The current Infiniti G35 Coupe is a favorite around this office, and it's easy to see why. It is, of course, drop dead gorgeous, but its beauty is more than skin deep. You can hear its front-mid-mounted 3.5-liter, 275-hp V-6 sing its baritone wail from blocks away. And once behind the wheel, you can't help but hang the tail out at every curve - the G35 loves to dance.
It's not without its faults, of course. The G35 (both and sedan and coupe form) are most often compared to the BMW 3-series, and that presents a slight problem for the Infinitis. See, in terms of refinement, all the Gees are quite a few steps behind the venerable Threes.
We had the opportunity to sample a pre-production test mule at Nissan's test facility in Arizona last month, and were waiting - impatiently - to tell you all about it until the G37 was revealed at the 2007 New York Auto Show. That was, until one of our fellow magazines had a mishap and released their May issue to digital subscribers a little early.
Their loss (Infiniti is likely furious about this) is your gain - the wait is over. We can now say the words that BMW fans (your humble author included) will hate to hear: Infiniti has set its sights squarely at BMW, and the new G37 is a shot that hits the 3-series square in its Angel Eyes.
First thing's first - just as you'd expect, the higher number in the G37's name denotes a larger displacement engine. The 2007 model's VQ35 3.5-liter has been stroked to 3.7 liters. The new engine, dubbed VQ37VHR, now has an 86-mm stroke (up from 81.4 mm) and a compression ratio that is, at 11.0:1, four-tenths of a point higher.
The biggest news about the engine, however, is that it is the world's first application of Nissan's VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology. Like BMW's Valvetronic, VVEL eliminates the need for a conventional throttle butterfly, controlling engine output by continually and steplessly varying valve lift and timing. The V-6 retains a conventional throttle butterfly, but it's used for emissions-related purposes only, according to Nissan.
By having infinite control over both valve lift and timing, Nissan was able to flatten the VQ's torque curve at both the bottom and top of the rpm range. The result is that while the 3.7-liter's 270 lb-ft peak torque is only 2 lb-ft higher than the 3.5-liter's, the curve shows improvements of about six percent down low and four percent up high.
The increase in high-rpm torque results, of course, in more horsepower. The G37 is preliminarily rated at 330 horsepower. And as a result of VVEL, it should beat the 3.5-liter's EPA fuel economy ratings. Now that's progress.
Nissan says that, compared with BMW's Valvetronic, VVEL is 32% quicker to respond, 20% smaller, and uses 52% less parts per cylinder. It also allows the engine to rev higher - the 3.7-liter is redlined at 7,500rpm.
The G37 will be available with a 6-speed manual transmission (6MT) or a 5-speed automatic. 6MT and sport-pack automatics, like the test mule we drove, will have limited-slip differentials.
Even with the automatic, we noticed no throttle lag from the VVEL. Indeed, the throttle was precise enough to help us do exactly what the G Coupe loves to do best - fantastic power-slides.