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INFINITI's new G35 sedan boasts all the hallmarks of a true sports sedan: powerful engine, rear-wheel drive, sports suspension, performance tires, excellent brakes, and driver-oriented cockpit.
It's practical, offering more interior space than other cars in the so-called near-luxury class. And it costs less than a BMW 330i.
The INFINITI G35 sedan clearly lives up to its claim as a sports sedan. Its handling is better than the front-drive Acura TL Type-S. It's more powerful than the TL Type-S, BMW 330i, Lexus IS 300, or Mercedes-Benz C320. INFINITI's daring design, with stacked headlamps, catamaran fenders, and short overhangs should make the G35 appealing to drivers who want something different.
Once underway, the INFINITI G35 drives like a true sports sedan. Like the BMW 3 Series, the INFINITI G35 features a rear-wheel-drive layout. That makes for sportier handling characteristics than a front-wheel-drive car, such as the Acura TL.
The optional sports suspension includes special shocks and springs and P215/55VR17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A summer tires. It rides nicely with this setup, comfortable but firm. There's a bit of wind noise at 70 mph.
The G35 feels stable at high speeds and motors around fast sweepers without drama. The driver feels well connected to the road, less isolated than in an Acura TL. On winding roads it rewards the driver with quick, precise steering that offers good feedback. Drive it harder and it responds beautifully. It never surprises the driver with errant behavior. A skilled driver will discover that the chassis can be rotated or steered with the throttle.
The G35 doesn't have the razor sharp response of a BMW 3 Series, and the rear end bobs a bit in fast, sweeping fast turns especially those with undulations. But don't get us wrong: this is clearly one of the best sports sedans in the class with much better handling than any of the front-drive cars. The G35's long wheelbase, low center of gravity, aerodynamic downforce, and lightweight suspension are all designed to keep its tires on the road where they can generate maximum grip. This makes the G35 quicker and more satisfying to drive than an Acura TL. The Acura TL Type S begins to lose composure when pushed hard on rough roads with sharp corners; asked to steer and propel the car at the same time, the TL's front tires begin to lose grip.
The G35's handling characteristics are designed to be less-fatiguing on the driver, a benefit its developer learned from fielding sports prototypes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in Group C racing. Using a large-diameter tire instead of wide tire makes the contact patch longer rather than wider for less noise and improved wet performance. Also, the tires are less sensitive to camber changes and benefit from better sidewall support than that of a wider tire with a smaller diameter.
The G35's V6 engine produces a nice sporty exhaust note. There's lots of low-rpm torque, more than what's available on the Acura TL Type S, Lexus IS 300, and Mercedes C320. This makes the G35 feel very responsive around town. Stand on the gas and it delivers brilliant acceleration performance. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, according to Car and Driver magazine.
The five-speed automatic transmission is super smooth in normal usage and quite responsive when pressed. It features a manual mode, which can be selected by pushing the shift lever to the right then selects among the five gears. Some drivers find pushing the lever to the outside awkward, but I didn't find it to be a big issue. Select a gear, such as third, and the transmission will still automatically shift down to second when needed, but not up past third or whatever gear is selected; it'll hit the rev limiter if the driver forgets to shift up. This manual mode reduces the tendency for the transmission to uphshift unnecessary on winding, mountainous roads. That can make for more enjoyable driving because it won't shift up to fourth when you lift off the gas as you prepare to brake for the next corner, providing the benefit of some engine braking. Still, it's so responsive in the regular automatic mode, I tend to put it in Drive and leave it there.
INFINITI's G35 sedan is a compelling choice for drivers who want the performance and handling of a true sports sedan. It's one of the quickest, best handling cars in its class. It's also comfortable and practical, with a roomy back seat, a big trunk, and the trappings of a luxury sedan.
At first glance the G35 sedan seems redundant because INFINITI already has a luxury sports sedan called the I35. INFINITI G35 and I35 cost the same. (The I35, which comes standard with leather upholstery, retails for $28,750, while a G35 equipped with optional leather is priced at $28,950.) They are powered by the same engine (INFINITI's 3.5-liter V6). And they offer similar interior space and similar luxury features. The difference is in emphasis: INFINITI G35 is a sports sedan with luxury trappings. INFINITI I35 is a sophisticated luxury sedan with crisp, sporty handling. Drivers more interested in a comfortable luxury car with crisp handling, a smooth ride, and elegant accommodations may find the INFINITI I35 a better choice.
Drivers who want a genuine sports sedan under $30,000 should take a look at the G35.