The G35's FM (front-midship) platform can also be found under the Nissan 350Z, and that shared sporting bloodline is evident from behind the wheel. In another nod toward the car's enthusiast leaning, the 298-horsepower iteration of the 3.5-liter V-6 is available only with the six-speed manual transmission. Cars equipped with the five-speed automatic (the only transmission offered with the G35x AWD model) make do with a mere 280 horsepower. The G35x does its best to duplicate the sporting rear-drive dynamics of the base car, with the Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split (ATTESA E-TS) all-wheel-drive system sending as much as 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels until wheelspin dictates that a share of torque--up to 50 percent--is needed up front. A welcomed Snow switch adjusts the characteristics to help tame winter traction challenges.
Behind the Wheel
The G35 greets the driver with a meaty three-spoke wheel and electro-fluorescent gauges. The drive-by-wire V-6 loves to rev, and even when hooked to the automatic transmission, it makes for a very swift ride. The coupe's honking dual exhaust emits a purposeful burble that erupts into a full-on snarl as revs climb. The manual transmission's short, direct action always finds the right gear, even if it is a bit notchy. The Sport models of both coupe and sedan get a limited-slip rear differential to help get the increased power to the ground. In the curves, the G35's nearly balanced weight distribution--54/46 percent front/rear in the rear-drive sedan--helps make the car an entertaining partner. The ride/handling balance is up there with that of the top of the class, delivering a smooth ride and nice composure even when pressed to the cornering limit. If you feel the need for more speed, the G35's engine is a darling of the aftermarket, and go-faster parts like superchargers abound. Of course, you might want to wait on that until the 48-month/60,000-mile basic warranty and 72-month/70,000-mile powertrain warranty have expired.
So why buy one of these instead of, say, a Nissan Maxima, which offers more space and the same engine (albeit with a few less ponies)? Well, the G35 provides superior rear-drive dynamics, and when you're dealing with this much power, front-wheel-drive is far from ideal. Plus, you get the coddling that comes with visiting an Infiniti dealership versus a more plebian brand. Compared with the German competition, the G35 stacks up well, given its power, content, and low-$30,000s base price. The G35 will appeal to those who embrace a sort of anti-brand snobbery, people who can afford a 3 Series or C-Class, but find a BMW or Mercedes too obvious. It's also a car for horsepower junkies, since for approximately the same money as a 215-horsepower BMW 325i, you can get a 298-horsepower G35. While the G35 is a definite step down in refinement compared to the 3 Series, the lower price makes the minor compromise easy to swallow. Think of it as the Japanese Audi, a fast, well-appointed driver's car with available all-wheel-drive for snowy climes.
It's not the newest entry in the field, but Infiniti hasn't rested on its laurels, and the G35 is still solidly in the small-luxury sedan mix. Standout G35 competitors are the all-new, widely acclaimed BMW 3 Series, the all-new Lexus IS, and the newly pumped-up, 268-horsepower Mercedes C350. Also worth noting are the softer Audi A4 and Cadillac CTS, the value-packed-but -front-wheel-driven Acura TL, and the value-priced Subaru Legacy GT. The closest competitor to the G35, offering rear- and all-wheel-drive and a 3.5-liter, 300-plus horsepower V-6, is the new Lexus IS 350. Faced with this tough competitive field, buyers should look to the IntelliChoice Ownership Cost Value Rating to aid their decision. A look at the figures shows the G35 coupe is a better long-term value than the sedan, though both are compelling products. Ultimately, it's the test drive that will sell any car in this segment, and we think most enthusiasts would be impressed with the Infiniti.
If you wonder how parent company Nissan went from broken to smokin' in a matter of years, the answer is product, and the G35 is one of its best.