One of the strong points of the G37 and preceding G35 models, has always been the engine, and that has not changed with this car. As well its sheer potency, it is the noise it makes which appeals to me. Sounding not unlike the Z car with which it shares the same basic powerplant, it roars delightfully when you fire it up. It does quieten down a lot in normal gentle motoring, but press on a bit and as well as coming to life, the sounds increase in a not unpleasant way, too. There is a price to pay and that is at the fuel pump. In the end I drove the G37 a distance of 255 miles and it consumed 14.1 gallons, which computes to just 18 mpg US or a rather disappointing 21.6 mpg Imperial, and it requires the more costly Premium grade fuel. Although I had this car in New York State, it did not spend much time in traffic, and most of those miles were steady speed on the New York and New Jersey Thruway with only a bit of stop/start on the morning I was doing the pictures, so this return has to be declared as poor. With 328 bhp at your disposal, it is probably inevitable that you will want to use the performance, so you just need to budget accordingly for the price at the gas tank! There is a 7 speed automatic transmission, and it is among the very smoothest that you will find making genuinely imperceptible changes between the ratios if you leave it to its own devices. There are paddles on the steering wheel if you do want to make the shifts yourself. Infiniti project the G37 as a sports sedan, and that is a perfectly reasonable claim to make, as driving enjoyment features high on the list of qualities of this car. It starts with the leather wrapped wheel, which is pleasant to hold, and goes on to encompass steering which has just the right amount of weighting and feel such that you can tell exactly where the wheels are going to point in response to your steering input. The test car was a G37x, which means that it had all wheel drive rather than the standard rear wheel drive of the standard G37 models. If I am being honest, for the driving I did, you would not have been able to tell had there not been a badge on the back of the car. There are no clues inside the Infiniti, and on dry and mostly straight roads around the Tri-State area, I got nowhere near to finding any handling limits at all. It was a challenge to find any bends, certainly ones that were not on urban streets. The four wheel drive versions are popular in the North East for obvious reasons given the volume of snow that falls there, and I can well imagine that a powerful and torquey car like this with chunky tyres and just rear wheel drive is probably pretty challenged, just like its BMW rival without the extra drive to the front wheels. The ride proved good, which is just as well, as some of the New York and New Jersey roads are in at least as ill-maintained and rough a state as those in California. Barring the engine noise that emanates when you work the G37 hard, this is a quiet car at cruising speed, with wind and road noise well suppressed. It is not that easy to manoeuvre as the steeply sloping rear window means you cannot readily judge where the back of the car finishes, but the standard reversing camera solves that problem. The door mirrors did a good job at showing was advancing along either side of the car.
Almost lone among the Japanese manufacturers, Infiniti seem to have discovered the art of presenting an appealing interior which looks classy. The G37 is no exception, with plenty of nice leather in use, and some high quality plastics. There are dark satin inserts in the dashboard and some lighter ones on the door casing and elsewhere on the dashboard, along with sparing use of chrome rings and highlights which coupled with the iconic Infiniti analogue clock high in the centre of the dash and the Infiniti logo embossed into the seat backs, all combine to make this an appealing interior. The test car had the optional standard glass sun-roof, so with the cover pushed back, there was lots of extra light so what would otherwise have been a bit dark sombre was actually a pleasant an airy place to be. It is not just the overall ambience that Infiniti have got right, but the details are good, too. This starts with the fact that the instrument cluster moves with the steering column, so there is no danger of suddenly finding that your perfect driving position obscures the instruments. Not only are the twin main dials clearly marked and easy to read, but there is a nice dark blue ring around the inner circumference which lights up when the ignition is on, and in my opinion enhances the visual appeal. Like all Infiniti in the US, there is a remote Start/Stop function, so as along as the key is in range, the G37 is started by pushing the button to the right of the steering wheel. There is a slot for the key low on the left of the dash, but my pocket turned out to be as good a place as any. Stubby column stalks operate the indicators, lights and wipers. The upper centre of the dash is dominated by an integrated 7″ display screen which shows audio unit and climate settings in normal operation, and if you press the “info” button, a number of on board computer and vehicle related data points. When reverse gear is selected, it becomes the place where the image of what is behind the car is shown. I was not particularly impressed by the stray reflections in the windscreen at night from the unit, but in all other respects, it proved particularly easy to use, with a large central rotary knob and some large buttons to either side. This is all mounted under the unit rather than on the console and as such it is probably “better” than the equivalent iDrive or MMI in its German competitors. Under this unit are the main controls for the audio system and the climate control, some of the former of which are repeated on the steering wheel boss. The centre console contains the stubby gearlever and two small rotary knobs for the seat heaters, which I did not find necessary, but a passenger did on one occasion.
It would be a driver of particularly unusual proportions who could not get comfortable in this car. The front seats are electrically adjusted, and the optional Premium pack on the test car meant that there is a 2 set position memory function for the driver’s chair. When the ignition is off, the driver’s seat powers backward to give extra space for easier in- or egress, which proved useful, as I found the space between seat and steering tighter than in some cars, even though I was perfectly comfortable with the seat in position. Whilst many of the G37’s rivals – the German triumvirate of 3 series, C Class and A4 among them – have grown steadily with every evolution such that the once critisised lack of space in the back of some of them is now a complaint of the past, things are still quite tight in the rear of this car. Things are not helped by the sizeable transmission tunnel which means that should you try to put a third passenger in the back, they had better not have legs, as they will need to splay them on either side of this rather tall intrusion, which I suspect would not prove comfortable over even a modest distance. Even with just two adults in there, things are a bit tight, with legroom that will only seem generous if there is a driver like me who sits very far forward, and headroom is not in particularly abundant supply, either. The boot is even more compact, with overall capacity falling well short of that provided by the Infiniti’s rivals. The space available is regular in shape, but the floor is relatively high and the boot does not extend that far back. The rear seats are fixed, though there is a pass-through flap through the rear armrest. Inside the cabin, there is a decent glovebox, a cubby area under the central armrest which is situated well back so a little awkward to reach, and some small door bins. Overall, not that generous for a car that could well have four occupants travelling a decent distance.
For 2013, Infiniti have three models in the G37 Sedan range, the entry level Journey, the all-wheel drive G37x and the top spec G37 Sport. There are also Coupe and Convertible models on offer. Equipment levels for the Journey and the AWD are probably slightly above what you would find in the G37’s rivals. Interior highlights include dual-zone automatic climate control, manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel, trip computer, leather upholstery, aluminium cabin accents, heated 8-way power front seats, a dashboard display screen with rearview camera, keyless entry/engine-start, and a 6 speaker CD/MP3 audio system with satellite radio tuner, USB port, and wireless phone link. Also standard are automatic bi-xenon headlamps, heated power door mirrors, and 17″alloy wheels. The AWD adds a locking centre differential to help maximise traction in slippery conditions. The Sport has a 6 speed manual gearbox, and to help out with its rear driven wheels, a traction-enhancing limited-slip rear differential, larger brakes, a firmer sport suspension, and 18″ wheels with staggered-width performance tyres. It also gets a power sunroof; rear-obstacle detection; power-adjustable steering wheel; 12-way power seats with driver position memory and adjustable thigh and torso cushions; a 10 speaker Bose “Studio on Wheels” stereo; and a voice-activated navigation system with live traffic/weather information and hard-disk digital-file storage. Reflecting its top of the range status, the Sport has no factory-fitted option packages. However, Journey and AWD buyers can get most of the Sport’s standard features by ordering a Premium Package in combination with a Navigation Package and a Sport Package. The last includes specific interior and exterior trim, plus steering wheel shift paddles for the automatic transmission. But typical of this brand, the Navigation and Sport groups require the Premium Package, which bundles the sunroof and obstacle detection with the power steering wheel, driver memory system, and Bose audio. A Performance Tyre and Wheel Package brings in the 18″ rolling stock.
Back in 2009, I concluded that the G37 was really very good indeed. My postulation that it would struggle to find buyers in Europe, thanks to the lack of an available diesel engine, proved to be prescient, and the G37 is a very rare sighting indeed on the European side of the Pond. Given the increases in the price of fuel in America in the past few years, you would have thought that a car that was as thirsty as this one would perhaps have lost some favour there too, but the reality is that the less powerful and more thrifty G25 version had a short life as buyers did not want it. They wanted the G37, and in some number, with just under 60,000 of them finding buyers in the US in 2012. That means it outsold the domestic Cadillac CTS by some margin and the Audi A4 by nearly a 2:1 ratio, with the Lexus IS fareing even worse, notching up just 40% of that sales volume. G37 is Infiniti’s largest seller in the US market, and with good reason. Put simply, it is an excellent car. If you can live with the tight rear seat and relatively small boot, you would be unlikely to find other fault, and history has shown that these cars are reliable and stay that way, which is not something that can be said of the 3 series or C Class. Infiniti premiered a replacement model, with the new name of Q50, earlier in the year, and the burning question is going to be whether it is at least as good, or maybe even better than this G37. For now, though, all you need to know is that if there is any car in the US rental fleets at which you get a second shot at driving, this is probably the best one for that to happen.