Engineers Road, a trickle of narrow pavement heading off California 79 at Lake Cuyamaca in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego, scales a flank of North Peak before descending through one hairpin kink after another into an isolated valley that leads toward Julian.
|1. All G37 models are powered by a 328-hp 3.7L V6.
2. Both RWD and AWD versions are offered, although the Sport 6MT model comes exclusively in RWD.
3. The Sport model includes upgrades like a stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, a limited slip differential, and 18-inch wheels, which can also be had as a $2,100 option on other models.
4. In 2010, the G37 received a mid-cycle update with modified bodywork, new gauges and a new LCD screen, plus new interior trim materials. In addition, Intelligent Cruise Control is now available as an option.
We’re following this seldom-traveled trace as it wraps, wiggles and drops into the valley of Boulder Creek while pushing the pace and running revs up to the redline in Infiniti’s spirited G37 premium sports sedan.
Badged as the G37 Sport M6 Sedan, our tester on the California curve course rides on a stiff rear-wheel-drive platform rigged with a sport-tuned suspension and awesome torque developed through a big six-cylinder engine borrowed from Nissan’s swift 370Z sports car.
STYLED FOR THE CHANGING TIMES
Sensuous new sheetmetal on the body and a revamped cockpit with more technology features mark the 2011 G37, which trims out in four versions laced with the seemingly incongruent combination of elegant cabin appointments and sport-tuned mechanical hardware.
But that’s the way Infiniti works the G-car, planting an aggressive personality in the practical format of a four-door and five-seat sedan.
The original G35 sedan rolled out in 2002 as a 2003 model cast strictly in RWD format, quickly spawning a racy two-door model. By 2004, Infiniti borrowed a smart electronic all-wheel-drive (AWD) device from the FX crossover utility vehicle and adapted it to work on the RWD platform of the G35 sedan for snow-country markets. That mechanism carried an obtuse moniker of "advanced total traction engineering system for all electronic torque split." It sounded better when crimped to the long acronym of ATTESA E-TS, and the G-car packing this equipment was dubbed G35x with that letter ‘x’ denoting the AWD traction.
In 2007 the G35 emerged in a second-generation treatment with options for RWD or AWD traction. And in 2009 the nameplate changed to G37 to reflect increased engine displacement from a new dual-cam 3.7-liter V6.
The G37 of 2011 dresses in sleek skin with muscular shoulders and a wave-shaped hood chiseled from painted sheetmetal and sparkling chrome. Humpy blisters over the front fenders are separated by a broad hood that slinks down from the raked windshield to a low front fascia.
Forward corners are pegged by compound headlight clusters with bi-xenon high intensity discharge (HID) lamps as stock, as the smooth prow carries a revised wide-mouthed grille filled with sharp horizontal slats and foglamps reset on the lower fascia below headlamps.
SPORTS CAR HANDLING IN A SEDAN
The G’s platform features front wheels mounted way forward with the engine positioned so that its center of gravity falls behind the front axles. This placement results in a weight distribution biased slightly in favor of front wheels.
Add acceleration out of the curve and the near-perfect weight-balance become obvious, enabling the aggressive driver to carve one corner after another with keen confidence; which is the way we work it on serpentine Engineers Road, testing the limits of tire adhesion.
Steering, through a quick-to-respond rack and pinion mechanism, feels firm despite the assist from a vehicle-speed-sensitive power boost, while competent factory brakes on most models are upgraded on our six-speed test-car, with powerful 4-piston calipers up front delivering impressive stopping power.
All G37 models carry Infiniti’s vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device, which automatically checks lateral skidding on slippery pavement.
STRONG ENGINE WITH FINE PEDIGREE
Motivation for the 2011 G37 stems from an upgraded edition of Nissan’s VQ-series dual-cam V6, keyed to an electronically controlled drive-by-wire throttle. It employs a high-tech valve controller, VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift), and revs all the way to 7600 rpm. At 7000 revolutions, peak power of 328-hp is made, with torque rising to 269 ft-lbs at 5200 rpm.
The G37 supports two transmissions, an incredibly quick shifting seven-speed electronically controlled automatic featuring downshift rev matching (DRM) and manual shift mode (via paddle shifters on the steering wheel), or a six-speed close-ratio manual stick planted on the center console.
Three of the four trim versions of G37 stock the automatic shifter. The three are labeled as a leather-lined base edition G37 sedan, the G37 Journey and the G37x AWD Sedan Sport. A version packing the manual transmission is the G37 Sport M6 Sedan.
Fuel economy for the powerful V6 is reasonably good, with a rating of 19/27-mpg (city/highway) for automatic RWD models and 18/25-mpg for AWD versions. Our manual transmission tester, while plenty of fun, delivers the worst fuel economy of the bunch at 17/25-mpg.
SPORT MODEL OR OPTIONAL SPORT PACKAGE IDEAL FOR ENTHUSIASTS
The G37 Sport M6 Sedan employs a sport-tuned suspension, quicker steering gear, viscous limited-slip differential, larger 14-inch vented disc brakes with four-piston opposed front calipers and 18×7.5-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with summer performance tires (225/50 front and 245/45 rear). These items can also be has as a $2,100 option on automatic models.
New elements introduced in 2010 for 2011 models include revised LCD instruments with a white color scheme for gauges. The optional Hi-Tech Package includes Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation with a 7.0-inch touch screen monitor and 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive, plus XM NavTraffic and NavWeather, streaming audio via Bluetooth and Zagat restaurant guide.
Standard features on G37 range from automatic climate controls to leather upholstery, driver’s seat with eight-way power, keyless entry and starter, an audio kit with six speakers and AM/FM/CD, HID headlights and 17×7.5-inch aluminum wheels with 225/55 all-season tires.
The five-place G37 cabin, with form-fitting seats and lots of electronic gizmos, is an artful design trimmed in leather with aluminum accents. Beauty shapes the outer shell, passion stirs beneath the hood. This is a serious ride with plenty to offer at every turn, and is easily the most capable alternative to BMW’s 335i sedan – at a significantly lower price point. The G37 sedan begins at $33,250 and tops out (before options) at $37,000 for a sport model that lives up to its badge.