Premium Japanese firm look to take the fight to BMW, Audi and Mercedes with its classy new coupe.
The Infiniti coupé blends the 350Z’s chassis and the potent V6 from the Nissan’s replacement in a stylish package. While it has still to be fine-tuned for our roads, the G37 is well equipped, solidly built and should be priced competitively. In fact, the main stumbling block could be the unfamiliar badge.
Is there no end to Infiniti’s reach? The Japanese brand has successfully battled with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes in America, taking chunks of the German manufacturers’ sales. But having stormed the US, Nissan’s premium arm is readying its assault on this side of the Atlantic.
Tackling such a high standard of competition is no easy task, but if the stylish and well equipped G37 Sport is anything to go by, Europe’s finest will have to watch out. The coupé shares underpinnings with the fine-handling Nissan 350Z, but the bodywork is distinctly Infiniti, with L-shaped lights front and rear, a rakish roofline and a bonnet that flows from wing to wing over the bulge of the 3.7-litre V6.
Our car was an American-market model, equipped with the five-speed auto. For Europe, the engine will be remapped to meet Euro V emissions regulations, and mated to a choice of new seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmissions.
Car group tests
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Inside, the driving position is good, with plenty of adjustability and dials that move with the steering column to give a great view of the instruments.
There are some attractive details, which back up the brand’s premium aspirations: an analogue clock is a classy touch, and the dials glow in Infiniti’s signature purple. As with the mechanicals, the interior will be overhauled for European buyers, so cars that go on sale here will get new switchgear, along with more sound insulation and thicker carpets.
The front seats will be sportier and closer-fitting, although not much can be done for rear passengers – their headroom is compromised by a steeply sloping roofline.
On the road, the creamy V6 powerplant provides plenty of torque – that bodes well for the forthcoming Nissan 370Z, which will share this engine – although it’s hamstrung by the US-spec gearbox. Our model was also let down by steering which was overly light, damping that couldn’t cope with poorly surfaced roads and brakes which lacked feel.
However, according to Infiniti these issues are all high priorities on the list of revisions which should ensure that the coupé is not only a great car to drive, but also a refined long-distance cruiser.
All models will come generously specified as standard. If the package of enhancements to convert them from the American to the European markets is well executed – and the price is right – then the established premium marques will have real cause for concern. The newcomer offers a genuinely stylish, striking alternative to the more obvious choices in this class. Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault-Nissan, has announced that a folding hard-top might go on sale in Europe at a later date, too – so Infiniti’s success looks set to continue.
RIVAL: BMW 3-series Coupé Attracting buyers away from the BMW is key for Infiniti. And the 3 Coupé is a strong contender: it’s superb to drive, attractive and very well built. This is the car to beat, although the G37 shows enough promise to confirm the BMW might not have things all its own way.