2003 Infiniti G35

0203 Infiniti G35 03

As a racer, Mizuno took his high-speed aerodynamics seriously. Thus, the G35 has an ultra-low 0.27 Cd (0.26 with an optional spoiler). Thanks to scrupulous attention to underbody airflow, the standard car suffers zero front-end lift. With an available Aero package, rear lift also is eliminated.

Designed inside and out by Nissan in Japan, the G35 has moments of aesthetic interest. Peaked front fenders (with stacked headlamps) give the car an unusual catamaran look. But the rear window line and the G35's C-pillar/rear-quarter-panel region seem deeply derivative of recent Audi efforts--late-'90s Teutonic style totems but, by now, a little bland.

The taillamps, by contrast, are in-your-face fresh. Lit by eighteen light-emitting diodes, they lend a nice Tokyo-at-midnight feeling to the posterior, recalling some of Japan's more psychedelic '70s efforts at rear lighting. As an added bonus, they're brighter than hell and last forever.

Inside, the instrument binnacle tilts with the steering wheel, but other than that (and the fact that rear seats can be had in bench or bucket configurations, both with a trunk pass-through), there are few surprises in the G35's handsome, well-trimmed interior.

0203 Infiniti G35 04

One last question: What's it like to drive? Rapid, classy, and possessed of what may turn out to be a brilliant chassis. First impression, however, is that it's still not quite as much fun as, say, a BMW 3-series and is a delight-factor notch beneath a Lexus IS300. Thus far, the defining interplay between engine and gearbox has yet to gel. Some more lively steering is also required to help telegraph that most essential message--"Hey, bud, let's party!"--the way our favorite fun-to-drive machines do.

G35s will be available in Luxury (cloth seating) or Leather editions and may be equipped additionally with Premium, Sport, and Aero packages, so the price range will be wide. But all G35s should cost thousands less than an equivalently equipped Bimmer, with prices expected to start north of $26,000.

It's fast, it's fleet, and its reliability is presumed. And that six-speed is coming. We're not betting against the G35.

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