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The INFINITI G35 sedan has been remade for 2007. The body of the four-door sedan is updated, giving it a tauter, more buff look but without forfeiting its signature styling cues. Inside, there's a richer, warmer look and feel, with performance-oriented enhancements that add to the driving experience.
The 2007 INFINITI G35 uses rear-wheel drive, a necessity for true sporty handling. But there's also an all-wheel-drive model, the G35x, that gives up none of the handling but adds capability in rainy climes and where winters bring snow. The V6 engine on the 2007 models is more powerful and more efficient than before even though it's the same size. A five-speed automatic transmission with manual mode remains standard across the line. However, the Sport model kicks it up a notch, offering a choice between a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic with Formula 1 style magnesium paddle shifters on the steering column.
G35 buyers choose from four versions: a nicely equipped entry-level model with leather trim and automatic climate control; the Journey model with dual-zone air conditioning, a navigation system, a premium audio system, and a self-adjusting cruise control; the G35x with all-wheel drive; and a revised Sport model with upgraded front seats, active four-wheel steering with variable ratio power steering and a firmer suspension that turns the G35 into a serious sports sedan.
The substantially reworked 2007 engine invites a heavy right foot, delivering its added power smoothly and strongly right up to the borderline motorcycle-level, 7500-rpm red line. The icing on this cake is that estimated fuel economy for the 2007 model is up over the '06, by 1 mile per gallon, at least for those who can resist the implicit urge.
INFINITI didn't forget the people just along for the ride. The base sound system is competitive with that in any luxury sedan. But committed audiophiles will find the top-level, Studio On Wheels system from Bose delivers a richer, fuller, more intricate and crisper sound than many mega-buck home stereos.
When INFINITI first arrived in the U.S., many saw it as Japan's counterpart to Jaguar, much like Lexus was perceived as Japan's answer to Mercedes-Benz. That's changed, at least the part about INFINITI. Clearly, INFINITI has now set its sights on BMW, long touted as the ultimate driving machine. The 2007 G35 sedan is loosening BMW's grip on that crown.
Unlike the sedan, the 2007 G35 coupe carries over unchanged from 2006. It will be redesigned and introduced as a new model for 2008.
The INFINITI G35 sedan benefits from some serious work on the powertrain and suspension for 2007 and the results are immediately apparent underway. Only then does the full significance of the changes to for 2007 become clear.
The engine may be the same displacement and configuration, but it's far from merely a mildly tweaked carryover from the 2006 G35. By way of emphasis, INFINITI says some 80 percent of the engine's major components have been redesigned. Variable exhaust valve timing has been added, for example. A beefier engine block, modified pistons and, of course, new coding in the engine management computer have endowed the engine with a higher rev limit, now 7500 revolutions per minute versus last year's 6600 rpm. These modifications, together with a higher compression ratio (10.6:1 vs. 10.3:1), additional knock sensors, improved cooling, Iridium spark plugs and a freer flowing intake and exhaust system, not only boost the horsepower but also are supposed to deliver that added power more smoothly and over a broader power curve.
It works. Where last year's engine seemed to run out of breath, so to speak, as it neared its red line, the '07's pulls right up to its maximum rpm. It willingly and heartily revs to levels normally associated with smaller, less complex engines, along the lines, say, of the 2.2-liter, four-cylinder screamer that powers the Honda S2000 sports car. Fuel economy is up, too, by one mile per gallon in both city and highway driving, according to EPA estimates. That said, the new G35 still trails the 2006 BMW 330i and Lexus IS 350 by as much as 2 mpg in city and highway driving.
The transmissions ably handle the engine's power and power curve. Clutch operation on the six-speed manual is heavier than we would expect on a sedan, even a sports sedan. This makes for sometimes rocky clutch engagement, especially at low speeds and light throttle. A luxury car's shift lever ought not vibrate as much as the one in the pre-sale test car, but INFINITI techies said this was an anomaly that will be cured in cars built for sale to consumers. Similar assurances were given for a whine in the first four gears that evoked memories of straight-cut gears in full-on race cars. Shift pattern and gear selection, though, were tight and precise, respectively, requiring little effort.
The automatic does its job rather casually at part throttle. Holding the right foot unwaveringly hard to the floor produced sharper, more solid shifts at the engine's redline. The automatic changes gears the quickest and, interestingly, the smoothest with either the shift lever or the column-mounted paddles and under full throttle; it's like a power shift but without the clutch. Credit this to the engine's electronics, which feather the throttle through the instantaneous shift. The same electronics deliver smooth downshifts, too, whether in full auto mode or manual override, by blipping the throttle to match engine rpm to transmission speed in the lower gear; think double clutching a pure, manual gearbox.
Ride and handling are consistent across the line with the notable and commendable exception of the Sport models with four-wheel steer. Besides actively adjusting the rear wheel toe by up to a degree depending on vehicle speed and steering angle, that option brings with it a sportier shock and spring setup and road speed-sensitive, variable ratio power steering. For hustling down winding roads, this suspension and 4WS combination is the preferred. And it's not all that far out of its element cruising the Interstate. It's solid and taut and manages the G35's mass very well without exacting a price in stiffness. It's firm, yes, and will transmit pavement heaves more dramatically into the passenger compartment. But over anything less than chunking blacktop or weathered concrete, it gives up very little against the standard suspension, which leans a bit more toward supple. Not
The 2007 INFINITI G35 is Nissan's entry in the highly competitive sports sedan class. And it's definitely competitive, with its slick styling, comfortable interior, power and handling on par with any of its peers. For people wanting a sports sedan that's as accommodating of its passengers as it is rewarding for its driver, the new G35 is hard to beat.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Tom Lankard filed this report from Lenox, Massachusetts.