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2009 Infiniti G37S Hardtop Convertible Review & Test Drive

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‘LETTING THE SHINE IN 12 MONTHS A YEAR’

When the road calls, the Infiniti G has always been quick to answer.  Since its introduction in 2002, the G has been known for delivering the most rewarding combination of fluid design and exhilarating performance in its entry-level luxury segment.  I was so enthralled with the car when I first tested it in 2002 that I drove straight to Monument Valley, Utah, some 400 miles away.

Now in 2009 the Infiniti brand brings to market wide-open exhilaration of wide-open motoring, its first convertible, the 2009 G37 and G37S.

The G convertible retains the Infiniti’s G’s sporty long cabin/short trunk proportions through the use of a three-piece steel hardtop, providing a ‘dual beauty’, that rare occurrence when a convertible looks as good with the top up or down.

The thoroughly modern G convertible’s exciting and comfortable interior includes standard leather-appointed seating, an optional Bose Open Air Sound system that dynamically changes equalization based on outside noise, top position, and vehicle speed. An Adaptive Dual Zone climate control system adjusts fan speed in accordance to top position and vehicle speed, and available Climate-Controlled seats that provide both heating and cooling functions, and this is just the start of the luxury, performance, high-tech and safety features standard and available in the all-new G convertible.

The G convertible maintains a coupe-like silhouette with the top up through the use of a special three-piece ‘clamshell’ retractable hardtop, which allows for use of a shorter rear overhang and low trunk lid.  A drawback to this design is the miniscule amount of trunk space with the top down, just 1.99cu.ft. of storage space.  That’s when the rear seats come in handy.  The fully automatic top opening/closing sequence takes about 30sec. with the open/close toggle switch conveniently located on the center console.

Along with its stunning G Coupe-like proportions, the G convertible offers signature Infiniti styling cues such as flowing front fender curves, a wave-style aluminum hood, unique front fascia with double-arch grille and L-shaped HID bi-functional xenon headlights with integrated fog lamps.

The G37 convertible Sport 6MT and G37 convertible with the sport package include a unique front fascia/bumper design.  In the rear, the taillights are unique to the

G convertible, incorporating an inner ‘circle of light’, for added style.  The chrome rear trunk finisher incorporates both an integral high-mount stoplight and the small camera for the standard Rearview Monitor System.  A full-perimeter spoiler is mounted to the edge of the trunk lid, and down below are 4-in. wide, twin-exhaust pipes nicely spread out below the bumper.  From the side are flared front fenders, steeply raked windshield A-pillar and rear C-pillar, wide doors and deep lower side extensions that lower the stance and enhance handling capability.

The G convertible is offered with Infiniti’s advanced ‘self-healing’ scratch shield paint in eight exterior colors-vibrant red, Athens blue, liquid platinum, platinum graphite, black obsidian, moonlight white and two G convertible-exclusive colors, midnight garnet and Pacific sky.

With the top up, the G convertible looks like it was carved from a solid piece of metal hiding the fact that when the top is down the car takes on another styling personality and revealing its beautiful, equally dramatic interior design and features that match the best of the competition.

The interior design combines sophistication, craftsmanship and thoughtfulness with unique available systems created to enhance your driving pleasure and excitement either with the top open or closed.  The driver-oriented cockpit features an Infiniti signature ‘double-wave’ instrument panel design with Infiniti electroluminescent gauges with white-and-violet illumination, integrated multi-function information drive computer display and analog Infiniti clock.  The double-hand stitched leather covered, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel is designed for maximum comfort and usability, with standard audio and cruise controls.  It feels perfect in your hands.  Genuine magnesium paddle shifters are available for the 7-speed automatic transmission with the sport package.

Special Silk Obi aluminum interior trim, inspired by fine Japanese silk and unique to the G convertible Sport and is located across the instrument panel, on the center console and on the door panels.  It really gives out a sheen unlike regular aluminum trim.

The regular G convertible gets genuine African Rosewood trim.  Leather-appointed seating is standard and comes in Graphic, Wheat or Stone.

Heated 12-way power driver-8-way front passenger seats are standard, with climate controlled seats, heating and cooling functions) are available as part of the Premium Package.  The G37 Sport 6MT and G37 Sport Package convertibles come with special sport-styled front seats with manual thigh extension and driver’s power thigh, lumbar control, and torso support-along with sport stitching for the front seats and steering wheel, high-grip aluminum pedals and foot rest and, with the 7-speed automatic, magnesium paddle shifters.  These sport seats are fantastic, comfortable and very supportive, all power adjustable.  A power walk-in device with position memory provides easy access to the 2nd row seats (the front seats move forward automatically at the touch of a button to allow passengers into the rear seats).  An available rear wind deflector helps reduce wind turbulence when the top is down.  All switches, dials and buttons are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.

The long list of comfort and convenience features includes standard Infiniti Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition and an Adaptive Dual Zone Climate Control system featuring an advanced AC system that adjusts to provide optimal comfort with the top up or down.

Two audio systems are available, starting with a standard 6-speaker AM-FM-6CD system with MP3 playback capability, Radio Data System, and center console-mounted auxiliary input, 7in. color display and XM satellite radio.  A second system is the 13-speaker Infiniti Bose Open-Air Sound system combining a 24-bit 96Hz Burr Brown Digital Analog Converter (DAC) with AudioPilot 2.0 with microphones that automatically optimizes EQ settings for open/closed top positions.  The system’s special Bose Front Seat Personal Speakers, mounted in the front seat head restraints, enable superior front audio quality regardless of the top position.  An interface system for iPod is also included with this system.  Other standard features inside include a self-dimming mirror, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, electronic cruise-control, variable intermittent wipers/washers, rear window defroster with timer, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, power windows/door locks with all express up/down, front and rear carpeted floor mats.  Other options available include a Bluetooth Hands-free Phone system, Infiniti Navigation system with XM NavTraffic with Real-Time Traffic information, Infiniti Voice Recognition for navigation, audio, and climate control functions and a 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive with Compact Flash slot.

You are living large behind the wheel in the G37 Sport with all the sportiness, comfort, luxury and convenience features right at your fingertips.

What’s underneath the skin, out of sight, is what will guide you on your way, whether moderately or expressing your current desires for excitement and fun.

Like the G Coupe and G Sedan, the new G convertible’s outstanding dynamic performance credentials start with a combination of its advanced FM platform and award-winning V6 engine.  Every G convertible comes equipped with a standard 3.7 liter V6 wit VVEL rated at 325hp and 267lb.ft. of toque.

The VVEL system combines hydraulic-controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side, helping to improve not only performance and response but also emissions and fuel efficiency.  It also provides cleaner emissions by allowing for quicker warm-up of the catalyst and by stabilizing combustion when the engine is cool.

Wow, this new high-output V6 is high-revving and smooth, just slip the tranny in first and the G convertible takes off like a rocket.  You can hit 60mph from a standstill in just 5.7sec.

I enjoyed working the lightweight, smooth-shifting, close-ratio 6-speed manual, but you can option for the electronically controlled 7-speed automatic with manual mode, downshift rev matching, Drive Sport (DS) mode and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) that allows for quicker shifts in sporty driving situations and available genuine magnesium paddle shifters.

The G convertible’s response handling and exceptional ride performance is provided by its advanced FM (Front Mid-ship) platform design, which optimizes front/rear weight balance and creates a rigid, solid, stable foundation for the 4-wheel independent suspension.  For a heavy hardtop convertible, the ride was like riding on rails, that’s how well the ‘racecar’ type suspension and big 19X8 and 19X9in. wheels and tires acted during sharp cornering times.

The front suspension is an independent double-wishbone design, with a single pivot lower wishbone and a long upper link.  The multi-link rear suspension separates the Dual Flow Path gas-charged shock absorbers and springs, locating the shock absorber inline with the wheel center.  Front and rear setups have stabilizer bars to keep lean out to a very minimum.

I loved the responsive steering provided by a vehicle-speed-sensing rack & pinion system with a sport-tuned steering gear in the G37 Sport MT and Sport Package.  Response to my inputs was almost instantaneous, just like when I’m behind the wheel of a sports car or sports sedan.  Very quick and very accurate, it shot my confidence way up to take it to its limits of adhesion when cornering.

To keep you on your path safely is Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with cancel switch, to let you slide out a little, and Traction Control (TC) to help you maintain control on slick or wet pavement.

Braking performance is also outstanding on the G37 Sport 6MT and Sport Package with 4-wheel vented discs with 4-channel, 4-sensor ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.  Up front are 14in. rotors and the rear measure 13.8in.  Aluminum four-piston calipers grab the front while aluminum 2-piston calipers grab the rear discs.  They are each embossed with Infiniti lettering.  My G37 Sport 6MT also came with high-friction brake pads to add further to the overall excellent braking dynamics of the car.

You ride on a choice of two tire/wheel sizes; a Split 5-spoke 18X8in. aluminum alloy wheel with Dunlop SP Sport MAXX A1-A 225/50R18in. front and P245/45R18in. rear all-season tires come standard, while the G37 convertible Sport MT and Sport Package utilizes special 19X8in. cast aluminum-alloy wheels up front with Bridgestone Potenza REO50A high-performance tires, and 19X9in. wheels wrapped with Bridgestone Potenza 245/45R19in. tires in the rear.  These magnificent tires really grip the pavement to put the power down and give an impressive smooth ride over poorly paved surfaces.

Also available is Infiniti’s Intelligent Cruise Control with Preview Braking, which assists in maintaining a consistent following distance from the vehicle ahead.  It also identifies sudden braking situations with laser sensors to determine distance and related speed of the vehicle ahead in the same lane and ‘pre-pressurizes’ the brake assist system before you even step on the brake pedal.

The all-new G37 convertible is one of the safest with standard advanced airbag system with dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt and occupant classification sensor, door-mounted curtain side-impact airbags for driver/front passenger, front-seat mounted side-impact airbags, and front seat active head restraints.  Three-point front seat belts have load-limiters and pretensioners. The rear seat includes fixed head restraints with rear pop-up bars and three-point safety belts.  The G37 convertible also features reinforced front side members, front pillars and body sills.

It seems like all of the major automakers are bring to market hardtop convertibles, even on the low end from Pontiac, Mazda and Volkswagen.  You have a wide choice in the entry level luxury sport segment and if you are looking to purchase a model from the growing segment, be sure to check out the all-new 2009 G37 from Infiniti.  Its one of the best!

COPYRIGHT:2009:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $43,900 As-Tested $49,500
Type: Midsize Convertible
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Subcompact Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 183.3 in.
Width: 72.9 in.
Height: 55.1 in.
Wheel Base: 112.2 in.
Curb Weight: 4110 lbs.
Gross Weight: 5079 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 39.3 in.
Front Hip Room: 53.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 53.6 in.
Rear Head Room: 34.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 45.7 in.
Rear Hip Room: 41.6 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.8 in.
Rear Leg Room: 27.1 in.
Luggage Capacity: 10.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 10 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 4

Performance Data

Number of Cylinders: 6
Engine Size: 3.7 liters
Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 325 hp
Max Horsepower: 7000 rpm
Torque: 267 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 5200 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 20 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 16 mpg / 24 mpg / 19 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 320 mi. / 480 mi. / 380 mi.

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