BMW 330Ci and Infiniti G35 Coupe

Ian Dawson
Passenger Side Interior View

The BMW has seatbelts for five, and, although we wouldn't want to be the fifth passenger, we'd gladly be the third or fourth, as there's sufficient leg and head room for adults in the rear, and access is easy with front seats that flip up out of the way manually and return to their original position. The G35 coupe's front seats, which are heavily bolstered and much sportier than those in the G35 sedan, glide forward electrically to provide access to the rear, but their seatbacks don't return to the original set position afterward. The G35's rear seat offers decent hip and leg room but scant headroom for an adult. The BMW's trunk is much bigger, too, although Infiniti insists that two golf bags can be crammed into the shallow cavity and affixes a sticker to the inside of the trunk lid with instructions and diagrams for doing so.

Passenger Side Interior View

Both cars have orange instrument lighting, but somehow it seems more appropriate in the BMW, where it's a tradition, than in the more mod Infiniti. The G35's cabin is functional and very comfortable but overall not quite as luxurious as the BMW's. The titanium-colored plastic that forms most of the center console looks okay but not great. "But would you even want wood in a car like this?" queried technical editor Don Sherman. Probably not, but neither would we expect Infiniti's rather old-fashioned analog clock, which sits incongruously in the middle of this contemporary instrument panel and is difficult to read at night.

It took us a while to find a power switch for the G35's radio besides the one on the steering wheel (we eventually found another on the right side of the radio), and the volume control button requires continuous application of your index finger rather than a quick flick of your wrist. Memo to all car manufacturers: Radios must have a simple round dial for turning down the volume instantly, and it must be located on the left edge of the stereo unit, where decades of conditioning have led drivers to expect it.

Full Rear Views

Prices haven't been announced yet, but the G35 will start at less than $30,000, which leads us to believe that the six-speed model still will cost well under $35,000. The G35 offers all sorts of pricey options packages, including a pop-up-screen navigation system, but so does the 330Ci, and it appears that there will be about a $3000 to $5000 spread in favor of Infiniti buyers between comparably equipped models. The savings up front must be weighed against almost certain better long-term resale value for the BMW.

What we know for sure is that the Infiniti is an absolute blast, and it offers a more visceral and aggressive driving experience than the BMW. Overall, the 330Ci is more practical and still a great car, but the G35 is fresh and hot; it grabs you by the seat of the pants and begs you to drive the hell out of it. Yes, there finally is an Infiniti that you might prefer to a BMW, and it's not that first-generation Q45 you've been scouring the classifieds for; it's coming to your Infiniti dealership in November.

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