Infiniti G35 S
The Infiniti's brilliantly built, has a high quality cabin and is good fun to drive
There’s much to like about the Infiniti G35. It’s brilliantly built, has a very high-quality cabin and is good fun to drive. Compared with German rivals, it should also be competitively priced when it arrives in 2008. With only one petrol engine, it may struggle in a market dominated by performance diesels, but the G35 offers a fine sporting saloon package, and deserves success.
The countdown has begun! In a little over a year, there will be a new, exciting brand name in the UK – Infiniti. As the luxury arm of Nissan, it’s similar to the Toyota-owned Lexus marque, and is promising a mixture of advanced technology, sleek styling and outstanding equipment.
The Infiniti badge is already well est-ablished in the American market, where the line-up comprises small and large 4x4s, as well as a range of saloons to rival the Mercedes S-Class. One of the first models to come to these shores will be the all-new G35, which recently went on sale in the US and Japan.
With a flowing shape, wide chrome grille and smoothly integrated lights, the G35 is a handsome car – although it lacks the personality of its European rivals and owes quite a bit to Lexus’s GS, particularly in profile.
But climb inside and things are far more impressive. Material and trim quality are excellent, while the dashboard is ergonomically and visually sound. It features a centrally mounted bird’s-eye view satellite navigation system, as well as a neat analogue clock plus a clear speedometer and rev counter.
There’s decent space in the rear, too, even if fitting five tall adults would be a squeeze. The driving position is highly adjustable, with excellent visibility.
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Go for a quick spin in the Infiniti and you’ll soon realise where most of the budget has gone. Engineers have taken the previous G35’s rear-wheel-drive chassis and made it 40 per cent stiffer, while under the bonnet the 3.5-litre V6 – which also appears in Nissan’s 350Z – is almost completely new.
The unit now features variable valve timing, a higher compression ratio and a new air-intake system, allowing it to rev higher and generate more power. It sounds better and uses less fuel, too.
Delivering 310bhp and 485Nm of torque, the G35 is genuinely quick. It covers 0-60mph in 5.2 seconds, and feels much faster than BMW’s 330i, for example. The engine is linked to a slick six-speed manual box or a clever five-ratio automatic with paddleshifters.
The chassis provides excellent cornering grip, with fine balance and poise, backed by brilliant brakes. However, our S variant had even stiffer suspension settings than the standard model, and suffered from a harsh ride.
Factor in steering that lacks feel, and the BMW 3-Series is still dynamically superior. But that’s not to say the G35 isn’t fun – it’s a genuinely pleasing car to drive. It’s also packed with technology, with four-wheel active steering available on top-specification models.
Similar to BMW’s Active Steering set-up, the system features a variable rack, which adjusts the amount of steering required. It’s designed to improve the vehicle’s handling and stability, too. However, we think it still needs work, as its responses feel unnatural compared with the standard G35’s set-up.
Nevertheless, at about £30,000 for the model driven here, the Infiniti represents remarkably good value. And while it’s not as good as BMW’s 3-Series, it offers 335i-style performance for the price of a 330i. So if you are in the market for something a little different, an Infiniti G35 could well be worth the wait.