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Review: 2005 Infiniti G35

June 25, 2005 11:24 AM EST | Coupes , Infiniti | Email to Friend

View large image Fast, stylish and relatively affordable, the rear-drive G35 sedan and the coupe offer high levels of performance and luxury.

Pros
Powerful V6, balanced and capable handling, roomy cabin, reasonable price.

Cons
Average interior materials quality, touchy brakes.

What's New for 2005
The sedan receives exterior styling revisions with a new hood, grille, bumpers, side sills, taillights and wheels. Sedans now make as much power as the coupes -- 280 hp (up from 260) and 270 lb-ft of torque (also up from 260) on models with an automatic transmission. Coupes and sedans equipped with a manual transmission get even more power (298 hp) but sacrifice 10 lb-ft of torque. Sedans with the sport suspension package also pick up 18-inch wheels and drilled aluminum pedals. All G35s get a redesigned instrument panel and console area with aluminum or wood trim, and the manual transmission has been improved to provide a lower shifting effort. A Sport Coupe model debuts this year and includes an even firmer suspension, a limited-slip differential, 19-inch forged alloy wheels and drilled aluminum pedals.

Introduction:
Infiniti's rear-drive G35 is a BMW 3 Series fighter if ever there was one. A discussion of the G must start with what's underneath. Like the 350Z, both the sedan and coupe are built on Nissan's FM platform. FM stands for "Front Midship" and refers to the positioning of the engine. Compared to most front-engine cars, Infiniti's engineers have located the G35's V6 further rearward behind the front wheels to improve balance and handling. Dimensionally, the G35 sedan is bigger than most of its competition. For instance, the G35 is 186.5 inches long, about 10 inches longer than the BMW 330i and IS 300. It's also taller than most. This doesn't translate to extra weight, however, as both G35s weigh about as much as their peers. Weight savings comes from a carefully designed body structure, an aluminum hood and extensive use of aluminum for the front and rear suspension components. The performance equation gets even better when you check out the engine. Under the hood of every G35 is a 3.5-liter V6 similar to that found in the Nissan 350Z, Maxima and Altima. This advanced V6 features 24 valves, dual-overhead cams, variable valve timing and an electronically controlled throttle. Output is rated at 280 hp in coupes and sedans equipped with an automatic transmission; opt for the six-speed manual in either and you'll top out at 298. The driver is greeted by a T-shaped instrument panel that is modern in appearance. Once strapped in, the driver might notice that the driver seat is actually different from the front-passenger seat. The seat cushion has a special center-mound shape that contains firmer foam to support the driver better during sporty driving. Other features include a gauge cluster that tilts in tandem with the steering wheel (though there is no telescope function), an optional and concealable LCD screen for the navigation system and an analog clock. Infiniti's target from the beginning was to create a high level of driving performance in a package that offers day-to-day functionality. If you are shopping for an entry-luxury sport coupe or sedan, this is one that you'll want to check out.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The G35 is available in coupe or sedan form. The sedan is available in rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive. There are no trim levels to choose between in the sedan, but coupes are available in base or Sport trim. All sedans come with 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, one-touch auto up-down front windows, an in-dash six-disc CD changer, keyless entry and a rear-seat trunk pass-through. In addition to that, base coupes get high-intensity discharge headlamps and heated, power-adjustable seats. Additionally, sedans equipped with a manual gearbox and all coupes get a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and drilled aluminum pedals; manual-shift coupes also pick up Brembo brakes. The Sport Coupe model adds an even firmer performance-tuned suspension, a viscous limited-slip differential and 19-inch alloys. All leather-upholstered G35s are eligible for a premium package that includes dual-zone climate control with rear vents, an upgraded 225-watt Bose sound system, a sunroof, automatic headlights and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Among the other options are a DVD-based navigation system and either Sirius or XM Satellite Radio.

Powertrains and Performance:
Though the G35 comes with just one engine, it should satisfy all but the most power-hungry drivers. This smooth-revving 3.5-liter V6 makes 280 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque in both the coupe and sedan when hitched to the five-speed automatic transmission. Models equipped with the six-speed manual transmission get a 298-hp version of this engine. Automatic-equipped G35 sedans are eligible for an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system that includes a "snow mode," which evenly splits the power 50/50 to the front and rear wheels.

Safety:
All G35s come standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brakeforce distribution and BrakeAssist, torso-protecting side airbags, head-protecting side curtain airbags and front seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), a stability control system, is also standard. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the G35 earned the top score of "Good."

Interior Design and Special Features:
Thanks to a long wheelbase, the G35 offers a spacious cabin. The sedan's passenger compartment has ample amounts of front and rear headroom, legroom and shoulder room. The coupe is also roomy in front; those seated in back will find adequate legroom, but the sloping rear glass limits the available headroom for adults. The sedan offers 14.5 cubic feet of trunk capacity, while the coupe's hatchback holds just 7.8 cubes.

Driving Impressions:
As expected, the G35 offers a very entertaining ride. Acceleration is strong, and the prodigious midrange torque is something not often found in this class of car. Handling, too, is on par with the best and you'll likely find yourself leaving the windows down just to hear the exhaust note of the coupe. We highly recommend taking a look at the G35 if you're shopping for an entry-level luxury sport sedan or coupe.

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