In 1975, a German automaker by the name BMW put into production a car so influential that the automotive industry would never be the same. Setting the bar for all entry sports sedans was the 3-Series and since its birth, manufactures from around the world have been scrambling to build their ultimate Bavarian fighter. Dozens of copy cats have come and gone as it takes more than just a pretty face and nice leather to go one-on-one with an ultimate. In 2003, a competitor from an unlikely source entered the ring carrying with it similar training as the German powerhouse. The Japanese Infiniti G Series sedan looked like any other impersonator from years past: high output six cylinder power up front, sporting transmissions, rear wheel drive layout and luxury galore. More than likely, the 3-Series didn’t take much notice at first but as the G took its first swing, a heated rivalry quickly ensued. As the years have gone by, Infiniti has kept the G sedan in training to hone it into what it is now: the 2011 G37 Sedan.

Revised in 2007 and then again in 2009, the current G cars still ride on the now-famed Nissan FM platform. Sharing the same 112.2 inch wheelbase as the Coupe and Convertible we tested in the summer, the sedan uses control arms and coil springs to suspend its front while a multi-link set up is used in the rear. In sedan mode, the G37 is 187 inches long, just four more than the two door models. As the 2011 sits, it carries a revised front fascia, navigation and powertrain compared to second generation’s 2007 debut. In place of the old and rather rough 3.5 liter V6 is the same “big block” 3.7 liter VQ37 found in numerous Nissan products. Gone also is the five speed automatic, replaced with Infiniti’s exclusive seven speed. In essence, our tester is the four door version of the G37S Coupe we previously drove which means gives it some added responsibility that the two door doesn’t really have to worry about. When two extra doors are added, the sedan must be conceived as being refined, comfortable and more mature than its youthful, coupe sibling.

To find out if Nissan can truly play with the German heavy hitters, our example came loaded to the teeth. Starting life as an automatic 3.7 liter with a MSRP of $36,200, our Graphite Shadow tester came with $7,950 worth of added options. The Premium package gave it a Bose stereo, power moonroof and memory seating. The Sport Package added aggressive fog lamps, a stiffer suspension with faster ratio steering, a viscous limited slip differential, uprated brakes and summer tires. The Navigation Package gives the G one of the best media controllers in the industry while the Technology Package gives it innovative features such as rain-sensing wipers. Finally, the Interior Accent Package adds a bit of extra class with wood trim and brings the final MSRP for our tester to $45,045 with destination charge. That price is a little more than a grand less than our G Coupe test car.

Like the two door, the sedan is motivated by a Nissan legend: the VQ V6. Displacing 3.7 liters and using variable valve timing for the double overhead cams, the four door puts down a stout 328 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Ever-so-slightly detuned from the Coupe, the sedan is still no slouch at the drag strip as 60 mph will show its face from a standstill in the mid five second range. With traction control off, a driver’s inner high schooler can be unleashed as there is enough grunt to spin the rear tires for a good distance. Acceleration builds excellently as the VQ has a powerband that seems to be ready at any rpm. Compared to its competition, the G37 is the hot-rod of the premium entry sedan segment. Placing the seven speed auto into manual shift mode returns quick but slightly lumpy shifts. The ratios may be perfectly placed for the VQ’s power but it is by no means the most refined slushbox on the market. In that regard, the BMW’s autos have the Infiniti beat as the same, occasional “jerk” found behind the wheel of the two door was present while driving the four door. Of course, any driver can equip the big six G sedan with the excellent six speed manual transmission for a more connected feel.

Blasting down a straightaway may be a hoot, but if the Infiniti wants to go truly head-to-head with the 3-Series, it must carry that speed into a corner. Fortunately, with our tester’s Sport Package, there was no worry about whether or not the sedan could grab an apex. Hitting the larger brakes scrubs off speed with power and confidence and with each tug of the perfectly placed steering wheel, the G37 does what its told. The added weight of the sedan is present, but a driver can have so much fun behind the wheel that it isn’t really a bummer. It truly does feel like the Coupe and unless you look in the back seat to see the door handles, you would be hard pressed to tell a noticeable difference between the two Gs. Dynamically, the G has all the right moves to catch, pass and then walk away from its rivals on any mountain road.

Putting aside its road manners, the G37 continues to be a solid sports sedan. On the outside, the two extra doors adds a much-needed level of maturity to the G car line up. Angular, long, low and understated, the sedan might as well be the definition of handsome. It isn’t so grown up that it looks boring or bland and it isn’t so racy that it looks like it would wear a hat backwards: it really is the perfect middle ground. This is what a sports sedan should be: classy enough to pull up slowly to a valet and powerful enough to evoke envy. On the inside, the updated center console and navigation display fit the car’s personality greatly. The comfort level of the seats is top-notch and there is enough support that drivers and passengers don’t get flung around the cockpit. Of course, the addition of two doors brings along extra convince for all occupants and compared to its rivals, the G sedan bests its German counterparts but falls short of just a few Japanese offerings. Even still, there is enough space that two adults can rest comfortably but adding a third makes a full size car become wishful. Whether standing still or blasting down a freeway, the up front occupants will always have enough technology available to stay entertained. The navigation system featuring real-time traffic, weather and fuel prices along with satellite radio is still one of the best on the market today. Rivaled only by a few, the Infiniti’s media system outshines most German sedans for its ease of use and expansive nature. In short, no G37 should leave the showroom floor without the navigation package.

At a glance and if put side by side, the Infiniti G37 Sedan should be the clear winner compared to the BMW 3-Series however, there is a “but”. What the Infiniti gains in power, dynamics and value, it loses in one key category: refinement. The VQ, though worthy for a muscle car, isn’t the smoothest or quietest mill on the market. That title might go the German which offers a more impressive automatic transmission as well. Once again, the seven speed does an excellent job of blasting the Infiniti down the road and returning solid highway fuel mileage, but its abrupt shifts fall short of the BMW’s which resemble the smoothness of glass. It’s comfortable, dynamically impressive, seriously fast and an excellent value but the G37 lacks that indescribable feel found only in the BMW 3-Series. Despite that, there is no reason why the Bavarian bomber should be picked over the Japanese knife. Both cars are so impressive in their own right that it truly comes down to buyer personality. If making your way to work with a mischievous grin on your face sounds ideal, than the Infiniti should be a high consideration. There is so much poise and character packed into four doors that the 2011 Infiniti G37 Sedan fully embodies what a sports sedan should be: fast, luxurious, comfortable and most importantly, entertaining.

Photos: © Copyright 2011 Ossamah Shabbir

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