2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Infiniti G35 coupe showed that Nissan's U.S. luxury arm could compete with the likes of Mercedes and BMW. Being mentioned in the same breath as those storied brands is nice, but Infiniti isn't looking to be class competitive; it wants to lead. Ghosn's guys rolled out the new and improved G37 Coupe for the 2008 model year with more power and a vastly improved interior while also delivering an entry price that undercuts the popular 335i coupe by around $4,000.

The 330-hp 3.7L V6 introduced in the G37 Coupe was a big improvement over the also competent 3.5L it replaced, but the carry-over five-speed automatic was holding back Infiniti's jewel of an engine. Nissan has rectified this shortcoming for 2009 with an all-new seven-speed slush box that promises faster shifts and improved refinement and efficiency. We got our hands on a brand new 2009 model to see if it has what it takes to put the G37 at the top of the entry-level luxury food chain. Hit the jump to see how Infiniti's coupe performed during its time in the Autoblog Garage.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.

Our Vibrant Red 2009 G37 Coupe tester tipped the sticker price scales at $44,715. It came equipped with the Journey trip package, a power moonroof, navigation system, 11-speaker Bose stereo system and a Sport package that includes magnesium paddle shifters and 10-spoke, 19-inch rims.

Some have called the exterior design of the 2009 G37 Coupe a step backwards from the previous G35, but this blogger doesn't see it that way. The G35 employed very clean lines with handsome proportions to win over buyers, and the G37 takes that a step further with more animated sheet metal. The wheel arches, belt line, hood and hind quarters are all curvier than they were on the G35, which gives the G37 a softer and sexier profile. Infiniti designers toughened up the front end with a more aggressive lower front air dam and non-functional side vents that accentuate the car's width. The new headlamp design is also a big improvement over the outgoing model, with the odd-looking vertical rectangles being replaced with obtuse triangles that reach back to the front wheel arches.

LEDs brighten up the view from the back and designers once again softened up the hard lines of the outgoing rear tail-lamps. One area that didn't change much was the greenhouse, as the beautiful, flowing lines of the original look good on just about any coupe. Overall, the G37 doesn't look too much different than the G35 it replaced last year, just enough to keep us interested.

Infiniti made lots of changes on the inside, which is also a good thing. The G35 was a bit rough around the edges, with questionable materials and an awkward, Nissan-looking layout. The newer G37 has a beautiful cabin with soft touch materials throughout. The cockpit-like layout is well thought out and requires minimum effort to find the button or switch you're looking for.

One significant drawback to reviewing cars is that it becomes difficult getting used to different nav screens, switches, radios and redundant controls every week. The G37 was this blogger's first Infiniti driven for any significant length of time, yet I was up to speed quicker than most cars that visit my Autoblog Garage. The redundant controls on the steering wheel are hit-you-on-the-head easy to understand and the navigation system presented zero challenges. The radio stations were even preset within a minute's time of initial contact.

Another area of delight are the well-bolstered leather seats. We found them far more comfortable than the BMW 3-Series with extra room for a wide frame. After about two days with the G37, our only complaint concerned the lack of thigh support. Then we noticed the painfully obvious seat extenders; what a cool option. The extender can pull out an extra five inches to provide more thigh support for the long legged among us.

We're fans of the G37's new cabin, but not nearly as much as we enjoyed flogging one of the best mass produced V6 engines of all time. Open up the throttle at any time and instant gratification comes your way. The 330-hp 3.7L VQ engine is responsive at any speed while also providing the kind of aural feedback that makes you want to stab the accelerator whenever possible. Some high horsepower V6 engines run out of steam when pushed too hard. The 3.7L unit hiding under the G37's hood felt more like a V8, with ample power across the entire rev range.

That power is now better transferred with the help of an all-new transmission. The new seven-speed automatic transmission is silky smooth around town, shifting seamlessly at a leisurely pace or quickly when you're in a big fat hurry. And when it's time to get down and dirty, switch it to manual and the paddle shifters reward you with redline acceleration and very respectable shift times. If you're not a big fan of paddle shifters, the ones in the G37 may change your mind. We found them more engaging than most wheel-mounted units with an easy to remember right-is-up, left-is-down setup.

A sublime powertrain means little if the underlying platform can't cut the mustard, so the Infiniti team rolled up its sleeves and improved upon the already respectable FM platform for this generation of the G coupe. The Nissan/Infiniti rear-drive platform already performed admirably in the G35, but the platform was lowered, widened and stiffened by 36% to give it the athletic ability to compete with the best of this breed. It doesn't take long to notice the improvement, either. It would take a far more competent driver than I to achieve significant body roll when diving into a hard turn on city streets.

Some sport coupes with stiff underpinnings reward on the track but punish your rear around town. The G37 doesn't fit that description. It's docile enough when running errands that it won't wear you out, though with this much power and poise at your finger tips, we can't promise that you won't be frustrated.

If it sounds like we like we really like the G37 coupe, you're reading the same review we wrote. It has the power, handling and luxury appointments to compete with pretty much any vehicle in the sport coupe market, which is saying a lot considering the German competition. The G37 coupe also wins points for anyone who wants their car to stand out in a crowd. It doesn't try to look like a Mercedes, BMW or Audi, and we think it's all the better for it. The G37 gives you most of the precision and power of the 335i for the price of a well equipped 328i, while also sparing you iDrive and the smallish seating surfaces. That's enough to make the G37 coupe a winner in our estimation.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.

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