Base Price (MSRP) - $27,950
As Tested (MSRP) - $37,290
The Infiniti G35 badge represents a sports sedan and a sport coupe, both based on the stellar rear-wheel-drive Nissan 350Z sports car. And the 2004 Infiniti G35 sedan is available with all-wheel drive.
The rear-wheel-drive G35 sedan was introduced in March 2002, representing an affordable alternative to the BMW 3 Series sedans. It was followed by the G35 coupe, a luxurious and practical version of the Z. The new G35X borrows its , all-wheel-drive setup from the superb Infiniti FX luxury crossover vehicles.
The G35 sedan boasts all the hallmarks of a true sports sedan: powerful engine, rear-wheel drive, sports suspension, performance tires, excellent brakes, balanced weight distribution, and a driver-oriented cockpit. It handles better than most front-drive sedans and it boasts more horsepower than the rear-wheel-drive BMW 330i, Lexus IS 300, and Mercedes-Benz C320.
Infiniti's daring design, with stacked headlamps, catamaran fenders, and short overhangs give the G35 a unique look we find appealing. It's also practical, offering more interior space than other cars in the near-luxury class. Best of all, it costs less than the BMW, Lexus, or Mercedes.
The G35 coupe is essentially a longer, more luxurious GT version of the Nissan 350Z. It's longer than the Z, has a trunk instead of a hatchback, and it has a rear seat that can be used to transport the smaller members of the family.
The 2004 Infiniti G35 is available as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe that seats four. All models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the same engine used in the Nissan 350Z. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode is standard, but a six-speed manual is available on some models.
All G35 models ride on a four-wheel independent multi-link suspension and come with electronic stability control and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS, Brake Assist, and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Safety equipment includes dual-stage front air bags, curtain airbags designed to provide head protection for front and rear passengers, and front-seat side-impact airbags designed to provide thorax protection. A tire-pressure monitoring system has been added as standard equipment for 2004.
The G35 sedan ($27,950) comes with cloth upholstery and a long list of standard features, including automatic climate control, heated power mirrors, and a 120-watt AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo with RDS. 2004 models come with new 17-inch aluminum wheels. The sedan's 3.5-liter V6 is rated 260 horsepower at 6000 rpm, and 260 pounds-feet of torque at 4800 rpm.
The coupe ($29,250) shares all of the sedan's equipment, plus high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon headlamps; six-way power driver's seat; two-way power passenger's seat; a more powerful, 160-watt stereo; wider tires (with the rear tires wider than the fronts); and chromed exhaust tips. The coupe's suspension is stiffer, and its engine is tuned for a little more power, 280 horsepower and 270 pounds-feet of torque.
The sedan with leather upholstery ($30,100) is considered a separate model and also comes with an eight-way power driver's seat, four-way power passenger's seat, heated seats for driver and passenger, steering wheel audio controls, illuminated visor vanity mirrors and HID headlamps.
The coupe with leather ($31,550) is similarly equipped, but uses the same six-way power driver's seat.
A six-speed manual transmission is available for leather models. The six-speed leather sedan ($29,850) comes with nearly all the same equipment as its automatic counterpart, but deletes traction control and adds a sport-tuned suspension, viscous limited-slip differential, and W-rated performance tires in place of the standard V-rated all-season tires.
The six-speed leather coupe ($32,450) also comes with a limited-slip rear and W-rated performance tires, but up-sized to 18 inches; plus heavy-duty Brembo brakes, a double-mass flywheel, and additional titanium interior trim.
The newest member of the G35 family is the G35X all-wheel-drive sedan ($31,900), which is equipped similarly to the automatic sedan with leather. It is not offered with a manual transmission.
Premium Packages for the sedan ($3,050) and coupe ($2,250) add more luxury equipment, including a glass sunroof, premium Bose audio, automatic headlights, a HomeLink transmitter, dual-zone temperature control, and other features. Automatic sedans can be upgraded with the sport-tuned suspension ($425), and automatic coupes with leather can be equipped with 18-inch wheels ($900). Other options include the glass sunroof ($1,000), premium Bose audio ($900), Sirius satellite radio ($400), and DVD-based navigation ($2,000). Not all options are available on all models, however.
Bold, avant-garde styling sets the Infiniti G35 apart; there is no way the coupe or sedan could be accused of sharing the anonymous look of so many other Japanese cars. The G35's basic design contributes to its impressive handling.
The G35 rides on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the Nissan 350Z sports car and Infiniti FX35 and FX45 crossover luxury/utilities. This platform was specifically designed for mounting a V6 longitudinally behind the front axle in the so-called front mid-ship position. (Front-wheel-drive sedans mount their engines sideways, in front of the front axle.) Moving the engine rearward improves the balance of the G35, a key to its excellent handling. And rear-wheel drive is better for high-performance handling than front-wheel drive.
A long wheelbase (112 inches between front and rear wheels) contributes to the G35's stability, especially at high speeds. A wide track (the distance between the left and right wheels) adds to its stability in corners. Short front and rear overhangs, a hallmark of the widely heralded BMW 3 Series, improve handling by balancing weight rearward, toward the center of the car (instead of toward the front). These design elements also help the G35 lead the near-luxury class in interior room and trunk volume. The downside to this design? It costs more to build.
The location of the G35's compact V6 behind the front axle allows for a low, aggressive hood line, which flows into the sharply angled windshield and contributes to the G35's sporty, powerful silhouette. The hood is made of aluminum for reduced weight.
The G35 grabs your attention with its stacked, vertically oriented headlamps. Fog lamps are integrated into the complex headlamp cluster, adding to its aggressive appearance, particularly when it appears in the mirrors of other drivers' cars. The horizontal grille identifies the G35 as an Infiniti.
The raised front fenders were inspired by a catamaran (a double-hulled sailboat), and look great from outside and inside the car. These raised fenders also have a function, managing airflow by reducing spillage off the sides of the hood. The smooth visual line flowing from the front fenders through the side profile cuts off crisply at the rear, expressing a balance between sport and function. The C-pillar and rear fenders accentuate the spaciousness of the cabin, while the large greenhouse provides good visibility from all seating positions.
The short rear deck ends in a crisp crease, concealing the biggest trunk in the class. L-shaped taillamps suggest BMW performance and use a cluster of bright LEDs to pierce the fog and illuminate more quickly when the brake pedal is depressed. The G35's chief developer learned the value of these LEDs in Group C racing: Competitors often rear-ended the lightweight Nissans at LeMans and other endurance sportscar races because they could stop so quickly with their carbon brakes. So the race team switched to LEDs, which provided the drivers behind with more advanced warning.
Indeed, much of the G35's overall design was developed from Nissan's experience racing prototype sports cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There's a strong emphasis on aerodynamics, especially on the control of airflow under the body. The extensive use of diffusers and deflectors helps the G35 achieve 0 degrees of front lift, reducing drag and wind noise at high speeds and contributing to stability. With the optional rear spoiler (part of a $550 Aerodynamic Package), 0 degrees of rear lift is achieved. While front-drive sedans use rear spoilers for decoration, the rear-drive G35 benefits, particularly in a wet, high-speed turn. The G35 sedan has an exceptional coefficient of drag of just 0.27 (0.26 with the rear spoiler, which adds some drag) for reduced wind noise and increased fuel economy.
The exterior of the G35 coupe shares visual elements with the sedan. They share the same wheelbase. But the coupe is shorter overall than the sedan (182.2 inches versus 186.5), wider (71.5 inches versus 69.0), and lower (54.8 inches versus 57.7).
Though they share much in common, the Infiniti G35 coupe differs from the Nissan 350Z in several important ways. The G35's wheelbase is 8 inches longer than the Z's and the G35 is nearly 17 inches longer overall. While the Z is a hatchback, the G35 coupe has a separate trunk. And while the Z has no rear seat, the G35 is a two-plus-two, providing tight accommodations for back-seat passengers.
Well-designed door handles on both the coupe and sedan are easy to grab.
The G35 sedan offers spacious, comfortable accommodations, including the roomiest back seat in the near-luxury class. It also offers the largest trunk in this class. The G35 offers substantially more interior space than the Lexus IS 300, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class. The Infiniti's roomy interior is a benefit of its long wheelbase and wide track. We found good headroom for a 6-foot 3-inch driver even with the optional sunroof, along with ample leg, shoulder and hip room.
The interior is designed around the driver and succeeds in this regard. Luxury features abound. The interior is nicely laid out and, for the most part, offers sound ergonomics with ease of operation. It's a nice-looking interior with high-quality materials.
The instrument pod moves when adjusting the tilt of the steering column, improving visibility of the gauges for drivers of all heights. The steering wheel does not telescope, however, and, at times I was closer to it than I wanted to be after adjusting the distance properly to be able to fully depress the clutch pedal. Instruments are brightly lighted during the day for good legibility. Infiniti's trademark analog clock graces the dash. A thin panel on top of the dash houses digital readouts for compass and climate settings. Nissan's steering wheel is not a thing of beauty, but features nicely designed cruise controls and audio controls, including a power button for the audio that's convenient when you want silence right now.
The audio system is unattractive and looks downscale for this car. Ergonomically, it's a disaster, with buttons scattered around on the unit and on the surrounding silver plastic so you have to look at it and search for the button you want to press. Also, the lettering on the controls is hard to read. At least it's easy to set stations by holding one of the presets down. The optional Bose stereo ($900) sounds great with crisp bass and highs. Volume automatically adjusts for speed. The climate controls are mounted high on the center stack and are easy to use, if lacking in aesthetics.
Seats for the driver and passenger are designed differently: In the driver's seat, a center mound of high-damping urethane foam, backed by a special spring design, provides support for sporty driving. The front passenger's seat has a flatter lower cushion and is shaped to allow a more relaxed posture. The controls for the power driver's seat are located on the right side of the seat and are a bit awkward; and the manual adjustment for rake is on the left. Opt for the sedan's Premium Package, and a two-person memory function means that you won't have to use the controls as often.
The sedan's rear seats are comfortable for a 5-foot 10-inch passenger, with plenty of leg, hip, shoulder and headroom, although knee room is limited when the driver's seat is set all the way back to accommodate a 6-foot 3-inch driver. Hidden front seat rails widen foot room for back-seat passengers. With the Premium Package, rear air conditioning vents help keep them comfortable. The rear seat itself is contoured to resemble two wide bucket seats. With the Premium Package, the sedan's rear seats can be reclined.
Storage inside the car is limited. Two glove boxes are provided, but both are small, and the optional DVD navigation system ($2,000) replaces the top one. A handy storage compartment on the top of the center dash offers room for wallets and such, but the navigation system replaces that one as well, with a clever pop-up display. Center console storage is partly taken up by a power plug, handy for cell phones. Overhead are nice map lights and a sunglasses holder. Three-channel HomeLink (also part of the Premium Package) can be used to open gates, garage doors, and turn on house lights. Visor extensions help keep the sun out of your eyes. Interior door handles are easy to grab and the doors close with a nice thunk. The optional sunroof features one-touch open and close. It's not immediately obvious whether the doors are locked, something we've noticed on some other Nissans.
The sedan's trunk leads the class with 14.8 cubic feet of storage. A large pass-through in the center armrest accommodates long items.
The coupe's interior is similar to the sedan's in most ways. The coupe's front seats feel more like a bucket, more like a racing seat. At times, I had trouble getting comfortable. The coupe may not be the most comfortable car for cross country trips, though it's certainly no worse than a Corvette.
Compared with the Nissan 350Z interior, the G35 coupe is much nicer and trimmed more luxuriously. The door trim, for example, is very nice. It reminds me of the Acura NSX cabin in feel and flavor. Like the G35 sedan, the coupe offers some handy storage cubbies. The cup holder is awkwardly located too far rearward to be useful for commuting with a cappuccino. That's probably fine because the firm suspension would make it hard not to spill any.
Unlike the two-seat 350Z, the G35 is a two-plus-two. The back seat offers much more legroom and feet room than we expected, but there's a distinct lack of headroom and it's snug on the outboard side. It's best for little people. As if someone would really want to spend time back there, the center console offers a tray, a small amount of storage and cup holders. Open the passenger-side door, flip the seatback down, and the passenger seat automatically slides forward on the tracks for easier access to the rear. An additional release lever is located in the middle of the passenger seatback, making it easy for the driver or rear-seat passenger to flip the seatback forward.
While the Z is a hatchback, the G35 coupe has a proper trunk. Though slightly more than half the size of the sedan's trunk, the coupe's shallow cargo space can be expanded by folding the rear seat flat, which forms a flat cargo space even with the level of the trunk. A lip on top of the rear seatback helps keep stuff from flying forward under hard braking. The pass-through is narrow, however, to allow for the rigid chassis structure. Also, the trunk lid opening is small. Still, it works just fine for a big suitcase or something long. We're sure there must be an interior trunk release, but we could not find it.
The Infiniti G35 drives like a true sports sedan. Like the BMW 3 Series, the G35 features a rear-wheel-drive layout. That makes for sportier handling characteristics than in a front-wheel-drive car.
The G35 feels stable at high speeds and around fast sweepers. The driver feels well connected to the road. On winding roads, the G35 rewards the driver with quick, precise steering that offers good feedback. Drive it harder and it responds beautifully. It never surprises the driver with errant behavior. A skilled driver will find that the chassis can be rotated or steered with the throttle. The available sports suspension includes special shocks and springs and P215/55WR17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A summer tires. The G35 rides nicely with this setup, comfortable but firm. There's a bit of wind noise at 70 mph.
Still, the G35 lacks some of the razor-sharp response of a BMW 3 Series, and the rear end bobs a bit in fast, sweeping fast turns, especially turns with pavement undulations. But don't get us wrong: the Infiniti is clearly one of the best sports sedans in the class, with much better handling than any of the front-drive cars. The G35's long wheelbase, low center of gravity, aerodynamic downforce, and lightweight suspension are all designed to keep its tires on the road where they can generate maximum grip.
The G35's handling characteristics are designed to be less-fatiguing on the driver, another lesson Nissan learned in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in FIA Group C racing. Using a large-diameter tire instead of wide tire makes the contact patch longer rather than wider for less noise and improved wet performance. Also, taller tires are less sensitive to camber changes and benefit from better sidewall support than a wider tire with a smaller diameter.
The G35X all-wheel-drive sedan employs a system Infiniti calls ATTESA E-TS, for Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split. That mouthful means that a computer controls an active center differential for smoother starts, better fuel economy, and better traction and maneuverability in snow. Most of the time, the system sends 100 percent of the driving torque to the rear wheels, so the G35X handles like a rear-drive sedan. While accelerating (and hence demanding more grip from the tires), the system sends 25 percent of the torque forward. It can divert up to 50 percent of driving torque to the front wheels if it senses that the rear wheels are slipping. A Snow mode, selected by a button on the console, locks torque distribution at 50/50 front/rear, and reduces the sensitivity of the drive-by-wire throttle. This is the same system Infiniti installs in its all-wheel-drive FX35 and FX45 luxury crossover SUVs.
The G35's V6 produces a unique and sporty sound. There's lots of low-rpm torque, more than what's available from the BMW 330i, Lexus IS 300, and Mercedes C320. This makes the G35 feel very responsive around town. Stand on the gas and it delivers brilliant acceleration performance. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver magazine. Shifting the manual gearbox is direct and precise though it requires a little deliberation. It isn't as light (wimpy?) as an Acura gearbox. But match the revs perfectly and you can shift without depressing the clutch pedal. This is no Solara or Accord coupe. The clutch pedal is relatively firm and takes more effort to depress than the pedal in a Toyota, Honda, or even a Porsche. This makes it more challenging to drive smoothly than those other coupes, harder to drive smoothly than a Porsche Boxster or 911.
Likewise, the coupe is supremely stable and offers great handling. It's precise, like a BMW, firm, but has a nice ride. It feels like a high-performance sports car, not a sports-luxury car. It jiggles on some highway undulations. Overall, it's a great balance. You feel more connected to the road in the G35 than you do in, say, a Corvette. It can be driven precisely at high speeds. It's very stable, perhaps more so than the Z.
A less restrictive exhaust, among other changes, allow the G35 coupe to squeeze 20 more horsepower and 10 more pounds-feet of torque from the same basic engine. We're not sure it sounds as good as the sedan, though. The coupe's engine meets LEV2 emissions standards.
The five-speed automatic transmission in both cars is super-smooth in normal use and quite responsive when pressed. It offers a manual mode, which can be activated by pushing the shift lever to the right, then back to downshift or forward to upshift. Some drivers find pushing the lever to the outside awkward, but I didn't feel it was an issue. If you select third gear, for example, the transmission will still automatically shift down to second when needed, but will not shift up past third; it will hit the rev limiter instead. This manual mode reduces the tendency for the transmission to uphshift unnecessarily on winding, mountainous roads. It won't shift up when you lift off the gas to brake for the next corner, providing some engine braking and making your mountain assault more enjoyable. Still, the transmission is so responsive in the regular automatic mode, we tended to put it in Drive and leave it there.
The G35's active safety features include antilock brakes (ABS) for maintaining steering control in an emergency stopping situation, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) for shorter stopping distances, an electronic stability program (VDC) to keep you on the road, and Brake Assist to maintain full braking force in an emergency stopping situation even if you accidentally relax brake pedal pressure.
The Infiniti G35 sedan is a compelling choice for drivers who want the performance and handling of a true sports sedan. It's one of the quickest, best handling cars in its class. It's also comfortable and practical, with a roomy back seat, a big trunk, and the trappings of a luxury sedan. Drivers who want a genuine sports sedan under $30,000 should take a look at the G35.
The G35X offers the traction and stability of all-wheel drive, a great choice in the Snow Belt, and a good alternative to an Audi A4 quattro.
The Infiniti G35 coupe is a terrific sports car. In fact, it might be too much car for someone who just wants a stylish, luxurious coupe, like the Toyota Solara or Honda Accord Coupe. The G35 coupe is better for someone who wants a real sports car with racecar-sharp response, someone who thinks it'd be neat to take it out on a track, even if he or she never actually does that. Yet the G35 coupe is more luxurious, roomier and more practical than the Nissan 350Z, with the big advantage of back seats.
|Model Line Overview|
|Base Price (MSRP)||$27,950|
|As Tested (MSRP)||$37,290|
|Model lineup:||Infiniti G35 sedan automatic ($27,950); coupe auto ($29,250); sedan 6-speed w/leather ($29,850); sedan auto w/leather ($30,100); AWD sedan auto w/leather ($31,900); coupe auto w/leather ($31,550); coupe 6-speed w/leather ($32,450)|
|Engines:||3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6|
|Safety equipment (Standard):||dual-stage front air bags; front side-impact air bags; roof-mounted side-impact curtain air bags for front- and rear-seat occupant head protection; active head restraints; seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters; LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system; traction and stability control; tire-pressure monitor|
|Safety equipment (Optional):||none|
|Basic warranty:||4 years/60,000 miles|
|Assembled in:||Tochigi, Japan|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSRP):||Infiniti G35 coupe 6-speed w/leather ($32,450)|
|Standard equipment:||6-way power driver's seat with 4-way adjustable lumbar support, 2-way power passenger's seat, electric seat heaters, rear window defroster, outside temperature and compass readouts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 160-watt, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/cassette audio system with in-dash 6-disc changer, dual-illuminated visor vanity mirrors, analog clock, leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon HID headlights|
|Options as tested:||Premium Package ($2,250) includes power glass sunroof, dual zone air conditioning w/ rear vents, automatic headlights, auto-dimming inside mirror, Bose 225-watt, 8-speaker stereo; DVD–based navigation ($2,000)|
|Gas Guzzler Tax:||N/A|
|Engine (Optional):||260-hp 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 (sedan); 280-hp 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 (coupe)|
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm):||280 @ 6200|
|Torque(lb.-ft. @ rpm):||270 @ 4800|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||20/27 mpg|
|Transmission (Optional):||5-speed automatic with manual shift mode; 6-speed manual|
|Track, f/r:||60.4/60.6 in.|
|Turning circle:||37.4 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||39.2/53.6/43.8 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||34.7/48.0/31.4 in.|
|Suspension F:||independent, two lower links and one upper link per side, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|Suspension R:||independent, multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
Copyright © 1994-2009 New Car Test Drive, Inc.
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