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2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe - First Drive Review

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

The first off the Infiniti Performance Line

What's in a name? More specifically, what's in a performance brand's name? BMW has its M cars, Mercedes has AMG, Lexus has F-Sport and Audi has S-Line. Even the Americans have come out to play with the Cadillac supercharged V cars. All of these have one thing in common: each car represents a performance halo version of a base-level sport sedan, coupe or wagon. Plus, building these cars provides the automakers with giant toy boxes full of performance and style accessories, so consumers with less expensive tastes can upgrade their cars, too.

Both the Lexus IS-F and Cadillac CTS-V more than double the horsepower of the cars they're based on, and both performance versions gain significantly upgraded suspensions to boot. The BMW M3 is nothing short of a monster on the road, and the base 328i seems plain and reserved by comparison. In-house tuning companies are born of gearheads' desire for speed, and this is what happens when you let racecar engineers tinker with your daily driver. Not to be left out of the game, Infiniti has created its own high-test car division, the Infiniti Performance Line.

The first car to receive the IPL treatment is the G37 Coupe, a premium sports car targeted squarely at the BMW 3-Series.

On the outside, the IPL G Coupe is currently offered in just two colors: Graphic Shadow gray and Malbec Black. Unique new rear bumpers, side skirts and front fascia with integrated fog lamps give the car added road presence, and the headlights are differentiated from the standard G37 by black casings. The standard 19-inch wheels are also replaced with lighter-weight rims in gunmetal gray, and the exhaust system receives substantial upgrades that make the pipes noticeably larger.

The interior of the car is virtually identical to the standard G37S trim, with heavily bolstered seats (the driver's side is electronically adjustable), red trim on the wheel and aluminum pedals. Again, only two leather colors are offered: graphite black and "Monaco" wine red. The IPL also receives unique "Silk-Obi" brushed aluminum inlays throughout the cabin, adding extra flair to the dash, console and doors. The high-grade materials, abundant soft-touch surfaces and intelligent ergonomics give this car one of the best-feeling interiors in its class, a compliment in the land of Mercedes and Lexus.

The engineers at Infiniti have taken a different approach with the IPL brand, though. Rather than pushing the limits of the G37 to make it ultra-high performance, they've simply refined what the car already does well. The result is a car that equals the power of the mid-range BMW 335i for considerably less money.

That said, the base G37 is already the horsepower leader in its segment. At a standard 330 hp, the G's 3.7-liter V6 engine has more than 100 additional ponies over the base 3-Series, C-Class or Lexus IS. So, rather than completely overhauling the engine, Infiniti has simply tuned what it already has. By updating the engine management software and adding a better-breathing exhaust system later, they were able to boost the IPL G Coupe to 348 horsepower. This puts the IPL G in direct competition with BMW's recently launched 335is, a marginally boosted version of the 335i with M-Sport accessories.

The IPL G isn’t noticeably faster than the G37S, but with a 0-60 mph time somewhere around 5 seconds, it's more than most will ever need. What are noticeable, though, are the suspension and exhaust. The suspension manages to be both sporty and comfortable at the same time. It's competent around sharp turns and smooth on pothole-strewn city roads. Paired with the car's contoured seats, the driver never feels a lack of control or comfort in the car. The downside, though, is the new exhaust system. Infiniti products are typically known for their deep, sexy burbles. The IPL G's exhaust is quieter – almost absent. It's a small detail, but it's one we missed.

Fuel economy in the IPL G Coupe is reasonable for a performance-oriented car. The six-speed manual transmission gets 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on the highway, while the seven-speed automatic gets 19 and 27 respectively.

The real story here is the value, though. The small increase in performance also translates to only a small increase in cost. Since the IPL G is most competitive with the BMW 335is and upcoming 1 M Coupe, Infiniti has priced it aggressively. A comparably-equipped 335is coupe costs nearly $64,000, but the IPL G is loaded for just under $52,000.

The IPL G Coupe is the first of what we expect to be a full line of even sportier products from Infiniti. It may not be as fast as some of the competition, but with a refined drive, exclusive looks and smart pricing, the IPL G is a bargain for anyone shopping in the premium performance coupe market.

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Used 2011 INFINITI G Models x
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Used 2011 INFINITI G Models Convertible
Used 2011 INFINITI G Models
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe - First Drive Review - Autotrader