receiving. But hey, magazines love it and we all know what they say goes :rolleyes:
     
  24. LoveBack

    LoveBack Guest

    :werd:
     
  25. chimmike

    chimmike Guest

    I'd like to know what makes that mediocre as opposed to a camry or other car....mind you, camry with leather priced at $31k with leather, as seen in a magazine................
     

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