In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport

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 VQ37 VHR V6 producing 330 horsepower. We'll require some all-season rubber and a clear 7-day forecast before we take the keys, though.

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