[Written by TTAC commentator FreedMike] Much to the annoyance of the local BMW and Infiniti dealers, I’ve been shopping these two cars. But, hey, it’s MY 40 large, not YOURS. So I’ll be picky if I wanna be). By now, I’m VERY familiar with the two machines. I don’t know why TTAC’s comparison was between the 324-hp G37 and a 328 that gives up about 100 hp. The G37 will eat the 328 for lunch. The real comparison is between the G37 and the 335.
From the outside, both cars look great, with the Infiniti wearing sleeker duds. The BMW has that classic 3-Series proportioning that wears so well over time. Either car makes a strong style statement, so you can chalk this one up to personal preference.
The Bimmer’s interior boasts a slightly higher-quality tactile feel, while the Infiniti’s cabin offers more impressive styling (particularly if you nix the aluminum trim for African rosewood). The Infiniti has an LCD display mounted high on the dashboard that displays the radio, climate controls and (optional) navigation. When equipped with navigation, the BMW’s high-mounted LCD display looks like it’s been lumped on top of the dashboard as an afterthought.
The BMW 335’s lower ride height makes ingress and egress harder. Once inside, both the Infiniti and BMW offer supportive chairs (sports seats optional). The Infiniti G37 rides slightly higher so there is actual foot room in back; if you sit low in the BMW, your back seat passengers will have NO foot room whatsoever.
The 335’s twin turbo motor is an absolute gem: eager off the line, strong throughout the power band and wonderful to listen to at any speed. The G37’s naturally aspirated V-6 is similarly strong, if a bit more throaty and assertive-sounding; think of the G37 as espresso and the 335 as frappé.
Both cars have well-sorted automatic transmissions with a manual shift feature. The G37’s new seven-speed transmission offers more cogs, The sport model’s paddle shifters are finely crafted in magnesium, with a grippy rubber backing. They’re big and easy to reach from the wheel, and operate with a marvelously precise feel. The BMW’s paddle shift system works well, but I found myself using the Infiniti’s paddles more often.
In terms of driving dynamics, the BMW is near perfect, but the Infiniti’s not far off. If you don’t drive on the knife-edge of adhesion, you won’t feel much of a difference. But it’s there.
The 335 is the more refined ride, but not by much. It’s also subjectively quicker. In reality, the two cars are about evenly matched. Both are highly capable back-road maulers, with accurate steering, strong brakes and solid structures. The BMW’s almost telepathic steering gives it an edge over the Infiniti in this category. Anyone who drives at less than nine-tenths won’t notice much of a difference.
The BMW is the better car, but the differences are subjective and very subtle. And the superiority comes at a price.
A loaded G37X with the sport package runs $42 grand. A similarly equipped 335Xi (navigation, leather, top-notch sound system, etc) is $52 grand. You can get a base 335 for the same price as the G37, but it comes with a tinny-sounding sound system with the world’s worst display (it’s cryptic, with a cheap-looking red LCD display that disappears completely if you wear polarized sunglasses).
I can live without navigation, but other equipment choices are harder to justify at a matching price point, such as the manual steering wheel adjuster (as opposed to the Infiniti’s electrically-adjusted steering column, which glides up and out of the way when you get out of the car). The Bimmer’s iPod interface is a $450 option—a standard feature on an $18K Toyota Corolla.
But the hardest cheap-out to justify on the base 335: the drab-looking vinyl seats, which offer neither heating nor lumbar support, and emit a nasty chemical odor to boot. The effect is far more pronounced on cars with tan interiors. Even the charcoal vinyl interior, which does a decent leather imitation, has a nasty smell. How BMW has the chutzpah to charge over $40K for a car with vinyl seats is beyond me.
Still, the 335 offers a sublime driving experience, and the cachet of the roundel. The Infiniti offers a more a more strongly-flavored (some would say less refined) drive. Subjectively, it’s not quite up to the standard of the BMW.
Removing price from the equation, the BMW wins. However, given the price difference between similarly equipped models, the Infiniti triumphs, particularly against the out-muscled 328. That’s doubly true if you value the latest and greatest gizmos: standard in the Infiniti for the same money as a base 3-Series.
Overall, I’d give the nod to the Infiniti G37 over the BMW 335 based on superior value. And unless you’re a die-hard BMW fan, the G37’s a no-brainer over the 328.