Infiniti, Nissan’s premium offshoot, hasn’t pitched itself as an overtly sporting brand, preferring instead to market its interesting and intriguing line-up of saloons, crossovers and SUVs as refined, graceful, luxurious and high-tech.
The G37 Coupe is the closest thing the firm currently has to a performance car, but the saloon isn’t far behind. Infiniti claims the G37S coupé is a natural competitor for the BMW 330i coupé, which has a similar price.
In top S spec, as driven here, the G37 gets stiffer suspension rates than the lesser GT models, allied to bigger brakes, a clever active rear-steer system that sharpens both low-speed response and high-speed stability, plus a viscous coupling limited slip differential. S spec also brings comfortable and supportive sports seats with adjustable side bolsters.
The squat coupé proportions mean that front seat occupants sit considerably lower than they do in the saloon, which encroaches on rear-seat space, giving the feel of a classic 2+2 rather than a true four-seater. The saloon has less rear space than most of its rivals, too, which is more of a problem given the higher propensity for people to travel in the back. The convertible has a tiny boot when the roof is stowed, and the lack of a system to prevent folding the roof when luggage is in the way means there's a real risk of damaging the roof - and your shopping.
The interior is extremely well executed and the standard kit generous, with Premium trim models coming fitted with Infiniti’s Connectiviti navigation and multimedia pack.
On the road, the G37 comes across as a very good driving machine, almost in the BMW mould and arguably even better put together. The brakes are strong, but the pedal isn’t especially heavy. The ride is firm, but it is very sweetly damped, so it stays flat over the most disturbing ruts.
The strong, zesty 3696cc V6 engine produces 315bhp at 7000rpm and 265lb ft of torque at 5200. It’s a smooth, responsive and satisfying engine to make use of and, allied to a seven-speed automatic ’box, is as happy trundling at 1500rpm as it is attacking the 7600rpm redline.
The paddle-shift gearbox can be a little recalcitrant at times, with some slow shifts badly matched to the engine’s speed, but things smooth out once revs increase.
The innovative rear-steer system, standard on S and S Premium models, also works impressively well. Nissan-Infiniti points out that it has more than two decades’ expertise with similar systems – originally fitted to the Skyline – and it shows. The system makes the steering feel higher geared at low speed, by adding opposing lock, but stabilised in long, high-speed bends where it steers in the same direction as the front wheels.
But the best thing about this Infiniti is the uncorrupted nature of its rear-drive responses. It’s a car you can settle into for a long, quick drive. Turn the radio off, listen to the engine, concentrate on making small, well-timed control inputs, and you’ll be effortlessly fast.
Recommending a relatively unproven, unknown market performer over a product as well proven and deeply impressive as a BMW or Mercedes-Benz coupé, however, is a tough call. But if you can afford to gamble on the fate of Infiniti’s residual value, then the G makes a fresh, imaginative choice.
The Infiniti – any Infiniti, in fact – is still a rare enough sight to turn heads wherever it goes, and the distinctive-looking G is no exception. It may be expensive to run and, quite possibly, an expensive ownership proposition overall, but the G37’s driving characteristics certainly won’t cause you any disappointment.