2007 Infiniti G35 Expert Review
Click image for a gallery of 39 high-res shots of the G35 sport
It's not easy living in the midwest and reviewing vehicles, specifically in Cleveland, Ohio where schizophrenic weather that calls for boots and gloves on Monday can switch to shades and shorts by Tuesday.
In mid January, Infiniti gave us the choice to test either the 2007 G35 S or G35x AWD. At the time, skies were blue and the temperature mild, so we felt comfortable indulging ourselves by ordering up the G35 S. This would allow us to review the new 306-hp VQHR 3.5L V6 in its unadulterated, rear-wheel drive glory. Little did we know that by the time our car was delivered in early February, the region would be gripped by the biggest snowstorm of the year. To make matters worse, our car wasn't able to be fitted with all-season tires and arrived wearing a set of well-worn, low profile summer tires. This was going to be interesting.
We engineered our schedules so that the Infiniti tester would be our sole means of transport from Cleveland to Chicago for the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. Ideally, the 700-mile round trip was to be the perfect laboratory in which to test all facets of the new G sedan's performance. In reality, it became a white-knuckle drive through fog, freezing rain and snow at 35 mph. Our dream of reaching Chicago in record time was shattered the first time a Kia Sorento passed us without a care in the world. Though the new VQ V6 kept tempting us to tap the gas, each stab was greeted with a wave from the back end. So while our attempts to flog the 2007 Infiniti G35 S were thwarted in every meaningful sense, we have have lots to talk about after spending a week with the car.
The 2007 Infiniti G37 Coupe has already been revealed ahead of its official debut at the New York Auto Show next week, and the application of the G's redesign to the two-door has received mixed reviews. The sedan, in our opinion, wears the new organically shaped sheetmetal better. The new G35 sedan comes off as a direct evolution of the first generation model. Straight lines and creases have been universally replaced with curves around the whole body, while the visual weight of the car has increased. According to our research, the 2007 model is about 100 lbs. heavier than last year's, as well as being a half an inch longer, less than an inch wider and half an inch shorter in height.
We think the G35's best angle is a head on shot thanks to its new grille. Whereas the old model sported a few horizontal bars, the new G35 features four chrome bars that are "crimped" on the outside and thinner in the middle. The HID bi-xenon headlights also have a more expressive shape, which gives the car an evil glare befitting its performance prowess more than the previous car's wide-eyed stare.
The G35 sedan's profile is clean and not adorned with any cladding. There's an indented character line down by the base of the vehicle that begins after the front wheel and extends across the rear wheel. From the side, it's clear that Infiniti designers wanted the sedan's shape to imply that of a coupe, hence the chrome outline around the windows that ignores the blacked out B-pillar and the general rearward bias of the car's greenhouse.
The rear of Infiniti's new G35, however, is its least flattering angle. While we loved our tester's Garnet Amber paint (read: red), the color overwhelms the rear and makes it look larger than it actually is. The short deck lid topped by an awful chrome "spoiler" and red-colored taillights don't help. Infiniti should consider blacking out a portion of the rear below the bumper to reduce the visual height, as well as clear taillamp covers to differentiate the stoppers on cars wearing this color.
The award for most improved component on the new Infiniti G35 has to go to the car's interior. The first generation was constantly derided for its cheap interior plastics, and Infiniti made a point to address this criticism with better materials, lots of leather and a new surface texture for the center console modeled after Japanese washi paper. We dig it cause it's different than the overused nickel metal or aluminum trim on other cars and offers a subtle connection to the car's Japanese origins.
The front seats in our S model were heavily bolstered, clueing us into the fact that this sedan is a sports car underneath its utilitarian skin. While the black leather-covered chairs weren't the most comfortable for a 700-mile slog, they do feature 8-way power adjustments. In addition to the bolstering for your legs and body side, the S model also gets a thigh extension on the front of the seat, though ours didn't like to securely lock in position.
These new Infinitis come with keyless entry and starting the car is a simple matter of leaving the fob in your pocket and pressing a start button on the dash. The fob itself is a little disappointing, since it's based on the same one you get with a Nissan Versa, though we've become fans of keyless entry, if only for the reason that it eliminates the risk of scratching surfaces on the interior and exterior. Plus, pushing a start button is way cooler than turning a key. We also give props to whoever designed the G35's new steering wheel, as the old wheel was a major touch point that contributed to the interior's cheapy feel.
Not all was roses and tulips inside the new G35 sedan, however. The top of the center console is dominated by a 7-inch recessed screen that features an iDrive-like controller and set of buttons angled up towards the ceiling. While this display would've been great had our tester been equipped with the $2,100 Navigation Package that adds touchscreen navi and a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive, it was not. Instead, the display sits front and center as a reminder you were too cheap to get the upgraded system.
Since all G35s come with the 7-inch screen and accompanying controls, those without the nav system serve to display only radio functions, HVAC settings, fuel mileage and other various bits of info. Of course, there are redundant physical controls for the radio and HVAC immediately below the screen, and the other functions displayed on the screen would normally be found in a small display nestled between the gauges. Without the nav system, the display comes off as completely unnecessary and overkill for the few functions it performs. The upward-angled controls, meanwhile, are difficult to use and not entirely intuitive. Infiniti's touchscreen nav system is above average in capability and ease of use, and after our experience with this tester we wouldn't consider buying the G35 without it. Unfortunately, those who feel the same will be forced to add over $2,000 to the price of the car.
Many things can be forgiven, however, when the start button is depressed and the new VQHR 3.5L V6 comes to life. Our G35 S model burbled like a sports car in idle and blasted a heavy metal soundtrack when opened up, which wasn't often, considering our area was hit by the biggest snow storm of the season upon our return from Chicago. Nevertheless, we found some safe roads to floor it and were instantly intoxicated with this new engine. Like previous VQ V6s, the new generation offers gobs of power and feels eager to pull across the rev range. In fact, the G35 S left us wondering if it were really just a Nissan 350Z with two extra doors.
We've read other reviews of the new G35 that have panned it for being a little too loud, a little too raucous, and a little too extroverted, so to speak. Know that if you opt for the S model, you're just asking for more of it. It drops any pretension of being a luxury sedan and goes straight for the throat, aligning the willing engine with a stiff suspension, tight steering and sweet snicking 6-speed manual. We're not entirely convinced, however, that we'd want to live with the Sport model as a daily driver, as the base and/or G35x AWD models likely offers much cushier seats and a ride that soaks up bumps rather than traces their outline.
Unfortunately, we're not able to offer more on the performance of Infiniti's G35 S since we drove it at 35 mph in a straight line for 700 miles before returning home and discovering it swallowed by a snow drift the next day. The gods were against us on this one, which means we'll just have to do it again when the new G37 Sport Coupe becomes available with an even bigger version of the VQ37VHR V6 producing 330 horsepower. We'll require some all-season rubber and a clear 7-day forecast before we take the keys, though.
New Car Test Drive
Extensive upgrades improve a true sports sedan.
The Infiniti G35 sedan has been remade for 2007. The body of the four-door sedan is updated, giving it a tauter, more buff look but without forfeiting its signature styling cues. Inside, there's a richer, warmer look and feel, with performance-oriented enhancements that add to the driving experience.
The 2007 Infiniti G35 uses rear-wheel drive, a necessity for true sporty handling. But there's also an all-wheel-drive model, the G35x, that gives up none of the handling but adds capability in rainy climes and where winters bring snow. The V6 engine on the 2007 models is more powerful and more efficient than before even though it's the same size. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode remains standard across the line. However, the Sport model kicks it up a notch, offering a choice between a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic with Formula 1 style magnesium paddle shifters on the steering column.
G35 buyers choose from four versions: a nicely equipped entry-level model with leather trim and automatic climate control; the Journey model with dual-zone air conditioning, a navigation system, a premium audio system, and a self-adjusting cruise control; the G35x with all-wheel drive; and a revised Sport model with upgraded front seats, active four-wheel steering with variable ratio power steering and a firmer suspension that turns the G35 into a serious sports sedan.
The substantially reworked 2007 engine invites a heavy right foot, delivering its added power smoothly and strongly right up to the borderline motorcycle-level, 7500-rpm red line. The icing on this cake is that estimated fuel economy for the 2007 model is up over the '06, by 1 mile per gallon, at least for those who can resist the implicit urge.
Infiniti didn't forget the people just along for the ride. The base sound system is competitive with that in any luxury sedan. But committed audiophiles will find the top-level, Studio On Wheels system from Bose delivers a richer, fuller, more intricate and crisper sound than many mega-buck home stereos.
When Infiniti first arrived in the U.S., many saw it as Japan's counterpart to Jaguar, much like Lexus was perceived as Japan's answer to Mercedes-Benz. That's changed, at least the part about Infiniti. Clearly, Infiniti has now set its sights on BMW, long touted as the ultimate driving machine. The 2007 G35 sedan is loosening BMW's grip on that crown.
Unlike the sedan, the 2007 G35 coupe carries over unchanged from 2006. It will be redesigned and introduced as a new model for 2008.
The new, 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan comes in four models, all powered by the same 3.5-liter V6 engine making 306 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a five-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and a six-speed manual.
Standard across the line are leather-appointed upholstery; automatic climate control; power driver and front passenger seat; power windows, outside mirrors and central locking; AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary audio input; multi-function trip computer; seven-inch, color, center-dash, LCD monitor; tilt and telescoping steering wheel; analog gauge cluster that tilts with the steering column; aluminum interior trim; RFID-based, keyless ignition; HID, bi-xenon headlamps; fold-down, rear center armrest with lockable, trunk pass-through; and painted, aluminum-alloy wheels.
The base G35 comes with an in-dash, single-CD player; an eight-way power driver's seat and a four-way power front passenger seat; and P225/55R17 tires. The automatic is the only transmission available, and no options are available.
The G35 Journey comes standard with automatic climate control. The front passenger's seat gets eight-way power. The stereo gets an in-dash, six-CD changer. The automatic comes standard. The optional Premium Package adds a power sunroof with shade, heated front seats, an upgraded memory system for seat preferences and such, power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, power driver's seat lumbar, and a 10-speaker Bose Studio on Wheels system with Burr Brown Digital Audio Converters.
The Navigation Package consists of a GPS-based system employing a 30GB hard disc drive (which displaces the in-dash, six-CD changer to the trunk and contains a 9.5GB partition for user-recorded audio tracks); MP3-capable compact flash media slot (also used to copy audio to the HDD and update the map database); lane guidance, which preps a driver for a left or right exit ramp from a freeway; voice recognition for climate control, audio and navigation; and a three-month trial subscription to Sirius or XM satellite radio, the latter including real-time traffic information where available. A performance tire and wheel package includes 225/50R18 front tires and 245/50R18 rear tires on lightweight, cast-aluminum wheels. An African Rosewood interior trim package is also available.
The G35x AWD comes with heated front seats. The option list is the same as that offered on the Journey, excluding the performance tires and wheels package.
The Sport offers a choice of automatic transmission or six-speed manual. The automatic's manual-mode gear selection is operated either with the shift lever or by magnesium shift levers mounted on the steering column. Pedals are aluminum with black rubber nibs. A viscous limited slip differential is standard, as is the performance tire and wheel package. The driver's seat has power-adjustable thigh and torso bolsters, and both front seats come with manual thigh-support, seat-bottom extensions. A rear spoiler and four-wheel steering with variable ratio power steering and a sportier suspension are optional.
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage frontal airbags with occupant detection and seatbelt pretensioners and load limiters; front seat-mounted, side-impact airbags (for torso protection); roof-mounted, front and rear side-impact air curtains (for head protection); active front-seat head restraints; rear seat child safety seat anchors (LATCH); antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; electronic stability control; and front fog lamps. An optional Technology Package adds Intelligent Cruise Control, which adjusts the speed for traffic conditions independent of driver input; adaptive front lighting, which swivels headlights as much as 17 degrees in the direction of a turn; Preview Braking, which senses an impending stop or slowing and primes the brake hydraulics; and rear view video monitor.
Stylistically, the new, 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan doesn't venture far outside the shadow of its predecessor (the 2003-2006 models). By the tape, its wheelbase (distance between the tires front to rear) is identical to the '06, its overall length adds half an inch, it's less than in inch wider and it actually loses a half-inch in height. To the eye, it retains the styling cues and overall proportions of the '06, but slicked up a little, for a sleeker, yet more dramatic look.
The grille doesn't change shape, but its crossbars flatten at their extremes, an expression the car's stylists liken to sword blades. Compound, multi-element, L-shaped headlight housings wrap around the fenders. A one-piece fascia with large air intakes across its lower reaches embraces the front end. The tops of the front fenders flow over into the hood, emphasizing the G35's width and enhancing its planted look.
The side view presents a relatively long hood, steeply raked windshield, fast backlight and brief rear deck, giving the 2007 G35 the look of a sporty coupe over that of a four-door sedan. Recessed door handles sit almost flush with the sheetmetal. Tires snugly fill slightly flared, circular wheelwells. A rocker panel accented by a deep indent along the bottom of the doors pulls the sides of the G35 closer to the road.
Large, LED taillights repeat the L-shape of the headlights, crossing over from the fenders into the trunk lid. The trunk opening dips several inches into the rear fascia, compensating somewhat for the restricted opening imposed by the short rear deck. Proper dual exhaust tips exit beneath each side of the fully integrated rear bumper.
The interior of the new 2007 Infiniti G35 sedan is livelier and friendlier than the '06's without being fussy or overly busy. There's luxury aplenty, but tempered by a focus on function, on connecting the driver to the car while at the same time providing passengers a pleasant and comfortable environment and entertaining diversions.
Most commendable is Infiniti's refusal to follow the crowd, lemming-like, and dump many everyday settings and functions into a multi-level, virtual bin and make them accessible only through a single, often counter-intuitive and super-sensitive, massive knob planted in the center console. Yes, the new G35 has a large, multi-function, knob-like control in the panel beneath the screen at the top center of the dash, but its duties and operational planes are limited, minimally distracting and difficult to confuse or unwittingly activate.
This leaves controls for climate and most audio settings conveniently located out in the open, on the face of the center stack, audio above and climate below, as they should be. With the navigation system, all elements of which are managed by that aforementioned knob and neighboring switches supplemented by voice commands, comes a slot below the climate panel for the compact flash media. And the nav system has one of the more pleasant perspectives, called the Birds Eye, that gives a perception of distance, incorporating a horizon and, depending on the available mapping data, three dimensional building footprints for the local surroundings.
Standard trim accents are aluminum alloy, finished in what the designers call Washi, a texture intended to recall traditional Japanese rice paper; the optional African Rosewood trim looks as authentic as it is. Violet hues dress up white-on-black gauges.
The seats are comfortable, with thigh support a bit above average; even so, we wish the manual thigh-support extensions on the Sport models were standard or at least available across the line. The adjustable torso and thigh bolsters on the Sport models do what they're supposed to but favor slender bodies. The gas pedal and the rest for the driver's left foot are on different planes, leaving the knees at different angles, which is not the most comfortable position for long drives or for spirited motoring on winding roads.
The Bose Studio On Wheels delivers a sound that's richer, fuller, more intricate and crisper than any system we can recall in cars costing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars more than the G35. In fact, and although we're not prepared to go as far as Infiniti and compare it with a custom-configured, high-tech, in-home system, we stepped directly from a 2007 G35 sedan into a $100,000-plus, European sports coupe with that marque's top-level sound system and could not distinguish the two stereos. The G35's system's digital processing and eight-channel equalizer no doubt play a huge part, but our ears told us that almost as important is the Bose-designed speaker array. Infiniti claims, for instance, that the G35 is the first in the industry with a three-way, 10-inch subwoofer in each front door; the remaining eight speakers are traditionally located, with another 10-inch woofer in the rear parcel shelf, a 6.5-inch, full-range speaker in each rear door, three mid-range speakers across the front of the cabin and a one-inch tweeter in each A-pillar.
As for interior roominess, the 2007 G35 sedan's designers somehow managed to find almost two inches more front seat headroom, an inch more rear seat legroom and almost three inches more front seat hiproom inside a car essentially the same size if not a smidgen smaller than the previous (pre-2007) G35 sedan; trunk space, though, declines by more than a cubic foot. Wide rear door openings leave room aplenty for legs, knees and feet. Against the most probable competition, the BMW 330i and the Lexus IS 350, the new G35 sedan is as roomy or roomier in all.
The Infiniti G35 sedan benefits from some serious work on the powertrain and suspension for 2007 and the results are immediately apparent underway. Only then does the full significance of the changes to for 2007 become clear.
The engine may be the same displacement and configuration, but it's far from merely a mildly tweaked carryover from the 2006 G35. By way of emphasis, Infiniti says some 80 percent of the engine's major components have been redesigned. Variable exhaust valve timing has been added, for example. A beefier engine block, modified pistons and, of course, new coding in the engine management computer have endowed the engine with a higher rev limit, now 7500 revolutions per minute versus last year's 6600 rpm. These modifications, together with a higher compression ratio (10.6:1 vs. 10.3:1), additional knock sensors, improved cooling, Iridium spark plugs and a freer flowing intake and exhaust system, not only boost the horsepower but also are supposed to deliver that added power more smoothly and over a broader power curve.
It works. Where last year's engine seemed to run out of breath, so to speak, as it neared its red line, the '07's pulls right up to its maximum rpm. It willingly and heartily revs to levels normally associated with smaller, less complex engines, along the lines, say, of the 2.2-liter, four-cylinder screamer that powers the Honda S2000 sports car. Fuel economy is up, too, by one mile per gallon in both city and highway driving, according to EPA estimates. That said, the new G35 still trails the 2006 BMW 330i and Lexus IS 350 by as much as 2 mpg in city and highway driving.
The transmissions ably handle the engine's power and power curve. Clutch operation on the six-speed manual is heavier than we would expect on a sedan, even a sports sedan. This makes for sometimes rocky clutch engagement, especially at low speeds and light throttle. A luxury car's shift lever ought not vibrate as much as the one in the pre-sale test car, but Infiniti techies said this was an anomaly that will be cured in cars built for sale to consumers. Similar assurances were given for a whine in the first four gears that evoked memories of straight-cut gears in full-on race cars. Shift pattern and gear selection, though, were tight and precise, respectively, requiring little effort.
The automatic does its job rather casually at part throttle. Holding the right foot unwaveringly hard to the floor produced sharper, more solid shifts at the engine's redline. The automatic changes gears the quickest and, interestingly, the smoothest with either the shift lever or the column-mounted paddles and under full throttle; it's like a power shift but without the clutch. Credit this to the engine's electronics, which feather the throttle through the instantaneous shift. The same electronics deliver smooth downshifts, too, whether in full auto mode or manual override, by blipping the throttle to match engine rpm to transmission speed in the lower gear; think double clutching a pure, manual gearbox.
Ride and handling are consistent across the line with the notable and commendable exception of the Sport models with four-wheel steer. Besides actively adjusting the rear wheel toe by up to a degree depending on vehicle speed and steering angle, that option brings with it a sportier shock and spring setup and road speed-sensitive, variable ratio power steering. For hustling down winding roads, this suspension and 4WS combination is the preferred. And it's not all that far out of its element cruising the Interstate. It's solid and taut and manages the G35's mass very well without exacting a price in stiffness. It's firm, yes, and will transmit pavement heaves more dramatically into the passenger compartment. But over anything less than chunking blacktop or weathered concrete, it gives up very little against the standard suspension, which leans a bit more toward supple. Not.
The 2007 Infiniti G35 is Nissan's entry in the highly competitive sports sedan class. And it's definitely competitive, with its slick styling, comfortable interior, power and handling on par with any of its peers. For people wanting a sports sedan that's as accommodating of its passengers as it is rewarding for its driver, the new G35 is hard to beat.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Tom Lankard filed this report from Lenox, Massachusetts.
Infiniti G35; G35 Journey; G35x AWD; G35 Sport.
Options As Tested
Premium Package; Technology Package; Navigation Package; Four Wheel Active Steer Package.
Infiniti G35 Sport.
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