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Motoring: Infiniti G37S convertible: tempting option

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 16th, 2009

Back in 2003, Infiniti, a premium brand of Nissan's, did something that no one was quite expecting. They took the platform and drivetrain of the Nissan 350Z, modified it to their liking, and then, jimmied it up to a new and incredibly pretty body. The end result was the birth of the G35 coupe.

Thanks to its looks, performance, and attractive price point, the G35 was a huge success. Everyone who wanted a BMW 3-series or a Mercedes-Benz CLK, had to alter their shopping lists to feature Nissan's new baby. As with any successful start however, the hard part came in keeping the momentum going.

In 2008, Infiniti launched a much-anticipated sequel: the G37 coupe. Despite its additional power, improved looks, and bigger gadgets list, the new car lacked the buzz of the original. With this in mind, Infiniti needed, once again, to venture into territory they hadn't visited before; this pursuit came in the form of a convertible.

While the G37 is actually the second convertible in Infiniti's history, it is the first to be presented with a hard-top option, and roof up or down, this car is stunning. Although its first impressions are very good indeed, one of the initial drawbacks you'll notice is its complete lack of luggage room (when the roof is down), due to stowage of the top in the trunk. Nissan tried to compensate for this by installing a hideaway shelf under the floor, but in all honesty, you won't be able to store much more other than a laptop here. So, if you're travelling anywhere far, pack light.

The second downside to Infiniti's new model is the time it takes to lower or raise its roof. While Nissan manufactured this vehicle to have a fully automated system (i.e. all you have to do is hold down a button), somehow it still takes nearly 35 seconds to perform this task. Therefore, doing this at a stoplight is tricky, and has to be timed just right. After all, you cannot operate a convertible roof, while your car is moving, even at a slow speed.

Infiniti G37S

My last complaint regarding this car is, unsurprisingly, something that plagues most chop-tops: chassis rigidity. Twisting and flexing in ways that it just shouldn't, if you're looking for a true driver's car, this convertible easily loses out to its coupe sibling.

However, with the roof down on a sunny day, all such niggles take the backseat (yes, even the tiny ones as equipped on this model) because, despite its flaws, the G37 “convert” is still a lot of fun to drive. In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that it is even more fun, than the coupe. Why you ask?

Because now you can hear the roar of its engine, and, let me tell you, it sounds good. Outfitted with the same 3.7-litre V6, that produces 325hp, as found on the coupe model, this motor (and its quickness in terms of gathering revs) will put a smile on anyone's face. Running from zero-100km/h in about 5.9 seconds, the G37 can reach a top speed of 250 km/h. Hence, it's fast, and although its setup is rear-wheel, Infiniti's excellent traction and stability control system will keep you out of most troubling situations.

One bit of trouble you can opt out of yourself is by picking the right gearbox. You see, the G37 convertible is available with either their new seven-speed automatic, or the six-speed manual. Whatever you do don't buy the manual version — it is horrid!

The clutch weight doesn't match the weight of the gearbox, and as a result, you will find yourself constantly struggling to get a smooth shift. Plus, the heavy flywheel matched to a soft clutch means jerky getaways from traffic lights. It takes a lot of time to get the best out of this gearbox, and even when you do get it right, it still isn't that much fun. So, stick to the automatic, especially since it's a no-cost option. And, considering that this car is more for cruising than attacking racetracks, the automatic is better suited anyway.

With that said, this car is a good cruiser. Unlike its coupe sibling, the convertible G37 comes with softer springs and dampers making its ride much smoother (if it didn't have run-flat tires, it would coast even better). While it may not match the coupe version in terms of its ability to take on twisty bits of road, I have to say, it still handles quite well, especially for a car that weighs 4,095 lbs.

With an extra 450 plus in weight however, as compared with the G37 coupe, its fuel economy is affected. At best, I averaged 14.3-litres/100km (city and highway driving combined) during my week, which although is not bad, is nothing great either.

On top of that, this car doesn't come cheap. With a base price of $57,400, you can expect to add another $3,300 to that price tag, if your interest lies in Nissan's premium package. But, if you look at its competitors, the Infiniti G37 convertible is more affordable, than say a similarly “spec'd” BMW 335i.

While, I don't think this new convertible model is going to recreate the buzz of the original G35 coupe, it is good enough to tempt current Infiniti owners back into the showroom, and in that process, might just win over some new customers too.
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