Infiniti is ready to cross over into Europe for the first time in late 2008 with a lineup that includes its highly desirable G37 coupe and sedan, as well as the next-generation FX crossover and this, the EX37. Unlike the more docile Infiniti EX35 we recently reviewed in the Autoblog Garage, the EX37, as its moniker suggests, is powered by the new 3.7L VQ V6 that's also used in the G37 cars. In the EX37, it produces a RAV4-humbling 305 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque and is mated to a seven-speed automatic rather than the five-speed auto used in the States. Suddenly, the 3.5L V6 in the EX35 we just reviewed with 297 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque just doesn't seem to cut it. The 3.7L V6 should make the EX37 one of the fastest compact crossovers in the world, as well as one of the best handling since its based on the same platform as the G37 and Nissan 350Z.
INFINITI EX37: THE WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL COMPACT CROSSOVER
Any new car buyer wanting a vehicle with the style of a coupé and the versatility of a four-wheel drive crossover would have had to buy two cars to satisfy every need.
But that's about to change. The launch of the Infiniti EX37, the world's first compact coupe crossover, opens an entirely new market segment for Europe's newest car brand.
Boasting avantgarde coupé looks and a practical, luxury interior with the commanding driving position and four-wheel drive traction expected from an SUV, the EX really does provide the best of all worlds.
"Infiniti prides itself on offering something different with each of its model ranges, but the EX is easily the most different of all," says Jim Wright, Vice President, Infiniti Europe.
"It's the perfect fusion of a compact Crossover and a stylish coupé: there's nothing quite like it on the market today ... though we are certain that rival manufacturers will quickly try to follow suit with their own variations on the theme."
But there's more to the remarkable EX than a ground-breaking concept. Built to the same exacting standards as all Infiniti models, the EX37 offers an exceptional combination of elegance, style, performance and technology.
It is the first production vehicle in the world to benefit from the advanced Around View Monitor system that gives the driver a bird's eye view of the vehicle while it's being parked and the unique 'Scratch Shield'.
"Because it is such a versatile offering, the EX37 will attract a wide audience. It's the perfect vehicle for a young family, or a sports enthusiast who enjoys skiing or cycling. It will appeal to the coupé owner who needs more space in his or her car but isn't prepared to sacrifice style to get it," says Bastien Schupp, Marketing Director, Infiniti Europe.
"And like the other Infiniti products being introduced to the European market, it will appeal to individuals and free thinkers who never take the default option."
EX at a glance
- Unique combination of style and practicality
- Intelligent four-wheel drive
- Advanced features including Around View Monitor
- Potent 3.7-litre V6 engine producing over 310PS
- Advanced seven-speed automatic
- Superior build quality
The Infiniti EX37 is likely to be one of the most talked about new models launched in 2008. Powered by a new 3.7-litre version VQ family of petrol engines, EX37 brings together three different elements in one elegantly attractive package.
Its distinctive coupé-like styling masks a roomy cabin with electric fold down rear seats to extend the load bay and turn it into a sports estate. And then there's the raised driving position and four-wheel drive traction of an SUV to consider. It all makes EX perhaps the ultimate Crossover.
Based on the Infiniti FM platform, EX37 shares much of its hardware with both the G37 and G37 Coupé. As a result, it enjoys the same high levels of handling precision and balance as well as similar levels of performance, refinement, build quality and equipment.
EX37 is available with a new seven-speed automatic transmission while the suspension design - double wishbone set up at the front and multi-link arrangement at the rear - delivers the ideal blend between sporting handling and superior ride comfort.
Following usual Infiniti peace of mind, EX37 comes exceptionally well equipped as standard, while for those who want more there is a full leather version available as well as a multimedia package introducing advanced new technology to the market sector.
Despite its Crossover status, EX37 has been designed following traditional Coupé lines. That means a stretched wheelbase, long bonnet, short overhangs and a sharply tapering roof line. It is noticeably lower than its key rivals which helps to accentuate its low centre of gravity and lends more credence to its Crossover status.
Although longer than most of its SUV rivals – which benefits interior space – a compact overall shape help give EX37 the best aerodynamic positioning in the sector.
Above all, though, it's the balanced harmony of its lines that help EX claim a unique place in a crowded market. Its designers have skilfully blended enough signature elements – such as the double arch grille, wave form bonnet and L-shaped headlamps – to ensure it's an obvious member of the Infiniti family. Yet the overall effect is quite unlike anything in the range.
A bold and masculine stance contrasts with the flowing curves over the high wheelarches and the dramatic slope of the roofline. The rear has a simple, almost three dimensional, appearance combining an energetic shape with elegant styling features such as the chrome door handles, LED rear lights and integrated rear spoiler.
A feeling of sophistication comes with the use of darkened privacy glass for the rear windows, the simple seven-spoke 18 inch alloy wheels and fog lamps which are set deep into the front aero bumper.
Chassis and driving dynamics
EX37 uses the second generation version of Infiniti FM platform in which the engine is located in a 'front midships' position: the compact V6 is mounted in the front of the car, but as low and as far back as possible, with most of the block behind the front axle line.
The result lowers the centre of gravity and helps to deliver the optimum front to rear weight distribution. It also permits use of a long bonnet to accentuate the classic coupé silhouette.
Suspension design uses lightweight aluminium components to reduce weight as much as possible. With a double wishbone set up at the front, a multi-link arrangement mounted on a subframe behind and an extremely rigid bodyshell, EX feels agile and surefooted with a refined ride.
With extensive use of high strength steel throughout the shell and added strengthening elements in critical parts of the structure – notably under floor crossmembers and C-pillar reinforcements – EX has exceptionally high torsional rigidity and lateral bending resistance.
As well as boosting handling, the rigid body improves refinement thanks to low levels of vibration and improved resonance.
To keep weight to a minimum, however, extensive use has been made of lightweight parts. As well as featuring in the suspension systems, aluminium is used for the EX37 bonnet, while the tailgate is resin. Were steel to be used for those elements, EX37 would be some 50kg heavier. As a result EX37 is one of the lightest cars in its class.
Ride quality is also helped by the use of advanced Dual Flow Path (DFP) dampers which reduce low speed vibration that leads to a choppy ride and which further reduce levels of body roll.
An essential element of its crossover role is the adoption of Infiniti's ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel drive system.
Also available on the G37, the system uses an active torque distribution management system with an active centre clutch for smooth starts, greater grip and better manoeuvrability on slippery surfaces without compromising the vehicle's rear-wheel drive performance characteristics on dry roads.
By constantly adjusting the power – sending anything from 50 per cent to the front, to up to 100 per cent to the rear – the system generates greater control without sacrificing sportiness and true performance dynamics.
Unlike permanent 4x4 systems, which deaden the steering feel and dull the driving dynamics, the electromagnetic torque transfer at the heart of ATTESA E-TS intelligent all-wheel drive's system permits an element of oversteer for a more sporting drive.
Vehicle stability is further enhanced by Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with is a standard fit. Intelligent all-wheel drive works with ESP and the limited-slip differential, constantly shifting torque as the EX37 encounters changes in the road conditions when, within milliseconds, it will apportion power to the wheels with the most grip.
The system is most active in trickier weather conditions. As the EX37 navigates snow, ice, or heavy rain, power is continuously apportioned to the wheel or wheels with the best traction.
Power-assisted four-wheel vented disc brakes have a four-channel, four-sensor Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA). A further refinement is the availability of Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA). An integral part of Intelligent Cruise Control, when the system detects that a collision with a car in front is imminent it first warns the driver and then brakes the car itself.
The braking system is just one aspect of the EX37 that has been tuned to meet European needs where higher average speeds mean higher deceleration requirements. A team of dedicated Infiniti engineers based at Nissan's Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) have also fine tuned suspension settings and optimised aerodynamic efficiency for greater higher speed stability.
The power steering system provides optimum steering effort at both high and low vehicle speeds.
Engine and powertrain
The EX37 is powered by a new 3.7-litre version of VQ engine family. Regularly honoured in independent awards the world over, the twin cam 24 valve V6 produces over 310PS and an impressive over 350Nm of torque.
Among its many features, the lightweight aluminium engine features a bed-plate construction. A technique that has been used in motor racing for many years, the resulting two-part construction of the cylinder block is more rigid than a single piece casting. Among engine specialists, this configuration signifies a high-performance sporting engine which is uncompromisingly designed for the highest strength and reliability.
Other benefits include reduced vibration levels and higher engine speeds to be reached consistently without damage.
The VQ37 unit also features V-VEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) technology to optimise efficiency and, in turn, the balance between power, response, fuel efficiency and emissions.
V-VEL continually alters valve lift and therefore the quantity of air in the combustion chamber. At partial throttle – in stop-go city traffic, for example – it will make a small lift thus achieving a more precise fuel/air mix with lower quantities of both to improve fuel consumption. At full throttle, the valve lift is greater, inducting a larger quantity of air into the combustion chamber.
The result is a more powerful combustion phase increasing torque and power... while the increase in power is balanced by more efficient combustion to the benefit of fuel economy.
Precise mapping of the ECU, meanwhile, helps the engine provide a progressive 'swell' of power and torque, providing a 'building wave' of acceleration rather than a peaky power delivery.
EX37 will be available with a new seven-speed automatic option with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC).
With its additional forward gear, the new automatic transmission has a wider spread of ratios which benefits both fuel consumption and drivability. The seventh speed is effectively an overdrive ratio, returning improved fuel economy on a steady throttle without compromising in-gear flexibility for overtaking.
Shift points are tuned to keep the engine in the largest part of the torque curve, ensuring there is always a healthy reserve when the driver wants to overtake. The linked ASC system switches between three different programs depending on input from the major control systems throughout the car. The seven-speed automatic transmission also features a manual mode with blip control to enhance the driver's driving pleasure.
Inside EX37 is an environment designed to appeal to driver and passengers alike. Quality materials provide the warmth and comfort expected in a luxury saloon, yet the driver's quarters have a 'scooped-out' design to emphasise the concept of a cockpit in direct contrast to the open, spacious design of the passenger area.
Uniquely in its class, EX37 eases the loading and unloading of luggage with electric fold down rear seats. Each portion of the split folding backrest can be lowered simply by pulling a lever in the rear of the trunk area.
And even more easily, the backrest can raised electrically by pressing a button on the centre console. Load space is enhanced by a 45-litre underfloor storage compartment. This area is reduced if the Bose premium sound system is specified or the vehicle is equipped with a spare wheel in place of the standard inflation kit.
Standard and optional equipment
EX37 offers a full complement of standard equipment and features the Infiniti I-Key with smart access. As soon as the vehicle identifies a pre-programmed I-Key in the vicinity, the door can be opened and the car started without the key needing to leave a pocket or handbag.
Also standard are privacy glass, a six-disc, seven speaker CD audio system, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, power seats, auto-dimming rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels, six airbags (featuring thorax and pelvis protection) and integrated fog lamps. The leather trimmed steering wheel incorporates controls for the audio system, cruise control and telephone.
Unique to Infiniti is the use of "Scratch Shield" paint. A special highly elastic resin has been combined with a conventional clearcoat to increase the paint's flexibility.
A car painted with "Scratch Shield" paint can exhibit up to five times fewer scratches that a conventional clearcoat when exposed to the same conditions. When exposed to heat, "Scratch Shield" paint repairs fine scratches, restoring painted surfaces close to their original state.
Optional on EX37 are a full leather version (offering leather heated seats, power passenger seat) and a Multimedia pack (with satellite navigation, a rear view parking camera, voice recognition and Bose Premium sound). A unique feature in the full leather version is the extendable jacket hanger integrated into the back of the driver head rest. Also, this version allows personal settings for the driver's seat, steering wheel and exterior mirrors to be programmed into the key so that the key holder won't have to reposition anything if the car has been driven by anyone else.
The Bose sound system is custom-engineered specifically for the EX37 to help reproduce music with clarity and spaciousness. Because it's designed to work together with the EX37's unique cabin acoustics, the Bose system delivers a level of music reproduction that approaches that of a live concert.
Also available are an adaptive front-light system (AFS) and Intelligent Cruise Control operating in "Full Speed Range". In AFS, the xenon headlamps are linked to steering inputs and automatically follow the path of the front wheels to provide a wide spread of light around corners and on winding roads. ICC uses brake, throttle and laser sensors to help maintain a set distance between EX37 and the car in front. The software allows ICC to work from 0km/h thanks to the "Full Speed Range" feature.
But it is the final option that really lifts EX above its rivals. The Around View Monitor uses small cameras mounted at the front, rear and on the sides of EX37 to project an all-round view of potential obstacles on every side of the vehicle. A natural extension of Infiniti's rear view parking camera, the Around View Monitor uses the colour sat nav monitor to display a bird's eye view of the car as it parks, enabling the driver to negotiate a tight parking spot with mishap.
"EX is a refreshing new take on the crossover concept. By blending coupé looks with SUV ability and sports estate practicality, it really does create a totally new breed of car. Add in excellent driving dynamics, superb quality and innovative features and the result is engaging, elegant and exciting," says Nicolas Tschann, Product Manager, Infiniti Europe.