2008 Infiniti G35xS
The G35 sedan is starting to show its age, but I still enjoy getting behind the wheel. There's an effortlessness to the way this car drives that is very satisfying. You just get in, buckle up, put it in gear, press the accelerator, and go; the supple chassis, communicative steering, and willing V-6 take over from there. The seating position and sightlines are pleasing, and the ergonomics, especially with the $2150 navigation package's excellent touch-screen display, are top-notch.
That said, for all its energy, the Infiniti G35's 306-hp, 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6 engine is pretty coarse. It delivers nearly seamless acceleration, but it doesn't sound very good as it does so, with none of the mellifluousness of the BMW straight-sixes, of course, but also falling short of V-6s from Mercedes-Benz and Acura.
I also note that this car is rated at only 17 city, 23 highway, and its five-speed automatic is surely partly to blame. Since Infiniti has recently introduced a slick seven-speed automatic for the new Infiniti FX50, one can assume that it will eventually trickle down to the G as well. The G sedan is due to get Infiniti's larger, 3.7-liter V-6 soon, since that engine is already in the G37 coupe.
For comparison, the all-wheel-drive BMW 3-series sedan is rated at 17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway.
Our tester's base sticker was $34,100, but the car was loaded with some six thousand dollars in options, including a $2300 premium package (moonroof, stereo upgrade, iPod interface, seat memory, Bluetooth, etc. ); a $1100 sport package (magnesium paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, sport seats, special exterior trim); and a $2150 navigation package. With destination, the final price was $40,365, a price point with lots of other attractive options.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
As Joe says, there's something about driving the G35 that is very satisfying. The controls are well placed and intuitive, and the driver's environment is a comfortable place to be. I like that the paddle shifters are placed on the steering column rather than the steering wheel, but that's a personal preference and one that many staffers seem to disagree with. I'm not crazy about the starkness of the monochrome all-black interior in our test car, but the fit and finish and materials are first rate, and the "Japanese Washi paper" finish on the aluminum trim that graces the center console is quite attractive.
I find the V-6 to be very responsive, offering acceleration on demand with no hesitation. Sure, it isn't as smooth and seamless as BMW's inline sixes, but really, is there any six-cylinder engine on the planet that can match BMW's?
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
It's no surprise that Joe and Amy both mentioned BMW when describing this G35. Most around the office will agree that the G cars are not quite equal to a 3-series, but Infiniti is getting close.
The G35 sedan is not as hard-edged as a 328i; the suspension is softer, but still sporty. The power is there, but, as Joe notes, the engine doesn't make nearly as nice a sound. I do like the interior layout better than that of the 3-series, especially the well laid-out controls. Infiniti's navigation system also handily beats iDrive for ease of use and speed. Infiniti's iPod controls are also better integrated, as well.
David Gluckman, Web Producer
I'm struck by how much more pleasant it is to drive the Infiniti G35xS than our Four Seasons G37S coupe. Though its automatic is only a five-speed, I appreciated not having to live with the delicate clutch-throttle relationship in our G37S (which is starting to ruin that car's bargain-BMW appeal for me).
Also, the G35xS has great acceleration and a decent amount of torque (268 lb-ft) for a mid-size sedan, and I don't particularly have an issue with the sound of the V-6. It's a bit raw and coarse - so what. The base price is about the same as the less-powerful BMW 328xi (though the BMW does have more linear steering).
As previously mentioned, I too like the seating position in the G35. The driver sits higher in the sedan than in the G37 coupe (and rightfully so), which is great because keys, coins, and credit cards weren't falling backwards out of my pockets and down under the G's seats the way they do in the coupe. Also, the G35's seatbelt doesn't hit my neck all the time.
David Yochum, Assistant Editor