Short Take Road Test: 2008 Infiniti G35xS
By Tony Swan of Car and Driver
It's no secret we tend to prefer cars with manual transmissions, and that we think less mass is invariably mo' bettah. Still, when your luxury sports sedan is also your daily driver, there are times — slithering through wintry slush up the corkscrew ramp from the Lincoln Tunnel, for example — when all-wheel drive and a smooth automatic look pretty damn appealing.
The "x" here denotes all-wheel drive, which invariably adds bulk. Our test car weighed 3856 pounds, which is at least 230 pounds more than any G35 Sport (the only G35 manual) tested recently, and much of that added mass is up front, for a weight bias — 55.8 percent front/44.2 percent rear — that's almost three percent heftier at the nose than that of the rear-drive car.
But none of this matters much in the real world. The G35xS scooted to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, about the same as G35 Sports we've tested recently. Similarly, the G35xS gets a lower EPA highway score (23 mpg) than the other G-cars, but our results, particularly in cars with a sporty persona, are usually well below federal forecasts. We averaged 17 mpg with the G35xS, better than the 14 mpg delivered by one of the Sport models.
Speaking of sporty, the "S" appended to the model designation tells you this car had the optional ($1100) Sport package, which includes deep-bolstered front bucket seats, 18-inch alloy wheels wearing Dunlop SP Sport Maxx M+S tires, and magnesium paddle shifters. Suspension tuning is unchanged, but the G35 is agile as is, and the big shift paddles — fixed position, rather than rotating with the steering wheel — are easy to use in hard cornering. The five-speed transmission is smooth in auto mode and holds shifts on the redline if the driver so chooses.
All in all, it's a satisfying sedan, with just a couple caveats. For one, the automatics offered with comparable AWD sedans — Audi A4 3.2 Quattro, BMW 335xi, Mercedes C-class Sport 4MATIC — have extra forward speeds. More important, at $35,065, the basic G35x holds a nice price advantage versus the Audi and the BMW. But the $40,615 as-tested price of this car is a harder sell.