The war is over, and rear-wheel drive has won. If a sedan expects to have an image of prestige and performance, then it must have rear-wheel drive, not front-wheel drive like some proletarian runabout. This leaves one problem: What happens when there’s snow and ice on the road?
The modern electronic deus ex machina of traction and stability control programs is evidently an insufficient answer, because Infiniti has elected to follow BMW and Mercedes-Benz by adopting all-wheel drive for its rear-wheel-drive sedan. Fully one-fourth of G35 sedans (but no coupes) will be so equipped.
The G35x’s awd system is adapted from that of the FX35/45. Its centerpiece is an electromagnetic clutch that varies the power split between the front and rear wheels according to inputs from sensors that monitor speed, throttle position, and wheelspin. The system can direct as much as 50 percent of power to the front wheels in slippery conditions but will send 100 percent to the rear wheels if the road surface is dry.
The G35x tries to deliver the best of both worlds, and it does a very good job of it. In our test drive on slippery pavement at Nissan’s Arizona proving ground, the G35x accelerated faster than a BMW 330xi, accelerated with more stability than an Audi A4 Quattro, and handled much like a standard G35 on dry pavement. The only downside versus the rear-wheel-drive G35 is a fuel economy penalty of 1 to 2 mpg and an extra 308 pounds. The $1800 cost is well worth it when there’s snow and ice between you and where you want to go, especially since you can get back to rear-wheel-drive-style driving as soon as the pavement dries.