2008 Infiniti G37, QX56, and M45
One was too big and one was too small… Jonathan Spira finds an Infiniti that’s just right.
Once upon a time, Jonathan Spira went for a walk and came upon a house. Instead of three bowls of porridge, there were three Infinitis. Jonathan was hungry so he decided to drive to a restaurant (given that no porridge was available).
He tried the first Infiniti, a G37 coupe.
“This Infiniti is too small” he exclaimed.
He tried the second Infiniti, a QX56 SUV.
“This Infiniti is too big” he said.
He tried the third Infinity, an M45 sedan.
“Ahhh, this Infiniti is just right.”
TOO SMALL – THE G37 COUPE
The striking new 2008 Infiniti G37 coupe is powered by a 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6 engine with 330 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque.
While the new G coupe has a striking resemblance to its predecessor, the G35, every body panel is brand new. It has a strong familial resemblance with the Infiniti G sedan as the designers borrowed heavily from that car’s design cues, including the wave hood, a double-arch grill, the headlights, and the integrated spoiler.
It seemed almost too beautiful to drive.
Behind the wheel was a different story. Taller passengers complained of a lack of headroom and any passengers who ended up in the rear seat found it cramped (although access to the rear seats was made easy thanks to a button next to the front seat’s folding lever that temporarily moves the seat forward).
With a 330-hp powerplant, the beauty was more than skin deep but it did not reach the interior which suffered from too much cheap plastic and lacked a solid feel when going fast (rule of thumb: if you feel you are going fast when you are going fast, that’s not a good thing). While some may like the fluorescent treatment for the gauges, I found it too bright. Using the car for running errands such as shopping, I found the trunk a bit shallow.
But it was fun to drive. The 330 hp engine felt zippy although the G37 weighs about 100 pounds more than the G35 coupe it replaced (it’s also slightly wider and longer for the record) and the steering felt just right, especially on windy roads. The six-speed manual shifted smoothly and solidly.
The RWD G37 (and its sibling, the G35 sedan) have a premium price tag compared with their FWD down-market cousins, the Nissan Altima coupe and sedan. I guess beauty has its price.
TOO BIG – THE QX56
The new-for-2008 QX56, at 207” and 5900 pounds, is the largest and heaviest car I’ve ever tested. Granted it seats eight passengers in comfort (one would be forgiven if one mistook the cabin for that of a private jet although the QX may have more legroom of 42”), has a Burr-Brown audio system with a 9.5-gigabyte Music Box hard drive, and the third row 60/40 split seat folds electrically at the press of a button. Heated seats for the front two rows are standard equipment.
The 2008 QX is the first major revision since Infiniti entered the mammoth luxury SUV market in 2004. The 2008 features a new waterfall grill and new front and rear fascias, new front fog lights, a new one-piece roof rack, and good-looking 20” aluminum-alloy wheels. Customers can specify a second-row bench in lieu of the standard captain’s chairs, bringing passenger capacity up to eight from the standard seven.
The interior is elegant with what Infiniti refers to as “authentic” materials, namely wood, aluminum, stainless steel, and leather.
Under the long, long hood is a 5.6-litre V-8 providing 320 horsepower and 393 pound-feet of torque; it’s mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Rear- or four-wheel-drive models are offered. Despite its mirth and girth, acceleration is impressive. Fuel economy, quite predictably, is dismal but not out of line for this class of vehicle.
JUST RIGHT – THE M45
Nissan’s Infiniti luxury nameplate was launched in 1990 but it failed to have a presence in the mid-sized luxury sedan category until it launched the M45 sedan in 2003. But the first M45 was little more than a rebadged Nissan with a few luxury touches added.
Today’s M45 is a far cry from that early entrant; it’s refined, comfortable, and fun to drive. I’m still not a big fan of the electroluminescent gauges but they are easy to read (although I still find the analog clock in the center an anachronism and not particularly convenient for a quick time check).
For 2008, the M has a new front grille and bumpers, a lower air intake, fog lamps, revised fenders and decklid, and updated taillights.
It also has Infiniti’s new Lane Departure Prevention system, which beeps at you if you wander outside your lane and applies individual brakes to keep the car pointed in the right direction. The beeping isn’t always audible and I am not sure if I want another electronic nanny in the car.
The M comes with the Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System and the 9.3 Gbyte Music Box hard drive for digital music storage and playback (very convenient although I regularly keep 30+ Gbytes on my iPod; fortunately, the M45 allows me to plug my iPod in as well). The Bose Studio Surround 308-watt audio system, which includes digital 5.1 channel decoding and 14 speakers (including personal speakers in the front seats), sounded quite good.
Adaptive cruise control, the Bose audio system, heated and reclining rear seats, and the fact that it’s fun to drive make the M45 a serious contender in the mid-sized luxury sedan category.
Tools for the Business Traveler in the Infiniti Line
Bluetooth telephone support and satellite navigation are the first two things I look at in a car after a few essentials such as seat comfort and handling. Infiniti equips its cars with a large screen but inexplicably places the cockpit controller on the dash, not near the center console a la BMW and Mercedes, making its use a distraction for the driver. This is of course why you can’t use the controller to set a destination when the car is in motion – it’s too much of a distraction.
The satnav system’s voice response did an excellent job of understanding my spoken entry – but only as long as I kept still. Several times I started to pull away after I thought I was done providing the system with information and the system deleted everything.
The system failed my standard satnav test, which involves changing routes to a parallel highway. The Infiniti attempted get me to detour back to the original route (i.e. it wants me to exit one highway and take streets just to get back on the original highway) multiple times. Otherwise, it provided clear directions although the text-to-speech system should know that Rt. is “route” and not something pronounced “R” “T”.
Pairing a mobile phone with the car’s Bluetooth system is easy. I never got any of my phonebooks to transfer, which meant that I had to either recite phone numbers to the voice response system (which did an excellent job of capturing them correctly) or initiate calls from my mobile phone, a distraction when driving. I’m sure some phones transfer their phonebooks but none of mine did.
Keyless access works well in the cars although the QX defies logic in requiring the driver to mimic turning a key on the steering column to start (the M and the G coupe simply require the driver to press the start button). The reverse camera and parking sensor also work well.
2008 Infiniti G37 Coupe Sport 6MT
Base price/price-as-tested $35,550/$43,600
Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 3.7-liter/330 hp/24-valve DOHC V-6
Transmission 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and Downshift Rev Matching, DS Mode, and ASC
Curb weight 3616 lbs (Automatic) / 3668 (Sport 6MT)
Weight distribution 54/46
Wheelbase 112.2 in
Length x width x height 183.1 x71.8 x 54.8
0-60 mph 5.3 seconds
EPA city/highway fuel economy (mpg) 18/24 (Automatic) / 17/26 (Sport 6MT)
2008 Infiniti QX56 AWD AT
Base price/price-as-tested $55,350/$58,810
Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive
Engine 5.6-liter/320 hp/32-valve DOHC V-8
Transmission 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive
Curb weight 5597 lbs (RWD); 5903 lbs (AWD)
Weight distribution 50/50 (RWD); 51/49 (AWD)
Wheelbase 123.2 in
Length x width x height 206.9 x 79.5 x 77.0
0-60 mph 7.3 seconds
EPA city/highway fuel economy (mpg) 12/18 (RWD); 12/17 (AWD)
2008 Infiniti M45x AWD
Base price/price-as-tested $52,200/$60,015
Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive
Engine 4.5-liter/325 hp/32-valve DOHC V-8
Transmission 5-speed automatic transmission with real-time feedback, learning algorithm and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching
Curb weight 3990 (RWD); 4176 lbs (AWD)
Weight distribution 54/46 (Luxury and Sport); 55/45 (AWD)
Wheelbase 114.2 in
Length x width x height 114.2.9 x 70.8 x 59.4 (Luxury)/59.5 (Sport)/60.0 (AWD)
0-60 mph 5.7 seconds
EPA city/highway fuel economy (mpg) 16/21
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.