2009 Infiniti G37x Coupe AWDPosted on July 1st, 2009
Infiniti upgrades the G with a seven-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive
By Nina Russin
Last year, Infiniti introduced a new G sport coupe, with a more powerful engine and enhanced steering technology. The 2009 G37 comes with a seven-speed automatic transmission that replaces last year’s six-speed box. The new transmission yields better fuel economy, and has downshift rev matching for enhanced performance. Available all-wheel drive improves the coupe’s performance on wet roads.
This week, I drove the 2009 all-wheel drive model in and around Phoenix, Arizona. While I wasn’t able to evaluate the G37’s wet weather performance, I tested Infiniti’s active steer and electronic torque distribution systems on some two-lane roads outside of town.
As with its predecessor, the G is a front mid-ship platform, optimizing its front-to-rear weight balance. The coupe sits lower and has a wider track than the model it replaced, for better high-speed handling and improved steering response. Standard 18-inch alloy wheels give the G a generous footprint. All models come with four-wheel vented disc brakes and standard four-channel antilock braking.
Infiniti engineers used the automaker’s extensive formula racing experience to enhance the coupe’s aerodynamics and high-speed performance. The current model is 36 percent stiffer than the old G, translating to better steering feedback.
Two is enough
A quick look inside the G37 makes it clear that the coupe is first and foremost, a driver’s car. While the front passenger will be quite comfortable, back-seat passengers will not. Even with the front seats pushed forward, there is very little legroom, and even less headroom in back. Because there are no air vents behind the center console, the cramped rear cabin is stuffy as well.
On the other hand, the driver couldn’t ask for better surroundings. Two-position memory allows multiple drivers to share the car. Bolstered seats hold the driver and front passenger in place while providing ample lower lumbar support. Steering wheel-mounted audio, Bluetooth and cruise control functions minimize driver distraction.
Infiniti’s three-spoke steering wheel is the perfect size: it’s slightly smaller than the average steering wheel, making it more ergonomic for women drivers. Visibility is excellent all the way around the car. A rear-view camera- part of the optional navigation package- provides a wide-angle view to the back. Lines superimposed over the image guide the driver into a parking space.
A sport coupe for all seasons
The heart of the G is its 330-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine. Paired with the new seven-speed automatic transmission, the engine combines powerful acceleration with enhanced fuel economy during steady-state cruising. All-wheel drive makes the test car slightly less fuel-efficient than its rear-wheel drive sibling. Still, I was able to average about 30 mpg while driving at speeds of about 75 miles-per-hour.
Accelerating off the line, the G can easily hold its own against competition from Europe. The all-wheel drive system maintains a rear-wheel bias on dry pavement, and can transfer up to 50 percent of the car’s power to the front axle to enhance traction in rain and snow. A snow button on the center console starts the car in a higher gear to prevent the wheels from spinning on slick surfaces.
The active steer system adjusts the steering ratio and rear suspension according to the driving situation. Without getting overly technical, the effect is to make all four wheels feel glued to the road. This is especially noticeable when doing emergency evasive maneuvers, or making a sudden lane change.
No matter how suddenly the driver turns, it’s almost impossible to upset the chassis. Anybody who’s tried to maintain a car’s directional control while swerving off and back onto the shoulder of a road can appreciate the safety benefits.
In addition to enhancing fuel economy, the seven-speed transmission virtually eliminates hard downshifts during normal driving. A manual shift option enhances performance at the track or on challenging roads. Infiniti uses the same rev matching feature found in the new Nissan Z cars: it blips the throttle to smooth out downshifts.
The test car is equipped with a premium package that includes a power moonroof, audio upgrade with iPod and Bluetooth interface, power lumbar control, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel ($3000). A navigation package adds the hard-drive navigation system with real-time traffic alerts and XM radio.
The navigation maps are easy to read: with buttons to the side of the mouse control that zoom in and out. The driver can program the system to indicate upcoming points of interest, such as restaurants and gas stations, as well as traffic congestion indicators.
The navigation screen on the top of the center stack also serves as an information center. Selections include real-time and average fuel economy, traffic updates, GPS satellite information, maintenance alerts or a “Where am I?” feature. A second digital display in the gauge cluster adds distance to empty, ambient temperature, odometer, trip meter and the automatic transmission shift indicator.
Storage areas in the passenger compartment should serve the average driver adequately, but aren’t ideal for active lifestyles. Cupholders in the front and rear center consoles are on the small side. The doors have map pockets but not bottle holders. There are two 12-volt power points up front to recharge electronic devices: inside the center console bin, and the cigarette lighter on the base of the center stack.
The locking glovebox is average size: big enough for the car documents and a wallet. An overhead bin holds the garage door opener and sunglasses. Dual overhead reading lamps illuminate the front of the car at night.
Access and egress to the rear seats is poor. My six-foot tall husband was able to squeeze in back, but it wasn’t comfortable. The trunk is average size: big enough for a weekend’s worth of luggage or a couple of golf bags. There is a standard first aid kit in the trunk.
Base price for the G37x is $38,700, not including a $865 destination charge. The G37 coupe is on display at Nissan dealerships nationwide.
Likes: Exceptional ride and handling, thanks to Infiniti’s active steer system. The 3.7-liter V-6 engine, paired up with the seven-speed automatic transmission combines power with above-average highway fuel economy. All-wheel drive enhances the coupe’s performance in rain and snow.
Dislikes: Poor access and egress to the rear seat. Lack of head and legroom in back.
Model: G37x Coupe AWD
Base price: $38,700
As tested: $47,346*
Horsepower: 330 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 270 lbs.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: Standard
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 18/25 mpg city/highway
Comments: Price as tested reflects a $815 destination charge, as opposed to the current charge of $865. The manufacturer recommends premium fuel for the high-compression V-6 engine.
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