Infiniti's new G35 sedan boasts all the hallmarks of a true sports sedan: powerful engine, rear-wheel drive, sports suspension, performance tires, excellent brakes, and driver-oriented cockpit.
It's practical, offering more interior space than other cars in the so-called near-luxury class. And it costs less than a BMW 330i.
The Infiniti G35 sedan clearly lives up to its claim as a sports sedan. Its handling is better than the front-drive Acura TL Type-S. It's more powerful than the TL Type-S, BMW 330i, Lexus IS 300, or Mercedes-Benz C320. Infiniti's daring design, with stacked headlamps, catamaran fenders, and short overhangs should make the G35 appealing to drivers who want something different.
The 2003 Infiniti G35 is a totally new model line and includes a four-door sedan and a two-door sport coupe. The sedan was introduced in March 2002, while the coupe is being launched in fall 2002.
All G35s will be equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, four-wheel independent multi-link suspension, Vehicle Dynamic Control anti-skid technology, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS, Brake Assist, and Electronic Brake force Distribution.
Sedans are offered in two trim levels, cloth and leather. The base G35 sedan ($27,100) comes with cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels, and a long list of standard features. The leather model ($28,950) adds leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver's seat, unique 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/55VR17 tires, steering wheel audio controls, and dual-illuminated visor vanity mirrors. The leather model with optional sunroof ($1,000) is expected to be the most popular.
Option packages for the sedan: Premium Package ($2200) includes a Bose premium audio system, dual climate control with rear vents, driver's seat memory, a power passenger's seat, reclining rear seats, automatic headlights, Homelink universal transceiver for opening garage doors and turning on house lights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Sport-Tuned Suspension Package ($425) adds an upgraded sport-tuned suspension, unique five-spoke sport-alloy wheels, 17-inch high-performance tires, and a titanium-trimmed interior center console. Aero Package ($550) includes a rear spoiler and underbody aerodynamic side fairings.
Sport Coupes come as two models, Luxury and Sport. Available equipment includes a dual sliding glass sunroof with one-touch open/close feature, DVD navigation, Bose premium audio. An Aero Package includes a rear wing and rear side diffusers. There's a Brembo Brakes Package, a Premium Package, and a Winter Package with heated front seats and heated outside mirrors.
Standard safety equipment for all G35s includes dual-stage front air bags, side-impact curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, side-impact thorax airbags. Active safety features include antilock brakes (ABS) for maintaining steering control, 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.
Bold, avant-garde styling sets the Infiniti G35 apart and eliminates any chance of taking on that anonymous look of many Japanese cars. The G35's basic design also contributes to its impressive handling.
The G35 rides on Nissan's newest platform, which it will share with the upcoming Nissan 350Z sports car and Infiniti FX45 crossover utility. 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.
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, help improve handling by balancing weight toward the center of the car. These design elements also help the G35 lead the near-luxury class in interior room and trunk volume.
The location of the G35's compact V6 behind the front axle allows the use of a low, aggressive hoodline, 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.
Stacked, vertically oriented xenon headlamps grab your attention. Fog lamps are integrated into the complex headlamp cluster, giving the G35 an aggressive appearance, particularly noticeable in other drivers' rear-view mirrors. The horizontal grille identifies the G35 as an Infiniti.
Raised front fenders inspired by a catamaran (a double-hulled sailboat) extend rearward and look pretty rad from 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 this class. L-shaped taillamps suggest a BMW and use bright LED lighting 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 when competitors would rear-end Nissan's lightweight race cars equipped with carbon brakes; the LEDs would light up more quickly providing the other race drivers with more warning.
Indeed, the G35's overall design was developed from Nissan's experience racing prototype sports cars at 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, 0 degrees of rear lift is achieved. The G35 has an exceptional coefficient of drag measurement of just 0.27 (0.26 with optional rear spoiler) for reduced wind noise and increased fuel economy.
The exterior of the G35 Sport Coupe shares visual elements of the sedan. Both benefit from the same long wheelbase. But the coupe is shorter, wider, and lower than the sedan. Specifically, when compared with the G35 sedan, the coupe is shorter in overall length (182.2 inches versus 186.5), wider (71.5 inches versus 68.9) with its performance-oriented chassis, wider wheel openings and fenders, and it isn't as tall as the sedan (54.9 inches versus 57.9).
Infiniti's G35 features spacious, comfortable accommodations. The sedan offers the roomiest back seat in the near-luxury class. It also offers the largest trunk in this class. The interior is designed around the driver and succeeds in this regard. Luxury features abound, though the G35 seems to lack some of the elegance of the Infiniti I35.
The Infiniti G35 offers substantially more interior space than the Lexus IS 300, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class. The G35'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.
Seats for the driver and passenger are designed differently: The driver's seat uses a center mound shape with high damping urethane foam and a special spring design for support during sporty driving. The front passenger's seat has a flatter lower cushion and is shaped to provide a relaxed posture.
Power seat adjustments, located on the right side of the driver's seat, are a bit awkward, however, and are not as aesthetically pleasing as the metaphoric controls popularized by Mercedes. You may not have to use them often, though, because a memory function is provided that remembers seating adjustments for two drivers.
Rear seats are comfortable for a 5-foot, 10-inch passenger, with plenty of leg, hip, shoulder, and headroom. 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. Rear air conditioning vents keep them comfortable. Buyers can choose between wide bucket-shaped seats or optional rear reclining seats.
The interior is nicely laid out and, for the most part, offers sound ergonomics with ease of operation. Interior materials appear to be of a high quality. The instrument pod moves when adjusting the steering column improving visibility of the gauges for drivers of all heights. 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 HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) settings. The Bose stereo sounds great with crisp bass and highs. Volume automatically adjusts for speed. Lettering on the stereo controls is hard to read, however.
Storage inside the car is limited. Two glove boxes are provided, but both are small, and the optional DVD navigation system takes up the top glove box. A handy storage compartment on top of center dash offers room for wallets and such, but the optional DVD navigation system replaces it 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 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.
The sedan's trunk leads the class with 14.8 cubic feet of storage. Mounting of the large 20-gallon fuel tank under the rear seat (forward of the rear wheels) helps maximize cargo capacity. A large pass-through center armrest accommodates long items.
Once underway, the Infiniti G35 drives like a true sports sedan. Like the BMW 3 Series, the Infiniti G35 features a rear-wheel-drive layout. That makes for sportier handling characteristics than a front-wheel-drive car, such as the Acura TL.
The optional sports suspension includes special shocks and springs and P215/55VR17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A summer tires. It rides nicely with this setup, comfortable but firm. There's a bit of wind noise at 70 mph.
The G35 feels stable at high speeds and motors around fast sweepers without drama. The driver feels well connected to the road, less isolated than in an Acura TL. On winding roads it 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 discover that the chassis can be rotated or steered with the throttle.
The G35 doesn't have the razor sharp response of a BMW 3 Series, and the rear end bobs a bit in fast, sweeping fast turns especially those with undulations. But don't get us wrong: this 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. This makes the G35 quicker and more satisfying to drive than an Acura TL. The Acura TL Type S begins to lose composure when pushed hard on rough roads with sharp corners; asked to steer and propel the car at the same time, the TL's front tires begin to lose grip.
The G35's handling characteristics are designed to be less-fatiguing on the driver, a benefit its developer learned from fielding sports prototypes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in 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, the tires are less sensitive to camber changes and benefit from better sidewall support than that of a wider tire with a smaller diameter.
The G35's V6 engine produces a nice sporty exhaust note. There's lots of low-rpm torque, more than what's available on the Acura TL Type S, 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.
The five-speed automatic transmission is super smooth in normal usage and quite responsive when pressed. It features a manual mode, which can be selected by pushing the shift lever to the right then selects among the five gears. Some drivers find pushing the lever to the outside awkward, but I didn't find it to be a big issue. Select a gear, such as third, and the transmission will still automatically shift down to second when needed, but not up past third or whatever gear is selected; it'll hit the rev limiter if the driver forgets to shift up. This manual mode reduces the tendency for the transmission to uphshift unnecessary on winding, mountainous roads. That can make for more enjoyable driving because it won't shift up to fourth when you lift off the gas as you prepare to brake for the next corner, providing the benefit of some engine braking. Still, it's so responsive in the regular automatic mode, I tend to put it in Drive and leave it there.
Infiniti's 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.
At first glance the G35 sedan seems redundant because Infiniti already has a luxury sports sedan called the I35. Infiniti G35 and I35 cost the same. (The I35, which comes standard with leather upholstery, retails for $28,750, while a G35 equipped with optional leather is priced at $28,950.) They are powered by the same engine (Infiniti's 3.5-liter V6). And they offer similar interior space and similar luxury features. The difference is in emphasis: Infiniti G35 is a sports sedan with luxury trappings. Infiniti I35 is a sophisticated luxury sedan with crisp, sporty handling. Drivers more interested in a comfortable luxury car with crisp handling, a smooth ride, and elegant accommodations may find the Infiniti I35 a better choice.
Drivers who want a genuine sports sedan under $30,000 should take a look at the G35.
|Model Line Overview|
|Model lineup:||G35 ($27,100); G35 w/leather ($28,950)|
|Engines:||3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6|
|Transmissions:||5-speed electronically controlled automatic with manual shift mode|
|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; seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters; LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system|
|Safety equipment (optional):||N/A|
|Basic warranty:||4 years/60,000 miles|
|Specifications As Tested|
|Model tested (MSRP):||Infiniti G35 w/leather ($28,950)|
|Standard equipment:||6-way manual driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, 4-way manual passenger's seat, rear window defroster, outside temperature and compass readouts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 120-watt, 6-speaker audio system with in-disc 6-disc changer and cassette, analog clock; leather model includes leather upholstery, 8-way power driver's seat, unique 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/55VR17 tires, steering wheel audio controls and dual-illuminated visor vanity mirrors|
|Options as tested (MSRP):||Premium Package ($2200) includes dual zone air conditioning w/ rear vents, driver's seat memory, passenger-seat 4-way power, automatic headlights, inside mirror auto-dimming, power windows one touch up/down on all, Bose 7-speaker 200-watt stereo, manual rear-reclining seats, rear adjustable head rests; Sport-Tuned Suspension Package ($425) includes sport-tuned suspension, five-spoke sport wheel, summer tires, titanium interior trim; Navigation Package ($2000); sunroof ($1000); xenon headlights ($550)|
|Gas guzzler tax:||N/A|
|Price as tested (MSRP):||$35,670|
|Layout:||front engine/rear-wheel drive|
|Engine:||3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6|
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm):||260 @ 6000|
|Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm):||260 @ 4800|
|Transmission:||5-speed electronically controlled automatic with manual shift mode|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:||19/24 mpg|
|Track, f/r:||59.1/59.3 in.|
|Turning circle:||36 ft.|
|Head/hip/leg room, f:||40.5/54.3/43.9 in.|
|Head/hip/leg room, m:||N/A|
|Head/hip/leg room, r:||40.0/53.0/36.2 in.|
|Trunk volume:||14.8 cu. ft.|
|Ground clearance:||6.3 in.|
|Curb weight:||3369 lbs.|
|Brakes, f/r:||vented disc/vented disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist|
|Fuel capacity:||20 gal.|
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of January 07, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-877-647-7264 - www.infiniti.com