Review and road test of the Infiniti G37 Saloon (2009 - 2013)
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
By Andy Enright
On the face of it, launching a luxury car line powered by 3.7-litre petrol engines just when a global financial crisis was kicking into full gear was never going to spell success. Inifiniti found itself decisively overtaken by events and, in this country at least, the marque has never really recovered from this external course of events. The G37, available as a saloon, coupe or convertible, has sold in tiny numbers as a result. It is, by most accepted definitions, a monumental flop. Behind the story of that failure, however, is a car that will actually make a great deal of sense as a used buy to a few people. Here's how to track down a genuine bargain when it comes to the four-door variant.
4dr saloon (3.7 petrol [S, GT, x S, S Premium, GT Premium])
Our parochial view in the UK is that the Infiniti brand was magicked out of nothing by Nissan just in time to get savaged by the financial meltdown of 2008/09, but the bigger picture is one of a long track record of success. The G series, of which the G37 is but a modern take, has been sold in Japan since 1990, with the G37 that we received being the fourth generation of this line. Work began on this series four 'V36' car back in 2002, and it was launched in 2007 in Japan, being badged a Nissan Skyline. We got the car in summer 2009 in three guises; four-door saloon, two-door coupe and two-door convertible. It's the saloon we look at here.
Sales were slow, not helped by the fact that Nissan wasn't interested in selling Infiniti models from existing Nissan showrooms, which meant a dealer network had to be built. With many customers finding credit hard to get and fuel prices skyrocketing, the idea of a 3.7-litre petrol car costing around £30,000 with no badge equity to rely on come resale time was one that never proved appealing. The G37 line soldiered on, with the addition of the all-wheel drive G37x S sports version in 2012, coinciding with a mild facelift for G Series cars.
What You Get
The saloon model features sleek, if somewhat generic, styling but it's the interior that's the big draw. Where you do want to be reminded of how much money you spent is inside. Sure enough, pull one of the lovely satin finish door handles and you'll enter a cabin that's beautifully built and looks very classy with touches like its oval analogue clock, though the use of some Nissan switchgear and a proliferation of buttons are amongst the reasons why its aesthetics are still a notch down from the priciest offerings in this sector. You can access many of the functions through standard-fit switches on a steering wheel that moves with the instruments, combining with the multi-adjustable leather seats to help you get really comfortable. At the back, the seats recline slightly for added comfort on longer trips and legroom is acceptable for this class of car, though it would help if it was easier to slide your feet under the seats in front. The 450-litre boot isn't one of the largest in the class but it's significantly bigger than you'd get on a BMW 3 Series.
Standard kit includes Bi-Xenon cornering headlights, speed-sensitive power steering, electric front seats, parking sensors, a six-CD stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and 18" alloy wheels. Infiniti's much-praised information and entertainment platform, Connectiviti, is also available in this car. Safety features include stability control, six airbags and the option of an Intelligent Brake Assist system that first warns the driver, then brakes the car if it thinks a collision is imminent.
What to Look For
The Inifiniti G37 has proven to be an extremely reliable proposition thus far. It's consistently ranked at or near the top in its class for reliability and few issues have surfaced. Check for tyre wear, especially on the rear-wheel drive versions and also inspect the paint finish as the front can be vulnerable to stone chipping. Otherwise just make sure that it's got a fully-stamped up service record and that it's been looked after.
(approx based on a 2010 Infiniti G37 Coupe) Replacement parts are priced below what you'd pay for the big German brands. You'll need £160 for a refurbed alternator, £280 for a front nose finisher, £12 for a spark plug, £70 for a set of EBC front brake pads and £45 for the equivalent rear items.
On the Road
This car launched in the UK with the 3.7-litre petrol V6 engine that we're looking at here, a slightly lower powered version of the unit that's used to intoxicating effect by Nissan's 370Z sports car. It develops 316bhp here, enough to get the car from standstill to 60mph in 5.8s.That's pace on a par with a BMW 335i and faster than the Mercedes C350. On the road, it's closer in feel to the Mercedes, luxury-orientated in other words, matching the C-Class for grip and steering feel, if not for ride quality, and offering up a lovely growl under hard acceleration that no German rival can match.
The standard G37 models are rear-wheel drive but there is an intelligent all-wheel-drive option which can put anything from 50% of the drive through to the front wheels and up to 100% though to the rears depending on the conditions. A further intriguing possibility is the 4-Wheel Active Steer technology which comes with the sporty S variants. This is a system by which the rear wheels turn to assist those at the front when steering inputs are made. They work to enhance low speed manoeuvrability while also increasing composure at high speeds. Two gearboxes are available, a six-speed manual as standard or an optional seven-speed automatic.
The sportiest choice is the G37x S. It marked the first time Infiniti's S grade was offered with all-wheel drive. Like all G models, the G37x S got the 316bhp 3.7-litre V6 mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifts. A nice touch is instead of the cheap plastic paddle shifters you find in many so-called premium cars, the shifters in the G37 are fashioned from cool magnesium. It's just one more example of Infiniti's demonic attention to detail.
It's so often the case that a car that is a failure when new can often translate into a great used buy. The Inifiniti G37 could be the case study for just this effect. The saloon version we look at here struggled when put up against the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-Class when new, hobbled by economic conditions beyond its control. Yet as a used buy, it has lots going for it. Firstly there's the reliability, which counts for a lot when buying a complex executive vehicle that may have just sailed out of warranty. Then there's the fact that the lack of badge equity means that depreciation has taken its toll. Couple that with the fact that the G37 is really well equipped and you're buying a huge amount of car for your money. Yes, you'll still have to cope with 25mpg real world economy and the fact that you'll have to explain to everyone why you bought a used G37 over a 3 Series, but console yourself with the fact that you're the one in the know here.
Infiniti G37 Saloon (2009 - 2013) review by Andy Enright