2006 Infiniti G35

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2003 Infiniti G35

This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

A slick new four-seat sports coupe with features of other new Nissan/Infiniti sports models.
Pros:
  • Racy styling
  • Fast
  • Agile
Cons:
  • High cargo opening
  • Tight rear headroom
  • Manual transmission trim costs more than automatic transmission trims

Nissan's upscale Infiniti division surely has a winner with its rakish new four-seat G35 Sport Coupe.

It would be hard for this 2003 coupe to go wrong because it combines features of the hot new Nissan 350Z sports car and the exciting Infiniti G35 Sport Sedan, which arrived last spring as an early 2003 model.

Some Infiniti spokespersons compare the fast, agile G35 coupe directly with the 350Z, saying it's basically a larger version of the long-awaited "Z" with smoother styling and more room and luxury.

But the G35 coupe also can be called a sportier version of luxurious G35 sedan, which is a competitor to Acura, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz sports sedans—pretty heady company.

Keeping Prices Down
Parts sharing among the three models holds down production costs—and thus allows attractive pricing. There probably would be no G35 coupe without the other two Nissan/Infiniti models.

The two-seat 350Z is a pure sports car and is much shorter than the G35 coupe. That coupe is more comfortable than the 350Z, but is a genuine sports car. After all, its chief engineer was heavily involved with various Nissan racing programs.

The G35 coupe gets away with seating four despite its killer good looks because it has a longer wheelbase and longer length than the 350Z—and is about three inches taller. However, the coupe's rear-seat area doesn't have enough head room for 6-footers. The G35 sedan has a much more spacious rear seat.

The G35 coupe and sedan have lots of weight-adding comfort and convenience equipment, but it's surprising that the coupe is 80 pounds heavier than the larger sedan, at 3,416 pounds.

Trim Exterior
The coupe has trim exterior dimensions. It's 4.3 inches shorter than the G35 sedan, but shares a rear-wheel-drive platform and fairly long 112.2-inch wheelbase with the sedan. The rear-drive 350Z has only a 104.3-inch wheelbase.

All three trims share 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic transmissions, along with brakes, suspension architecture and a potent 3.5-liter V6 with various power ratings.

The V6 produces 287 horsepower in the 350Z and 280 horsepower in the G35 coupe. Both offer manual or automatic transmissions. The G35 sedan has a 260-horsepower version of the V6, partly because of a more restrictive exhaust system, and comes only with the automatic. However, it will get an available manual gearbox next spring.

Luxury Emphasized
Infiniti emphasizes luxury with the G35 coupe and says most buyers will want it with an automatic transmission because they will consider the coupe more of a luxury car than a sports car.

That's why the coupe has an interior similar to the one in the posh G35 sedan, right down to the classy looking analog dashboard clock. And that's also why the $32,050 manual-transmission G35 coupe costs more than the automatic transmission trims. Those trims are the $29,100 base coupe and $31,400 version with a leather interior, which also is in the manual transmission trim.

Manual Gearbox Fun
But the G35 coupe is more fun to drive with the manual gearbox, which calls for some muscle to shift but has a delightfully short throw.

Despite the coupe's power, a downshift to third gear is necessary with the manual gearbox for the quickest 65-75 mph passing time. However, that transmission works nicely with the sophisticated engine, which loafs at 2700 rpm at 75 mph.

But there's really no need to do much shifting during most driving because the engine kicks out lots of torque. The G35 coupe hits 60 mph in 6 seconds with the manual transmission, give or take a few tenths of a second.

Fuel economy is decent for such a car. The smooth, dual-overhead-camshaft engine provides mpg figures in the high teens in the city and mid-20s on highways with either manual or automatic transmissions.

Lots of Equipment
The G35 coupe has plenty of standard equipment. That's to be expected with a model from Infiniti, which is getting more aggressive in competing with the Japanese Acura and Lexus luxury vehicle divisions. Standard items include air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD and power windows and locks.

Options include a sunroof, navigation system and upscale sound system. There also are an optional rear spoiler and lower body fairings that make the car a little more aerodynamic.

Safety Items
Upscale cars are becoming heavily equipped with safety features, and the G35 coupe is no exception. It has such safety items as front torso airbags and side curtain airbags for front and rear occupants. There also are anti-lock brakes with a brake assist feature that helps apply the correct pressure in panic stops.

Despite its larger size and extra seats, the G35 coupe has nearly the same superb handling and unerring directional stability of the 350Z, with an all independent suspension and wide stance. The coupe's longer wheelbase actually makes it more stable than the 350Z when pushed hard.

Best Roadability
The best roadability is provided by the manual-transmission trim. It has high-performance Brembo brakes, which usually are on exotic sports cars, and wider tires on large 18-inch alloy wheels. Other coupe models have 17-inch standard wheels and higher-profile tires.

All G35 coupes have a supple ride, but the ride is slightly stiffer with those bigger wheels and lower-profile tires, which are optional for the mid-range "leather" trim.

All G35 coupe trims also have standard anti-skid and traction control systems to help keep owners out of trouble in a car that invites hard driving.

The quick, precise steering isn't too light at highways speeds, as is the case with BMW 3-Series steering. Braking is strong, controlled with a rather soft but easily modulated pedal.

Long, Heavy Doors
Tight parking spots are a problem because long, heavy doors make it difficult—sometimes impossible—to get in and out. However, the large outside door handles are easily gripped. The quiet interior has high quality materials, easily read gauges and very supportive front seats that glide forward electrically to provide access to the rear-seat area.

But cupholders are set too far back on the console and the seatbelts call for body contortions to reach. Power seat controls are awkwardly placed on the console and are especially hard to find in the dark. Dashboard radio controls could be easier to use, and the hood is held open by an old-fashioned prop rod.

High Trunk Opening
While long, the trunk is rather shallow and has a high, awkwardly shaped opening. However, rear seatbacks flip forward to enlarge the cargo area.

Here is another sexy foreign car that has no direct competition from an American automaker. No wonder domestic car producers are losing market share.

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BB02 - 9/22/2014 7:31:58 AM