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Test Drive: Infiniti G37 Coupe

After seeing Liz’s review of the Infiniti G37 convertible, I was excited to spend a week in the G37 coupe – until I saw that the press loaner had a manual transmission.

I love manual transmissions. I’ve driven them for years, and having the extra bit of control that a manual gives a driver is something I appreciate. Plus, it’s easy to get a bit bored by driving, and a manual spices up even the most mundane grocery run. Where I don’t love manuals is in traffic, especially Washington, D.C. traffic (which just got rated the worst in the nation). My commute in D.C. involves crawling up three steep ramps. It’s exactly the kind of driving that makes drivers with manuals have left legs carved from granite and soft, fleshy right legs.

The test G37 Sport Coupe, which stickered at $43,275, had everything else to make a commute pass quickly. The 330-horsepower engine was willing and able. I got comfortable in no time with the 12-way power driver’s seat. The iPod interface and Bluetooth meshed easily with my phone and the stereo sounded great. And, once traffic died, the car was a blast to drive.

The G37 uses what Infiniti calls a front mid-ship design: the engine is mounted behind the front axle.  While it’s not a true mid-mounted engine, it does mean the car is more balanced than if the engine’s weight is pushed even partially ahead of the front axle. And boy, can you tell. Though the speed-sensitive steering felt a little artificial for my taste, the G37 was always planted, no matter how hard I pushed it. In those late-night, traffic-free runs around Northern Virginia, I was glad to have the manual to up the sport level even more.

Compared with cars like the BMW 3-Series Coupe and Audi A5, the G37 coupe is a steal. The engine in the G37 beats the engine in the BMW 335is coupe by 10 horsepower. At the same time, the Infiniti’s sticker beats the sticker on the 335is by more than $8,000, and that’s before you start adding options like navigation to the 335is. The A5 Coupe starts at $37,100 and comes with standard all-wheel drive, but if you want Bluetooth and navigation, it will run you $43,875, and the interior tech in the A5 is a lot harder to use than the tech in the G coupe. There’s also that little matter of engine power. The engine in the A5 only makes 211 horsepower.

Sure, the heavy clutch in the G37 Sport Coupe was a literal pain on the way to and from work, but given how the G outperforms and undercuts the competition, it was completely worth it.

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