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Five-speed automatic shifter in G35 permits manual-like gear changes.

2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe Road Test
The meaning of G-forcev

By Bill Roebuck

Sept. 14, 2003 -- When I picked up the Infiniti G35 Coupe for a test drive recently, I thought it would be similar to the G35 Sedan I had driven previously, just shy of two doors. But it turned out the Coupe is more comparable to Nissan's exciting 350Z sports car cousin than it is to its sedan sister.
The sedan is a fine car, but the coupe is much more fun to drive, better to look at, and a more interesting vehicle.  It's more interesting because it neatly combines the sports car attributes of the 350Z with the best grand touring characteristics on which Infiniti has built an enduring reputation.

The Coupe, a new model in 2003, is more than a 2+2 version of the Z, and certainly not just a shorter version of the G35 sedan. I'd choose the coupe over either of these alternates. Whether you want it for fun or choose it for necessity, it's a suitable compromise with its comfortable, four-passenger capacity.

While the 350Z, to my eye, is beautifully styled, so is the G35 Coupe. Not coincidentally, they share a few styling cues -- the sleek roofline and the stacked, lean-back headlights, for example. The overall shape is quite similar, though the 350Z looks more lean and fit. Despite the similarity, they share no exterior or interior body panels. However, they do share the same platform and the front and rear track widths are identical. They're both rear-wheel drive, of course.

The powerplant of the coupe also is close to that in the Z. While the sedan gives you an impressive 260 hp, a revised exhaust system that cuts back-pressure, revised engine intake ports and reprogrammed variable valve timing give the coupe an extra 20 hp. That's pretty close to the 287 hp in the Z.
The G35 Coupe is larger than the Z, with a 112-in. wheelbase (compared to 104-in.), which gives more legroom up front. Even the rear seats are comfortable and have decent legroom, though tall passengers in the back seat might get a crick in the neck on longer rides.

The Coupe comes in two basic versions -- a five-speed automatic (Performance and Navi packages are optional), and a six-speed manual that includes all the Performance package items (only Navi is optional). The base price is $45,000 for the A5 automatic, and the M6 manual is $47,000. We tested the M6 version and found it to be a perfect match to the G35's 3.5-litre, 280-hp V6 engine. It included the Navi package, a DVD-based GPS navigation system with a 6.5-in. retractable monitor that lists for an additional $3,400.

The M6 also has a telltale rear wing as well as underside fairings. These practical enhancements achieve zero lift at both the front and rear at speed. They also reduce the coefficient of drag from 0.29 to 0.28. Driving enthusiasts who choose the manual transmission model are easily identified by other drivers because of that exclusive spoiler, so it's a prestigious wing thing.

The Coupe has all the expected luxury features, including ABS brakes,  traction control, Xenon headlights, eight-way power driver's seat, sunroof, automatic climate control, steering wheel controls for cruise and stereo functions, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, and a powerful Bose audio system. Infiniti still includes tape players on all its models, in deference to books-on-tape aficionados.
Not so common features included are an analogue clock (an Infiniti standard), long-life LED taillights, vehicle dynamic control, brake assist, and electronic brake force distribution. The Performance package adds a high-end Brembo braking system. These brakes are a bit touchy till you get used to them, but work superbly.

Safety features include dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for front occupants; side curtain airbags for the front and rear, and a LATCH system for rear child seats.

Big 17-in. tires on alloy, six-spoke wheels put the power to the road, and 18-in. seven-spoke wheels adorn the M6 and the G35 with the Performance package.

The Coupe's ride is right in between that of the Z and the G35 sedan -- not harsh, not soft. It's kind of like the bed that's just right. The seats have aggressive side bolsters to hold you in place in hard cornering, and the driving position seems ideal. The instruments move up and down with the steering wheel, but the wheel doesn't telescope, unfortunately.

An oddity is the seat controls, mounted on the centre console side of each seat. Once you start remembering where they are, it's better than having to feel for the controls between the door and seat base, as in most other vehicles.

The rear seat folds down to extend cargo capacity. The 22-litre (7.8 cu ft) trunk appears just large enough to hold two sets of golf clubs, though we didn't have the opportunity to prove it. There's a label on the inside of the trunk lid to explain how to get them in.

On the road, the tight shifter on the M6 snicks quickly through gears, though it would sometimes want to catch going up into third. The acceleration is fast, the handling is tight, and steering is effortless. The sound signature from the exhaust is compelling, if you don't mind a bit of noise with your ride.

I think you get the idea. The G35 Coupe is accommodating enough for four passengers to enjoy a trip to a weekend getaway, it's equipped well enough to put a little joy in rush-hour commutes, and its sporty attributes make it ready to jump up and perform whenever the need arises.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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