The Infiniti G37 is roughly $1000 less than the Automobile Magazine Four Seasons Volvo S60 T6 AWD, $8000 less than the BMW 335i we recently tested, and $13,000 less than the Audi S4 that came through our office a few weeks prior. If you were thinking that all six-cylinder, 300+ horsepower sport sedans cost about the same, think again.
I'd like to say that the Infiniti G37 feels every bit as good as its pricier competitors, but its bargain-basement price does show in a few places. The transmission is classic Infiniti, with a clutch pedal that lacks fluidity and a springy shifter. The material covering the steering wheel (I'm guessing it's leather, but I'm not convinced) is of a lesser grade than that of the Germans and the Swede. The engine note is coarse at cruising speeds.
But the Infiniti smacks the competition in one of the intangibles of owning a sport sedan: charisma. Part of it is from the engine note, which bellows throughout the cabin under heavy throttle. Another part comes from the engine itself, which has no turbocharger or supercharger, unlike most of its competitors. The G37 is always ready to play, turbo lag be damned.
At the end of the day, the Infiniti doesn't compete against the 335i or S4 in refinement, but it also doesn't compete against them in price. The G37 is the "think outside the box" option -- a raw, sporty, six-cylinder sport sedan that thrashes the competition on price. But if you want your sport sedan to be luxurious, keep saving your pennies.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
My, my, what a long way you have come from the front-wheel-drive G20 of the 1990s, Infiniti. Now in its second generation, the rear-wheel-drive G sedan continues to please and delight. While its design is starting to look a little long in the tooth (an all-new G is due for 2014), the fact that the G37 was crafted before a time of immense techno-wizardry proves to be a strong point here. Its cabin is simple and intuitive with little frustration, making it a pleasant place to spend time. A slick six-speed manual and extremely comfortable seats with adjustable side and lower bolsters (but not lumbar, oddly), mean the G37 is a delight to take out to dinner, to the grocery store, or on a winding Sunday drive. The 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6 engine has an intoxicating exhaust note, only amplified by the complete control allowed by the manual transmission; it's as though your right foot becomes a volume controller for how much of that sweet sound you want to hear.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
The G37 has always been a raw, brawler of a sport sedan compared to competitors in the segment, but that sense is even greater now that BMW has released an even more refined new 3-series. You know what though? It's not entirely a bad thing. The Infiniti has no "comfort" settings, no selectable steering effort, and certainly no engine start/stop feature. Rather, the G37 wants to go all-out, all the time. Its VQ V-6 drones unpleasantly lest you nail the throttle, at which point it lets out a happy bellow and lights up the rear tires. The clutch and shifter, so heavy and annoying in the everyday stop-and-go, become more agreeable when you quit trying to be delicate and chuck it from gear to gear. I'd say the G37 is more muscle car than sport sedan if it weren't for a chassis that's always poised and balanced and steering that communicates right up to the limit. These are supreme sport sedan qualities, ones that many competitors seem to be burying under electronic gizmos.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I think we've waited long enough for Infiniti to catch up to the Germans in the refinement game. Infiniti has pretty much had the dynamics down for years, in vehicles like the G, the M, and the FX. Infiniti certainly has a firm and skilled hand on its styling, as evidenced by those same vehicles, if not the ungainly QX SUV. We've forgiven Infiniti for its blunt-instrument dynamics, coarse powertrains, and general lack of finesse, but I'm tired of being forgiving. The next-generation G had better make a big leap in suppleness, NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) tuning, and overall finesse. There's a reason that this current G37 costs thousands less than 300-plus-horsepower sport sedans from Europe: it's not worth as much as they are.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I wish this car weren't red -- I constantly want to challenge its rear tires with acceleration and mild drifting, but the paint color won't let this G37 blend in very well.
The G37S feels pretty raw if you let it, and it can be an absolute drift machine. Partially responsible for this amusing characteristic is the Infiniti's normally aspirated engine. I found it quite refreshing to drive a highly controllable and perfectly predictable non-turbo sport sedan after recently spending time in a couple examples of the new BMW 3-series. As Ezra Dyer discussed in his July column, normally aspirated cars like this are getting harder and harder to find, and that's too bad.
The G37's six-speed manual is not a very smooth gearbox, but it's pleasant to work once you've gotten accustomed to it and, as David suggests, stop trying to finesse it. The G37's engine is noisy, as we've noted numerous times before, but it sure moves this car quickly. Aging switchgear is a turn-off, but the very comfortable, highly adjustable driver's seat is a boon.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I have a soft spot in my heart for the Infiniti G37. Memories of driving a G37 coupe along with a BMW 335i coupe from Alabama to Kentucky on nothing but twisting two-lanes reinforce the good feelings I have for this car. On that drive, we found the G37 a willing companion in our back-road adventures, with a taut suspension, strong brakes, and a lively engine. But we also found that it lagged behind the BMW in refinement and in that intangible quality of how it makes the pilot feel like a better driver. All that is now five years in the past, and the Infiniti test car we recently had in our fleet was a sedan rather than a coupe, but what was true then is still true today. The VQ engine in the G37 is willing and more than able, the throws in the six-speed manual are well placed, the brakes and suspension are well tuned. But overall, this car simply seems makes the driver work harder than a comparable 3-series BMW. That quality surely appeals to a certain type of driver, and I wouldn't discourage someone from buying a G37 for just that reason.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor