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2008 Infiniti G37: Refinement Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Your Edge

Seattle is known for rain and coffee, but the city gets its share of beautiful days complemented by a scenic backdrop of mountains, trees, and water. Infiniti picked this town for a media introduction of the latest G37 coupe. We were lucky enough to miss a ten-day rain trend and drove Infiniti’s new G37 coupe through a perfect day of high 70s, clear skies, and dry roads. We reported on the Coupe Concept from the 2006 North American International Auto Show that gave us our first hint of the new generation and the formal production reveal at the 2007 New York Auto Show; now we bring you our first driving impressions.

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The G37 takes the same second-generation FM rear-drive platform of the G35 sedan and that the next-generation Nissan Z and GTR will take. This is a bit backward compared with the first-generation launch schedule, when the boy-racer 350Z launched a couple of months before the G Coupe. The G coupe also introduces a new-generation of VQ engine. Larger displacement, larger bore, and variable valve timing and lift are among key elements for wringing 330HP from a 3.7L DOHC 24v V6 that betters its predecessor’s fuel economy for a 18/24 city/highway rating.
The engine drives the rear wheels through an all-new five speed automatic or a revised six-speed manual transmission. Bringing 30HP more to the table, the new engine moves the G37 along with strength and grace. Despite an industry trend of more gears for automatics, Infiniti stays with five gears. The first three gears have wide ratios for maximum acceleration and response and fourth and fifth are dialed in for overall fuel economy.
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The result is a very nice coupe, particularly the Sport ordered with its $1300 four-wheel active steering system. This is not at all the same as a four-wheel-drive system, which uses engine braking, traction control, ABS, and brakes to ensure traction in inclement weather or inconsistent surfaces. The sedan is offered with optional all-wheel drive, but not the coupe, and the M sedan offers rear-wheel active steering. The coupe’s four-wheel-active steer improves handling, balance, and stability but does not address the issue of torque and which wheel gets more or less at any given point like AWD systems. Does 4WAS, in Infiniti speak, work? Is it worth the cost? After twenty miles of curves, we say yes and yes. The system is subtle and responsive. Diving into corners and twists can be done with a supreme confidence, and with it you could gain speeding tickets quickly.
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4WAS: An Odd Acronym Indicates A Lively Chassis Setup
Ordering 4WAS gets a specific chassis configuration with variable front steering ratios and adjusts bushings and rear suspension geometry based on steering input and vehicle sensors. It is a seamless system that enables the car to respond quicker, faster, and turns it into a point-and-shoot operation. By comparison, the standard setup is heavier and less quick to respond to input. With the basic front-wheel steer and the Sport suspension, the car is a pleasant driver. For straight-line kind of geography or for a less aggressive driving style, skipping the 4WAS leaves you with a comfortable cruiser with an edgy personality and willing spirit. The first-generation G coupe was more refined than its Nissan 350Z cousin, but still a bit rough. This generation is smoother, but responsive and entertaining. Though most of the time, we prefer manual transmissions, the improvements Infiniti made between first and second generation on the manual were for improved NVH, not improved shift feel; this is still not the most rewarding manual to drive.

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The G37 is offered in base, Journey, and Sport MT models. The Sport gets the six-speed manual, the Journey and base the automatic. Though the Sport can’t be ordered with an automatic, the Journey can be ordered with all of the elements that turn a base car into a Sport. The Sport chassis setup is more aggressive, but well sorted out. It is responsive and supple, willing to go the distance when you push its limits without abusing you along less ideal roads.
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Among the negatives was taking the Sport over a section of I5 between Tacoma and Seattle. All day long, the interior noise level had been comfortable. We enjoyed easy conversation and even played with the audio a bit. But the particular road surface on this stretch of highway did not at all agree with the nineteen-inch tires, and conversation nearly devolved into shouting over intrusive road noise.
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Aside from the road noise on I5, the interior of the G was comfortable. The Sport seats are great, with adjustable side bolsters to really hold you in. This generation is more refined than the first. Materials are improved, with the aluminum Washi-inspired trim just like the sedan. But the coupe also offers a new wood trim option for those less enamored with metal surfacing. Along with tighter gaps, the interior fits together better than before. The basic layout is the same as the sedan, with a multi-media screen fixed and always available in the center stack instead of the pop-up solution of the first generation. And Infiniti’s iPod interface is better than any, aside from Ford’s voice-controlled Sync feature, that we’ve seen. It allows access to all of the iPod’s music and playlists and makes it easy to control and read from the radio head, resulting in less distraction on the road. You’re able to see your names for the playlist, instead of scrolling through generic lists trying to remember which is which by song.

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