The BMW 3 Series has long been held as the pinnacle of what the modern sport sedan/coupe should be: compact, relatively lightweight, excellent power and nimble responses. Despite the billions of dollars spent by dozens of manufacturers to come up with a ‘3 Series Fighter,’ they have all come up short in one aspect or another.
|1. The G37x Coupe starts at $38,700, a solid $5,000 less than a comparable BMW.
2. Power comes from a 330hp 3.7-liter V6.
3. A seven-speed auto-box with paddle shifters is the only transmission available.
The closest one so far has to be the Infiniti G37, which combines a responsive rear-wheel drive chassis with a strong six-cylinder engine, and just the right amount of aggression.
In fact, depending on your price point, the G37 is more car for your dollar than the ubiquitous Bimmer. That’s because Infiniti doesn’t mess around by offering lower-powered versions to offset the cost of entry. The sole engine underhood is the 330-hp 3.7-liter V6, which easily out-powers any 3 Series bar the M3. It certainly sounds promising, eliciting a fantastic throaty roar when pushed.
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEM STILL DELIVERS RWD FEEL
Perhaps the most interesting version of the G37 is the all-wheel-drive coupe model, so remarkably close in spec and performance to the old ‘90s Nissan Skyline GT-R, albeit with bags more luxury and refinement.
The all-wheel drive system shares much of its parts with the new Nissan GT-R, but doesn’t have all the fancy computers. It retains the G37’s rear-drive characteristics by sending 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal operation. When the system detects wheel-spin, it can divert up to 50 per cent of the power to the front wheels, helping stability in less-than-ideal conditions.
Unfortunately for the enthusiasts, the only transmission offered is Infiniti’s new seven-speed automatic, although it does feature paddle-shifters for added control, and the engine rev-matches beautifully on downshifts.
The other tricky feature cribbed from Nissans of old is the 4-Wheel Active Steering that both alters the steering ratio, and points the rear wheels either into or out of a turn, depending on your speed, throttle position, etc.
On top of this, there’s the usual suite of ABS, EBD, Traction Control, Brake Assist and Vehicle Dynamic Control to keep the car pointed in the right direction, while the all-independent suspension and 18-inch wheels and tires keep the car planted. However, inexplicably, the G37x has the smallest brakes of the range, which doesn’t sound promising when you realize it’s the heaviest version available (3,847 lb.), but in everyday driving, it’s not noticeable.
The extra heft also cramps fuel-economy numbers, with the G37x Coupe returning 18/25 mpg city/highway.
MUCH IMPROVED INTERIOR OVER G35
While some may argue that the styling update from original G35 Coupe to the recent G37 is a step backwards, no one can deny the upgrades made to the cabin. Whereas previous versions were easy to spot as the Nissans they were, the new Infiniti is a peach. The seats are supportive, and the gauges are bright and legible. Even the standard seven-inch touch-screen operates the audio system clearly.
The G37x Coupe is the ultimate version, starting at $38,700, which also means it’s ridiculously well equipped. The exterior features HID xenon headlights, fog lights, LED taillights, self-healing Scratch Shield paint, heated mirrors, and chromed dual exhaust.
Inside, you get dual-zone climate control, tilt/telescoping steering, power windows and doors, eight-way leather-covered and heated front seats, and aluminum door trim and kick plates. The standard six-speaker AM/FM/CD with MP3 capability also comes with XM Satellite Radio, and redundant steering-wheel mounted audio controls.
Adding the $3,000 Premium Package nets you the upgraded BOSE audio system, an iPod interface, a power-sliding moonroof, lumbar support for the front seats, power tilt/telescoping steering and Bluetooth hands-free phone system. The $1,150 Technology package includes intelligent cruise control, adaptive front lights, and pre-tensioning seatbelts. Meanwhile, the $2,200 Navigation Package adds a 9.3GB ‘music box’ sound system, hard-drive based navigation system, and a rear-view camera.
All of this technology turns the G37x Coupe into a high-performance sweetheart, and a personal luxury rocket that’s easy to drive under any conditions. Ultimately it falls short of the 335xi’s intuitiveness; however the Infiniti starts at almost $5,000 less than the Bimmer. If only Infiniti offered the Sport-tuned suspension available on the rear-wheel drive Coupe. It would make all the difference in the world.
As for your shopping options, there are few enough powerful coupes at this price range, and even fewer offered with all-wheel drive. The $42,000 Audi A5 gets the looks part down pat, but its underpowered V6 doesn’t elicit the same performance. The new kid on the block is the fully-loaded Track-Package equipped Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which comes within a hair of the performance, and is a bargain at $29,000, but doesn’t come with all-wheel drive.
So the Infiniti stands alone as an excellent performance value and a champ in messy conditions too. Think of it as a 7/10ths Nissan GT-R for half the price… That’s a deal in anyone’s book.