G coupe or M sedan, Infiniti class of 37s offer driving nirvana



Most of you have probably seen the Nissan commercial where a new father-to-be laments his ownership of a Z sports coupe after hearing the news his family is growing. He is suddenly struck with the brilliant idea to stretch the Z to a four-door sports car in the form of the Maxima. Flip this same scenario to an Infiniti family and that is exactly the case as we went from G37 coupe to M37 sport sedan recently.

No, the rabbit did not die over here at our household but I was treated to the bookends of the 37 series of vehicles Nissan’s luxury division has to offer.

While the Nissan and Infiniti counterparts feature nearly identical powertrains (330hp from the spirited 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6) and platform (enhanced front mid-ship FM) architecture, styling takes the different divisions down their separate and unique paths.

For myself I prefer the Infiniti train of thought as applied to its new models. The curves found in newly released vehicles draw inspiration from the Essence concept that made the autoshow rounds a couple of years back (www.geardiary.com/2009/09/25/essence-of-infiniti). Designers have included supple (and some voluptuous) curves into the showroom models.

When it comes to imports, I have never been much of a coupe man. If I have to live with two doors give me a good old Camaro or Mustang any day. Here is no exception. I enjoy the Z and G coupe models and appreciate them for the stellar driving experiences they offer, but I do not have access to a track and prefer easier ingress/egress as well as a more substantial trunk.

The G coupe we tested recently was the Sport 6MT version, meaning it came with the goodies a sports car driver is looking for including the manual gearbox. And ALL Infiniti vehicles feature rear- (or all-) wheel drive, something rare for an automaker these days but necessary if a brand chooses to promote itself as being performance-oriented.

Performance comes at a price. Our G tester with 19-inch wheels and tires, leather interior and all the bells and whistles rolls in at a tune of nearly 44 grand. And should one opt for the coupe over the M sedan you will pay the price at the pump as well as the G37 Sport 6MT loses one mile-per-gallon over the automatic M37 sedan in both city and highway driving.

Infiniti does make a four-door version of the G, now dubbed G37 sedan, but for me, when I saw this 2011 M sedan it was all over. This is one of the best looking vehicles I had laid my eyes upon in a while. Its bodylines appear to be almost hand-worked and the list of features has it at the head of its class.

Our recent M37 sedan tester featured the Sport package that added new 4-Wheel Active Steer technology, sport-tuned suspension, sport brakes and stylish 20-inch wheels and tires. Also included is Infiniti’s Drive Mode Selector (sport, normal, eco and snow modes), Active Noise Control, Blind Sport Warning and Intervention, Forest Air system, Eco Pedal and Active Trace Control. I admit some of these systems seem a bit redundant or overlapping and some just seem to have fancy names for new versions of available technology but Infiniti has these, and more, to further enhance the driving experience while offering the most comfort, the best safety and the latest technological advancements available on four wheels.

A larger, more powerful M sedan is available from Infiniti but I found the V-6 model to be quite capable. As I mentioned previously, fuel economy is better than the manual G coupe model and with the seven-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel paddle shifters the driving experience can be nearly as fun. And be careful of those corners with this new 4WAS technology. It took a few days to get used to the immediate and strong steering assistance this system provides. It also develops some mild twitches on roads with asymmetrical rutting (which seems to be every asphalt roadway around here).

M37 pricing begins at $46,250 with our loaded 2011 tester fetching $54,660. Whether you spring for a G or an M, Infiniti’s class of 37s offers spirited driving experiences no matter what life stage you find yourself at.

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