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First local drive: Infiniti adds G-whiz twins

Air freshener: Infiniti’s G37 Convertible – shown here with the optional red leather interior – will compete with mid-sized drop-tops such as the Lexus IS250C and BMW 3 Series Convertible.

Fledgling luxury brand Infiniti beefs up model range with G37 two-door sports range


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10 Dec 2012

ESTABLISHED luxury car brands have some extra competition in the mid-size two-door coupe and convertible league from this month with the arrival of Infiniti’s G37 range in Australia, albeit only in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for now.

The likes of Audi’s A5, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class Coupe, the Lexus IS250C and BMW’s 3 Series Coupe and Convertible (to be called the 4 Series in the next generation due next year) all are in the crosshairs of the newcomer.

This G37 Coupe is more than half way through its model cycle, having been launched overseas in 2008. The drop-top followed in 2009, but both were refreshed in 2011.

In the United States – Infiniti’s biggest and most established market by far – a G-series sedan is also offered, but because an all-new four-door model is in the pipeline for launch next year, Infiniti Cars Australia decided to forgo that variant until the new generation becomes available in late 2013.

Despite their age, the G37 Coupe and Convertible both have a couple of years to run before the next two-door models are spun off the new ‘G’ platform by Infiniti – Nissan’s answer to Toyota’s Lexus.

The G37 is Infiniti’s third model range in Australia, lobbing three months after the brand made its debut in September with the M sedan – a BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS competitor in V6 petrol, diesel and hybrid flavours – and FX large SUV.

Speaking at the G37 media launch, Nissan Australia managing director Bill Peffer – whose company is responsible for launching Infiniti here – said Infiniti was not a “me-too” luxury brand, attempting to shadow European competitors.

He said Infiniti was set apart by its distinctive Japanese design language, customer focus – which includes pick-up and drop off of customer cars for servicing – and what he described as “Japanese hospitality”.

Mr Peffer said that, despite the crowded nature of the Australian car market, Infiniti could find a foothold for cars such as the G37.

“We think we have some white space for this car,” he said.

So far, Infiniti has opened only two stores to date – in Sydney and Brisbane – with Melbourne to follow in February. Adelaide and Perth are about a year away, with smaller markets to be added to the sales network beyond that.

Although the Melbourne showroom in Brighton is still under construction, buyers can still get a test drive from the local dealer with a phone call.

Underneath, the two-door Infiniti G37 is closely related to Nissan’s 370Z sportscar, sharing the front chunk of its front-engine, rear-drive platform and the acclaimed VQ-series 3.7-litre V6 and other mechanicals.

Because the G37 is a 2+2 four-seater – the 370Z has just two seats – and is designed to appeal to luxury-car buyers, it sits on a stretched version of the modular platform and has an entirely different body.

The G37 Coupe comes in two specification levels – GT Premium at $75,900 (plus on-road costs) and sportier S Premium at $83,500.

The convertible version, with its folding three-piece metal roof, comes in just one variant – top-level S Premium, at $87,900. However, customers can elect to add a red-leather interior for an extra $2000.

All G37 models come with a single powertrain – a 235kW/360Nm variant of the widely used V6, making it a little less powerful and torquey than version in the 245kW/363Nm 370Z.

Although a six-speed manual gearbox is available in G37 in the US, Infiniti has elected to stick with the seven-speed torque-converter automatic across all G37 models here.

This powertrain is said to be sufficient to scoot the coupe from zero to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds, but because the convertible weighs at least 170kg more due to the extra paraphernalia associated with top-down travel, it is half a second slower at 6.4 seconds.

Fuel economy is also impacted, with the 1866kg convertible recording 11.4 litres per 100km on the combined test cycle, compared with 10.5L/100km for the coupe.

The convertible has unique panels behind the A pillars, along with a wider rear track.

The electric-operated roof opens and closes in 25 seconds, using a button on the centre console. For safety, pop-up roll bars deploy automatically in a roll-over.

Infiniti believes one of its trump cards compared with many of its competitors is ‘bang for buck’, with high levels of standard equipment across all its models.

Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, rear-view camera, automatic bi-Xenon headlights, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, keyless entry, leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable seats (10-way for driver, including lumbar), a seven-inch touchscreen, 30Gb HDD navigation system, 10Gb music box, Bluetooth and audio streaming, and full iPod/USB connectivity.

The coupe has a sunroof (with sliding shade) and 11-speaker Bose sound system, while the convertible picks up a 13-speaker ‘open air surround sound’ system with AudioPilot 2.0 technology.

The S Premium grade adds high-performance brakes with bigger rotors and four-piston front/twin-piston rear callipers, a tyre pressure monitoring system and 19-inch alloy wheels (up from 18s), plus a number of features exclusive to the coupe including sports-tuned suspension, viscous limited-slip differential, four-wheel active steering, more heavily sports-oriented seats (with thigh extensions and 14-way power driver’s seat adjustment), a rear spoiler and red ‘S’ badging.

The four-wheel steering system is designed for extra agility and stability rather than parking manoeuvrability, using actuators on the rear suspension to alter the geometry of the lower links to point the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels at medium to high speeds.

The system also automatically alters the steering ratios, using electronics to calculate the desired ratio according to a range of sensors around the car.

Compared with rival German brands, the G37 Coupe and Convertible are about $20,000-30,000 cheaper than their six-cylinder equivalents, although BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz all offer a wider range of engines, including more affordable four-cylinder petrol and diesel models that start around the $60,000 mark.

The closest rival for the G37 Convertible is the Lexus IS250C, although the Lexus is powered by a smaller and less powerful 2.5-litre V6 engineLexus offers three convertible levels, ranging in price from $76,300 to $94,300, which places the G37 Convertible in the middle of this trio on price.

From 2014, Lexus will add a two-door coupe to its new-generation IS range that is about to be shown in sedan form at the Detroit motor show in January.

Infiniti G37 pricing*
GT Premium Coupe (a)$75,900
S Premium Coupe (a)$83,500
S Premium Convertible (a)$87,900
*Plus on-road costs

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