Nissan has a long and successful history of building sporting coupes. The iconic Z car can be admired by anyone with a heart and the Japanese Skylines have been breaking records for decades. When Nissan North America launched its premium sister brand Infiniti in the 1990s, it was simply a matter of time before another sport coupe was born. Easily the most famous Infiniti of late, the G series coupes have been gathering a following since its introduction back in 2003. Since then, the G coupe has evolved and is in its second generation but still holds onto the agenda set by the original G35. In order to be a truly multi-purpose grand touring car, the 2011 G37S Coupe must do many things and do them well.
Riding on the widely used Nissan FM platform, the second generation G37 shares many of its parts with other Nissans such as the 370Z, Infiniti FX and EX crossovers as well as the M series sedans. The G37 Coupe debuted in 2008 and since then has received just a few upgrades and improvements to keep it competitive. Going up against some tough competition such as the BMW 3-Series Coupe and Audi A5, the G37 is Japan’s forerunner into a segment that has mostly been dominated by the Germans. With a long wheelbase (112.2 inches), front engine/rear wheel drive layout, and a high output engine, it would appear that the G37 Coupe has what it takes to be a successful grand touring machine.
To prove its ability, our tester came equipped as a 2011 G37S Coupe Journey edition. Base MSRP is a competitive $37,650 and includes standard features such as HID headlamps, heated front seats, XM satellite radio, and a seven inch touch screen display. To accompany those features, our test G came with a slew of really trick options: the $1,200 Technology Package, $2,900 Premium Package (Bose audio system and memory seating), $1,900 Sport Package (19 inch wheels, Viscous Limited Slip rear, four piston caliper front brakes and sport tuned suspension) and the $1,850 Navigation Package. This brought the total MSRP to $46,975 with destination charge.
Ignoring all the technology packed inside the G37S and simply looking at its aesthetics, the refreshed coupe is pure class. Like the 370Z it shares so much with, the G37S incorporates the classic grand touring profile: long hood and slopped, tear-drop rear. The current generation’s body is much more fluid compared to the cut and angular first generation G35. And unlike its ‘boy-racer’ cousin, the 370Z, the G37S isn’t radical looking and doesn’t flaunt about like a peacock. Instead, it goes about its business in a sophisticated but powerful manner: never looking boring but never drawling too much attention to itself. Like a UFC fighter wearing an Armani suit, the G37S looks classy on the outside but packs a massive punch underneath.
That punch comes by way of the tried and true Nissan VQ engine. The G37S develops a staggering 330 horsepower from its naturally aspirated 3.7 liter DOHC V6. In a world where the word ‘turbo’ can be found on so many engine covers, Nissan has done a remarkable thing by producing so much power from a free-breathing engine. The G37S makes its power and 270 lb-ft of torque by big displacement, variable valve timing and a high 11:1 compression ratio. For being a technological, luxury packed vehicle, the VQ37 is a surprisingly simple engine that makes its power in a very ‘old school’ fashion. What isn’t ‘old school’ is the new for 2009 seven speed automatic found in our tester. With two overdrives, the new transmission helps the 2011 G37S coupe in more ways than one.
Driving the coupe, the engine makes itself known even before things get rolling. Known for its high levels of mechanical noise, the VQ has often been criticized for being rough and loud. For the 3.7 liter, Nissan has attempted to address this issue and even though G37S’s NVH has been improved over the old G35, it is still a noisy car. Loud as it may be, the noise it makes sounds absolutely wonderful: no one can mistake a VQ for anything else. Across the rev range, the G37S will always make racy sounds but it is when a driver pushes hard that the engine note gets deep, breathy and strong. And strong is how this car pulls; which makes any trip up a freeway onramp truly enjoyable.
Despite being an automatic, our G37S was never hindered by the new seven speed. Featuring a full manual sport mode with both a ‘sequential-style’ shifter and wheel mounted paddles, the auto is geared perfectly for the G’s power. Upshifts could jerk the coupe, especially in manual mode but they were never slow or outright harsh. If left in full auto mode, the transmission did have a tendency to go into overdrive a bit too soon which sometimes caused an excessive amount of downshifting to pass on the freeway. That is just a small grip that can be easily overlooked once the seven speed shows what it can help the G37S achieve: 27 mpg on the highway. That is an excellent figure considering how heavy and powerful the G is. Driving mostly around town with the occasional hard push up an onramp, our tester achieved a solid 20.6 mpg average: above the EPA’s city rating of 19.
When it comes to drivetrains, the G37S coupe proves that it can be competitive but what about handling? Both its biggest competitors from Germany are known for their handling prowess, but the G37S is by no means a slouch. Looking past the somewhat cheap feeling steering wheel, the actual steering feel is just fantastic. The weight is just right and very communicative: urging quick inputs around any corner. The suspension tuning for the S model is also just right and embodies everything that is wanted out of a grand touring car. It isn’t so low and harsh that a watchful eye is needed for any terrain other than glass-smooth concrete nor is it too high that it wallows in corners. The G37S stays absolutely flat and loves all types of high speed sweepers. The grip from the staggered Bridgestone tires and gorgeous 19 inch wheels is excellent. The chassis is also lively enough that if you wanted to be as adolescent as possible, the G37S will comply. The balance between ride comfort and sport tuning is difficult to perfect but Nissan and Infiniti have come very close to doing so with the G37S.
Just as it is happy to be flung around a corner, the G is even happier bombing down the fast lane. This is where the Infiniti’s true calling is realized and its grand touring nature comes out. The ride is so smooth that it is surprising and this car can easily rack up the miles without any issue of discomfort or boredom. Aside from its straight line performance, the G37S has so many neat things to keep anyone entertained. The nicely crafted center dash features the best navigation system this driver has sampled to date: period. Featuring things like real-time traffic and weather with a daily forecast, the touch screen operation is very easy to use and the center dial controller beats anything that has come out of Germany. At $1,850, the optional Navigation Package is a must for anyone considering purchasing a G37S.
The 2011 Infiniti G37S Coupe is a wonderful example of what a grand touring car should be. It does so many things well that it could easily be a driver’s only vehicle. Despite it being a little too loud, it doesn’t walk too far down the path of sports car or luxury car. The G37S manages to stay right in the middle of the grand touring equation as it is comfortable, efficient and fast all while being competitively priced. If a driver wants to push it hard, it will agree. If a driver wants to laze around town with the air conditioning on, it will agree. And if a driver wants to get across the country in record time, the 2011 Infiniti G37S Coupe will agree.