Infiniti G37 Convertible

6 Aug, 2012 10:00am

Rear-drive drop-top matches Camaro for performance – but is it as desirable?

The Infiniti G37 is a big seller in the US, but it hasn’t made much impact on the sales charts on this side of the Atlantic.

This rarity factor is likely to appeal to buyers wanting something a little different. But the G37 will need more than exclusivity to win this contest. The car in our pictures is from our own Auto Express fleet. Over the past six months it’s given a decent account of itself as a daily driver, but how will it fare under the intense glare of the road test spotlight?

It’s at an immediate disadvantage due to its £45,670 price, while fans of the Camaro’s pumped-up looks won’t be convinced by the G37’s soft curves. Still, its smaller dimensions look more at home on UK roads, while the folding hard-top will be a selling point for some – although it demands compromises.

For starters, the bulbous rear end – where the roof is stored – does little for the car’s looks, and with the top down the boot capacity is reduced from a Camaro-beating 366 litres to a miserable 56 litres. While the roof’s operation is fully automatic, it takes a lengthy 31 seconds. There’s less wind noise with the hood up than in the fabric-topped Chevy, although our Infiniti suffered from a disappointing amount of squeaks and rattles, and headroom is tight in the back.

The rest of the cabin is equally difficult to admire. There’s a tiny hint of retro Maserati inspiration about the central clock, curved dash and wood-effect trim, but mismatched materials, a dated design and some Nissan-sourced switchgear knock the premium aspirations of this car. At least the generous standard kit count goes some way to offsetting the G37’s higher list price.

On the road, the Infiniti’s performance isn’t as far adrift as you might expect. It gives away two cylinders, 196Nm of torque and 83bhp to the Camaro, but was only two tenths down from 0-60mph, with a time of 6.4 seconds, and the G37 recorded slightly faster in-gear times in third and sixth.

Unfortunately, the engine lacks character. Power delivery is fairly flat at low revs and strained as you reach the red line. The slow shift action of the seven-speed auto gearbox also takes the edge off driving enjoyment. But it’s in corners where it really disappoints. The steering is faster than in the Camaro, but body control is dreadful, and with the roof down you can feel the chassis twisting as you turn.

Plus, despite recording better stopping figures than the Camaro, the Infiniti has less progressive brakes, and there’s precious little feel or feedback from any of the controls. Worse still, an unsettled ride means the G37 isn’t a comfortable cruiser, either.

Marginally better residuals and fuel economy win back some points against the Chevrolet, but it’s hard to pinpoint an area where the Infiniti has the edge over the Camaro when it comes to desirability.

Details

Chart position: 2
Why? It’s made in Japan and lacks the rich heritage of the Camaro, but the G37 Cabrio has similar performance, plus boasts a folding metal hard-top.

Key specs

  • Price: £45,670
  • Engine: 3.7-litre V6, 316bhp
  • 0-60mph: 6.4 seconds
  • Test economy: 20.1mpg/4.4mpl
  • CO2: 264g/km
  • Annual road tax: £475
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