Wednesday 11th May 2011


PH FLEET: INFINITI G37 S COUPE

Our car park welcomes a new arrival in the form of a Japanese luxury car that isn't a Lexus. Must be an Infiniti, then...

G37's shape hasn't found many friends yet...
G37's shape hasn't found many friends yet...
I've never been a fan of following convention. In fact, the very fact that something is popular often makes me turn my heel and seek out an alternative.

Which, in a roundabout way, is how an Infiniti G37 S coupe, the newest member of the PH Fleet, has arrived in our car park; I want to find out whether the underdog of the premium segment can cut it, but I'm also one of those people who want to run it in large part because it isn't another Audi, Mercedes or BMW.

But people who think like that are by definition a minority market and so it's been a bit of a slow start thus far for the Infiniti brand in the UK. There are still only a handful of dealers set up - although more are on the way - and despite the coupe having been on sale for two years now, Infiniti has only shifted around 100 two-door G37s in that time. But then the number of brand new BMW 335i coupes and Audi S5s that found homes last year has got to be pretty small too... so perhaps it isn't that bad.

...with the bulky rump taking the most flak...
...with the bulky rump taking the most flak...
But Infiniti claims it isn't after big numbers as it's in for the long-haul (and besides, small numbers can only help to keep residual values sharp). No, what it's really after first is acceptance as a bonafide premium brand. And to do that you need to have a decent product to peddle - the question is whether we have that in the G37.

Its on-paper specification certainly ticks all the right boxes for a luxury GT with a sporting edge. The 3.7-litre V6 produces an eminently respectable 321bhp, which propels the car to 62mph via the rear wheels in 5.9secs and on to 155mph. There's also a limited-slip diff as standard, clever four-wheel steering, and a seven-speed auto with steering column-mounted titanium paddles.

...though I like its subtle curves
...though I like its subtle curves
Gadget fiends, meanwhile, are catered for by a barrage of standard equipment, including dual-zone climate control, heated seats, sat-nav, a thoroughly decent Bose stereo with an inbuilt hard disk drive, Bluetooth phone connectivity, adaptive cruise control, and fully electric seats (leather-clad, of course).

It's priced well, too, with even a top-spec G37S Premium like ours coming in at 41.5k. That's more than 2.5k less than an Audi S5 and, although a top-spec BMW 335i auto will set you back a little less (40,800), it won't be quite as well specified (and people will think you've got a 320d...).

Number plate not our first choice...
Number plate not our first choice...
Ours is a little less than factory-fresh, however, with a little more than 10k miles showing on the odo when it arrived at PH HQ, but its residual values are more or less on a par with its rivals - you can even expect it to be a couple of percentage points ahead of a 335i coupe in retained value after three years.

Age has not wearied our Infiniti, either, with no more than a few extra creases on the driver's seat bolster giving away the car's used nature.

So it looks right, it goes right, and the price is right, but this is only the beginning of the story. Can it really convince as a premium proposition?

...but the 321bhp V6 is more like it
...but the 321bhp V6 is more like it
Time will tell, but the initial signs are good (for me, at least). In qualitative terms it feels, if not quite up there with Audi, BMW, Jaguar et al, then at least several notches above something like a 370Z, while it goes, stops and steers with just the right mode of luxuriant sportiness.

Other members of the PH team are yet to be convinced, however, citing dull looks, some flimsy interior fitments and a slightly gruff engine as signs of it being little more than a poshed-up Nissan - although I reckon they're slightly blinded by a spot of badge snobbery. Either way, over the next few months the Infiniti may have its work cut out changing hearts and minds, but it's already halfway there for me.

Interior is suitably luxurious. Gadgets include...
Interior is suitably luxurious. Gadgets include...
..keyless entry (and ignition)...
..keyless entry (and ignition)...
...and fully electric seats, with which entry to rear seats is easy thanks to...
...and fully electric seats, with which entry to rear seats is easy thanks to...
...this button, which 'remembers' where the seat was set to. Very useful
...this button, which 'remembers' where the seat was set to. Very useful
Author: Riggers
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