Driving Northwest: The Infiniti G37S convertible

Print
Email
|

by TOM VOELK / KING 5 car expert

NWCN.com

Posted on July 8, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 8 at 3:53 PM

The Infiniti G37 is one of the few luxury sport sedans that has been able to take on the celebrated BMW 3 Series in the performance category.  Like the Bimmer it’s no slouch when accelerating.  Both are great fun in the corners, and the two are available as hardtop convertibles. 

Gazing at the G droptop it’s not as immediately pegged as such, at least not compared to others in class.  Two seams in the roofline are the immediate giveaway but there’s no big fat butt that plagues even the Ferrari California.  J Lo this is not. The engineers at Infiniti managed to keep the tail pretty svelte.  Those who know their Infiniti’s will recall that they’ve built a convertible in the past, the M30.  That was long ago and a cloth top away.  The G’s top takes 30 seconds to perform it’s ballet.  It’s a show people love to watch.

No small effort.

To make the G37 equal parts thrill ride and tanning bed, 450 pounds of heft and a whole lot of mechanicals were stuffed into it.  The suspension is different from the sedan and the coupe’s body panels are completely unique from the windshield back.  Just one button push gets you from shelter to sky.  The obvious advantage to a hardtop design is that knives aren’t effective against them.  Wish the Infiniti had Volkswagen Eos’s glass panel that glides sunroof-like rearward.  Wish the VW had the G’s looks and performance. 
 
The V6 is 3.7-liter VVEL (it stands for Variable Valve Event and Lift) and makes 325 hp in the convertible.  That’s 5 less than sedan and coupe.  The growl sounds appropriately sporty and the resonance builds as the revs rise.  Choose between a 6-speed manual or a well disciplined seven-speed automatic with sport mode.  My tester is the auto box and enthusiasts will love the downshift rev matching.  Manual shift mode?  Of course.  Get the Sport Package and Infiniti throws in magnesium paddle shifters behind the leather wrapped steering wheel.

Proper rear-drive performance. 

Drop the pedal and 0-60 happens in a rapid 5.5 seconds.  Not quite as quick as the fixed roof version, the combo of less HP and more lbs. is not above the laws of physics.  Convertibles often suffer from chassis shudder and flex but the G is G-whiz solid.Could be weight, might be the suspension but the convertible isn’t quite as sharp in hard cornering as coupe and sedan.  It’s a small price to pay to get a great view of the sky.  Ride quality with the Sport Package is quite firm but still acceptable for those who love to drive.  EPA rates fuel economy at 17 city / 25 highway.  It prefers premium.

Standard on all G Convertibles is the expected electronic stability controls with cancel and switch and traction control.  Braking is taken on by standard 4-wheel vented discs with 4-channel, 4-sensor Anti-lock Brakes,  Electronic Brake Force Distribution Brake Assist.  Move up to the Sport Package and the binders are enhanced with ventilated rotors measuring 14.0-inch up front and 13.8-inch rear.  Also thrown in?  Four-piston aluminum calipers up front, two-piston calipers in the rear complete with embossed Infiniti lettering (in case you forget what kind of car you bought).

Bring the inside out.

The interior looks identical to the sedan and coupe but has unique features.  The iPod friendly Bose sound system is specifically tailored for droptop use and there’s 2GB of storage for MP3 files.  Top down, the smart climate system blows more cool air when slowing down on a hot day, the reverse on a chilly fall drive. Available seats are heated and cooled, extending convertible season.  The chairs are comfortable, supportive and bottoms are adjustable for length. 

There’s the Infiniti signature clock and the excellent interface that’s both knob and touch screen operated, which ever works best for you.  Like any LCD display it’s affected by bright sun.  Aluminum trim inspired by Japanese silk can be switched for real maple bark.  Gauges don’t get obscured by the tilt/telescope wheel because the whole assembly moves as one piece.  Nice.

In the back seat there there’s room for two... cats.  Kidding.  Sort of.  Two younger kids will be OK back here but adults won’t want to spend any meaningful time because they’ll be a bit scrunched.  Not any real leg or foot room and at 5’9” I’m doing my best Quasimoto imitation when the top is up.No cupholders of real storage of any kind in back.

Practical?  Depends.

Buyers don’t expect a lot of cargo room from convertibles.  G37 has a Jekyll and Hyde personality with this space.  Top up it handles an impressive 5 packs of Kirkland brand bath tissue, the same as a standard BMW 3 Series sedan.  Those wanting to soak up the sun should travel light though.  Top stowed there’s barely enough space for sunscreen and a pair of flip flops. You want practical?  Buy a minivan.

Infiniti G37 convertible starts at around 45 grand.  My tester with Premium, Sport and Navigation packages is $51,800.  Not cheap but it is well done and very comparable to it’s BMW competition.  It’s next closest competitor is the Lexus IS convertible but that’s more of a cruiser.  The well rounded Infiniti offers up performance, security and a tan line.  No ifs, ands, or big butts.
 

Print
Email
|