2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe

Oct. 23, 2003
The highly refined, elegant lines of the 2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe suggest a much heftier sticker than $38,000. Infiniti has done its homework on what it calls a "sensually designed authentic sport coupe," and it shows.

The highly refined, elegant lines of the suggest a much heftier sticker than $38,000. Infiniti has done its homework on what it calls a "sensually designed authentic sport coupe," and it shows.

The G35 is easy on the eyes and a blast to drive. A 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine makes 280 hp at 6,200 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Continuously variable valve-timing control keeps the power coming into a six-speed manual transmission. Straight-line acceleration is satisfactory, though hill-filled twisties is where the real fun begins.

Seven-spoke aluminum wheels shod with fat P225/45-18 tires up front and fatter P245/45-18 rear tires couple to an independent, multilink suspension. Traction control and speed-sensitive steering round out the package. The combination gives excellent road feel and crisp, sure handling. Stopping power is equally impressive, thanks to huge Brembo antilock disc brakes. Those used to more sluggish-handling cars may initially find themselves oversteering the G35 in tight turns at higher speeds. I put about 400 miles on the car in a week and it had already become a non-issue.

The G35 is probably one of the smoothest and quietest cars I've ever driven. Driver and passenger seats are reasonably comfortable and there is ample room for two adults in back. A beverage tray occupies what would be the third middle rear seat. The rear seats fold for access to a fairly spacious trunk.

The instrument panel is elegant like the rest of the car. Controls are mostly pushbutton, well marked, and logically placed. A 225-W Bose stereo with a six-disc CD changer sounds as good as you'd expect. Then there is the impressive list of safety features including front and rear crumple zones, front dual-stage air bags, side-impact air bags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact bags, front seat active head restraints, front seat-belt pretensioners and load limiters, child-seat tether anchors, and a LATCH system.

Our test model had the optional ($2,000) CD-based navigation system with a pop-up, 6.5-in. flat-panel display. My wife and I programmed the system to direct us to the nearest Mexican restaurant, which it dutifully did. Unfortunately the friendly but insistent female voice steered us to a road that didn't exist and eventually to a boarded-up restaurant. The next restaurant on the list was also out of business. Perhaps the CD directories need more frequent updating. I also found the itty-bitty input joystick difficult to use. And the system forces you to agree not to use it while driving each time it boots, a pointless and annoying step because the nav controls automatically shut down when the car is moving. I'd wait on the nav system until the bugs get worked out. That aside, if I were in the market for a sports car, the G35 Sport Coupe would definitely be on the short list.

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