2008 Infiniti G37
Watch out, BMW -- you've got company.
The BMW 3 Series coupe has long set the standard for what a 2-door luxury sports car should be -- handsome-looking both inside and out, along with capable handling and performance on tap. But a new offering from a Japanese luxury brand may soon begin encroaching into the German manufacturer's signature territory.
Visually, the Infiniti G37's silhouette is reminiscent of the car it replaces, with overall dimensions remaining largely unchanged, save for a nearly one-inch increase in length. But this coupe sports a completely new look. The original Infiniti 35's Achilles' heel was its cabin, due to its somewhat low-grade dashboard/center-console materials. But this has been completely addressed: The new car's interior is first-rate, pleasing to the touch and solid in feel. The exterior is now much more muscular-looking, thanks to the redesigned front grille and spoiler, the swept-back "cat's-eye" look of the headlights and the swooping shape of the fenders. But the most powerful element is the combination of wider, more pronounced rear fenders with the inward-tapering C-pillars, giving the new G37 a confident, broad-shouldered look. Handsome and shapely new taillights round out the package.
In addition to its revamped sheet metal, the other big change occurs underhood. The 6-cylinder engine's displacement has been bumped up from 3.5 liters to 3.7 (hence the name change), as has its compression ratio, which has increased from 10.6:1 to 11.0:1. Infiniti has also incorporated a new variable valve timing technology into this powerplant. Dubbed Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL), this system, which allows for cleaner emissions and improved fuel economy along with increased power and a flatter torque curve, is similar to BMW's renowned Valvetronic setup but was cleverly designed with less than half as many parts. These improvements allow this high-revving engine -- a lofty 7500-rpm redline -- to produce 330 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.
Infiniti allowed us to test drive a nearly production-ready prototype (equipped with an optional sport package that includes larger 19-in. wheels, a slightly stiffer suspension and a quicker steering rack than standard) recently at the company's proving grounds in the Arizona desert, and we were impressed with this handsome 2-door's poise and performance. The G37 slithered through the corners of the road course with nearly zero body roll, a tell-tale sign of a well developed suspension. More impressive still was the chassis' demeanor under sudden, hard braking out on the high-speed oval -- while many production cars display a pronounced and unsettling nose dive, the G37 remained rock-solid steady. But the most driver-friendly attribute of all was the car's outstanding steering that provides exceptionally communicative feedback to the driver. Another performance plus: All G37 models will feature terrific stopping power thanks to large, 4-piston 14-in. front brakes (2-piston 13.8-in. at the rear) as standard equipment. And a nifty new option will be available -- 4-wheel steering.
Look for the all-new Infiniti G37 coupe in dealer showrooms this August.
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