Review: 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

Chopping the top off a car isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when the fixed roof is replaced with a folding one of the steel variety - the panels and system of motors and hinges add significant weight. Worse, in order to get the whole mess to fit in the trunk, a folding hard top often requires a bubbly, arching roofline and an ungainly, long rear deck. If you've had the displeasure of studying a Volkswagen Eos, you know what we're talking about.

Now, Infiniti - which hasn't produced a droptop in ages - has created a hardtop convertible G37 that has lost almost none of its elegant coupe sibling's visual appeal. And although the retractable roof and robust structural bracing add some 450 pounds to the car's mass, the G37's driving experience also has been largely preserved. That means blistering acceleration, brilliant ride and handling, and a cockpit that's among the prettiest in the business.

Even though the G37's chassis is new from the A-pillar rearward, the experience from behind the wheel is identical to that of the coupe. The familiar VVEL 3.7-liter V-6 carries over, but it produces five fewer horses due to a slightly more restrictive exhaust. Transmissions migrate over as well - buyers can choose a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic. We prefer the automatic, which dampens much of the V-6's roughness and provides better off-the-line acceleration, thanks to delightfully short gear ratios. A sport package that mirrors the coupe's - although without the limited-slip differential - is available with the automatic (and standard with the stick), but all-wheel drive is not offered.

Lowering the roof requires nothing more than the press of a button and a somewhat lengthy thirty seconds. Air movement is very well controlled inside the cabin, especially with the optional wind blocker. To ensure year-round comfort, you can order heated and cooled seats, and headrest-mounted Bose speakers are available, too.

What's so difficult about making a convertible, you say? Deciding what compromises to make for the sake of beauty, that's what. In order to keep the G37's sexy silhouette, Infiniti had to relocate the rear suspension's upper mounting points so the top would fit in the trunk. It does - but it leaves almost no room for cargo. With the top down, you'd be hard-pressed to fit two Ziploc freezer baggies back there. That is, if you can get the trunk open in the first place - the heavy lid lacks any kind of handle and is difficult to open.

Asking rear-seat passengers to hold your luggage will be an exercise in the art of persuasion. They have almost five inches less legroom than they would in the back of a BMW 3-series droptop, so they won't be happy. Just reassure them that they look fabulous in the G37, and drown out their complaints with that trademark Infiniti exhaust song.

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