Strengths and weaknesses:
- value for dollar
- technological content
- smallish rear seat space
Infiniti pumps up the Gs
NAPA, CA—Infiniti has put more “gee” into G Coupe, with the first offering of the new Infiniti Performance Line.
The twisty, often lightly-travelled backroads of northern California are a perfect place (short of Infineon Raceway, in the middle of all those roads) to show off the 2011 IPL G Coupe. It’s a G with plenty of whiz.
Built on the rear-wheel drive G Coupe, the IPL version has a unique exterior boasting an aggressive front fascia with integrated fog lights, sidsculpted e sill extensions, rear spoiler and big round exhaust tips. Wheels are gunmetal gray split seven-spoke 19-inch alloys.
You get a choice of two colours: Graphite Shadow and Malbec Black. The “warm” new black has a red metallic flake imbedded in the paint – a nice touch indeed.
On the inside, you settle into eight-way power red-stitched leather sport seats with manual thigh extension and driver-side power torso and thigh support adjusters. The front seats move forward at the touch of a button to allow rear seat access. It’s a bit awkward, but leg room isn’t bad for the average-sized person.
Dash trim is aluminum – no wood available.
Other standards include voice recognition for audio navigation, driver’s seat memory, rearview monitor, rear sonar and a sliding glass moonroof. For the ears, there’s an 11-speaker Infiniti Bose Studio on Wheels sound system with 9.3 GB hard drive. Navigation is also standard.
In fact there are no options - only the choice of manual or automatic transmission.
Directional changes are handled through a leather-covered steering wheel with audio and cruise controls. If you opt to let electronics do the shift work, the steering wheel gets magnesium paddle shifters.
Engineers have massaged the G37’s 3.7-litre V6 engine to produce a robust 348 horses whipped up by 276 lb. ft. of torque – and they’ve done it without resorting to expensive hardware.
The key is breathing. The high-flow exhaust is a full dual exhaust design with independent large-diameter pipes. Mufflers are designed to produce a satisfying snarl while reducing pressure – 30% less than that in the standard G Coupe.
Coupled with engine management changes, the V6 carries 18 horses more than the non IPL coupe.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but step on the gas and it’s evident those 18 additional horses are thoroughbreds.
It doesn’t take long to get used to the smooth-shifting manual transmission which has a relatively light clutch. The seven-speed automatic works its way through its shift points with near seamless precision. Pick either gearbox and you’re still having a ball with this car.
Suspension boffins came up with tuning and damping setups that keep the driver connected with the road without transmitting harsh vibrations. Front spring rates are considerably higher than on the base G Coupe and shock absorbers have been give a sport tuning.
The ride is smooth and well modulated. Wind noise is minimal but the Bridgestone Potenza tires make themselves heard.
Corners – and there are a lot of them here – make a veritable playground. The car stays glued to the pavement even when pushed to my personal limit (the car’s limit is farther out there).
If things get going too quickly, the sport brakes (14-inch front and 13.8-inch rear discs) bring things to a halt in a hurry. Those binders are nearly as impressive as the go-fast upgrades.
The IPL G-Coupe goes on sale in March 2011 and pricing has not yet been set. Infiniti officials say the upgrade “will not be a huge price walk as it is with other companies.”
They also say the coupe is the first of a new level of premium performance vehicles that will bring a new level of sportiness to the Infiniti line-up.