Pros: Brilliant handling; smooth, powerful V6; great balance of performance and luxury

Cons: Tiny rear seat; somewhat firm ride; more horsepower needed on the IPL version to let it compete with BMW M cars

Look around the automotive landscape these days, and you'll notice a lot of luxury brands are illogically declaring that their four-door performance sedans are now "coupes." Mercedes does it with the CLS, Volkswagen with the CC and BMW with its recently revealed 6 Series Gran Coupe. They do this because the traditional sedan silhouette has been replaced by a shapelier curve befitting a racy coupe. But we cry foul.

A coupe in the true sense has two doors and, some purists would argue, two seats. For our part, we'll settle on two doors, a small back seat, a big engine and great handling. Better yet, we'll just point to the 2012 Infiniti G37 coupe and convertible. Be it the luxurious Journey, the year-round all-wheel-drive x or the high-performance IPL-all but the IPL also available in convertible form-there is a G37 to suit just about any taste.

The G37 coupe is as impractical as it is perfect. It basically has room for only two people and its trunk is demure and, in convertible form, practically nonexistent with the retractable hard top folded down. The car sits low, making it somewhat difficult to climb into and out of, and it carries a pretty high price for offering so little convenience. But those looking at a coupe usually aren't looking for convenience, they are looking for excitement and passion and something that turns everyone's head in their direction. Those are skills that the G37 coupe and convertible have perfected.

Comfort & Utility

Front-seat passengers will find the G37 coupe fairly comfortable, but headroom is not as abundant as legroom. The convertible gets a pass from this criticism, but only in nice weather. As for the G37's back seat, let's just say it's little more than a pretty parcel shelf in the coupe, and in the convertible it's more like an afterthought.

It's a bit of a drop into the G37's seats, not nearly as difficult as in a Mazda Miata or a Chevrolet Corvette, but agility and youth are probably going to be helpful. Once you're seated, the G37's seats wrap their leather-bound bolsters around you like a lover's warm embrace. On the Sport model, the driver's seat features power adjustable side and thigh bolsters and a manual thigh support extension. The same seats are also included on the high-performance IPL. Only they can be had in red leather. Slick!

The convertible mirrors the coupe in most aspects, save for its retractable hard top that stows away beneath a body-color panel in seconds. The convertible also has an adaptive audio system that compensates for wind and road noise generated by having the top lowered.

The G37's performance credentials don't overshadow its luxury side; Infiniti calls on its best equipment. Standard on the Journey are Infiniti's keyless entry and start system, leather seating, heated front seats, seven-inch color LCD monitor and six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, USB/iPod port, dual zone automatic temperature control and a rear-view monitor. The Sport adds a six-speed manual transmission, 19-inch wheels with performance tires, sport suspension, brakes and steering, a power glass moonroof, voice-activated navigation, an 11-speaker Bose Studio on Wheels sound system and a rear sonar backup warning system.

Available options include the Premium package, which adds, among other items, a power moonroof, Bose audio, a power tilting and telescoping steering wheel and two-way power lumbar support for the driver's seat. The Navigation package includes a voice-activated navigation system with available XM traffic and weather updates, while the Sport package adds 19-inch wheels with W-rated summer performance tires, a limited-slip rear differential and upgraded brakes, and a 12-way power driver's seat. There is also a Technology package; see below.

Technology

The bulk of the G37's technology can be found in the aptly named Technology package. Topping the list of offerings is Intelligent Cruise Control, which helps maintain a safe distance between you and the traffic ahead, Brake Assist with preview braking, rain-sensing wipers and an Advanced Climate Control system that purifies air entering the cabin.

Infiniti's hard-drive-based navigation system can be equipped with XM NavTraffic and NavWeather and offers voice recognition for navigation, audio and vehicle information.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The G37 uses a potent yet efficient 3.7-liter V6 engine. In base, Journey and x models, this engine makes 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The same engine in the G37 IPL is tuned to produce 348 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy with the standard 3.7-liter is 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway (18/25 mpg with AWD and 17/25 mpg with the manual transmission). Fuel economy for the Convertible is rated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway (16/24 mpg for the AWD), while the IPL is rated at 19/27 mpg with manual transmission and 17/25 mpg with the automatic.

Base, Journey and x models all have a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching. The Sport trim has a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The IPL can be equipped with either transmission.

The AWD models use Infiniti's Intelligent AWD system. It has a rear bias until the system senses the rear wheels slip; then power is routed to the front and rear equally until traction is regained.

Safety

The 2012 Infiniti G37 coupe features front, front side impact and side curtain airbags as well as electronic traction and stability control, four-wheel ABS and a tire pressure monitoring system. The convertible has the same features, only its side curtain airbags are mounted in the doors, and it includes a set of pop-up rollover bars behind the rear seats that activate in the event of a rollover situation.

Driving Impressions

You won't have to twist any of our test drivers' arms to get them to admit the G37 coupe is one of our favorite performance cars. Even in luxury Journey trim, the G35 is a marvelous machine. The suspension is firmer than in the G37 sedan, but as long as the road stays smooth, the ride does, too.

Move up to the G37 Sport, and you'll get exhilarating acceleration with razor-sharp handling. The G37 lives for the curve, exhibiting excellent stability and tenacious grip. AWD makes a great car greater, but the six-speed manual transmission and sport suspension on the Sport model win us over every time.

Those seeking Infiniti's version of the ultimate driving machine owe themselves a test drive in the G37 IPL. Although it's not significantly more powerful than the Sport, its suspension, brakes, steering and throttle response have been tweaked to peak performance.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible - The 3 Series coupe and convertible have another year before they get the all-new look and engines of the 3 Series sedan, but they are still enviable and every bit as focused as the G37.

Cadillac CTS Coupe - The CTS delivers excellent performance, but with a bit smoother ride, a much bigger back seat and trunk and a look that is proudly American.

Lexus IS Convertible - The IS 350C offers a bit more legroom up front than the G37, but its engine is not as powerful and its handling not as sharp.

AutoTrader Recommends

Our convertible choice is the G37 Journey with Premium, Technology and Navigation packages. For the coupe, we'd go with the G37x AWD. It delivers great year-round performance, which is especially important to those who live in snowy climes.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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