By on June 13, 2011

I’m a horrible car guy; I dislike convertibles. It’s not really for the usual reason car buffs dislike going topless, it has nothing to do with the inevitable loss of stiffness or added weight and complexity and everything to do with the reduction in practicality. I realize that a practical convertible is something of an oxymoron, but some are worse than others. It’s no wonder the convertible landscape is littered with has-beens, convertible sales only account for 2% of passenger car sales in North America and premium ‘verts are an even smaller part of the pie. It is therefore no surprise that the G37 convertible is only the second ever Infiniti convertible.

Released back in 2008 as a 2009 model the G37 Convertible was designed from the beginning to be a convertible. Huh? Yes, the G37 convertible is not just a G37 coupé with its top removed, although on the face of things you would be forgiven for thinking so. Although the G37 sedan, coupe and convertible ride on the same Nissan FM platform as everything from the Nissan 350Z to the Infiniti FX and even the GT-R, the Convertibles parts sharing stops at the curvaceous proboscis, overall style and dashboard. The convertible receives a wider track and a modified rear suspension unique to the topless cruiser in addition to the three-part folding hard top designed by Karmann. Fortunately for the public, considerable time was spent making sure the G37 looks as good with the top up as down unlike some topless abominations I could mention.

From the driver’s perspective there is little difference between the convertible and the coupe inside the cabin. The G37’s three-spoke steering wheel, gauge cluster and center stack with 7-inch infotainment/navigation screen and funky rotary-joystick/button tower are all where you expect them to be. Glancing rearwards and the differences become more obvious. The front seats have speakers growing out of the headrests and the B pillar is conspicuously missing. This missing pillar combined with essentially the same seats as the coupe means the seatbelts are mounted to the body of the car looping thru a leather holder fastened with snaps. The belt arrangement is a tad less elegant than some of the competition and makes ingress and egress difficult for rear passengers compared with in-seat safety belts. Speaking of the rear, while leg room is just bearable for a 6-foot rear passenger and a 6-footdriver, head room is severely limited, so keep those foursomes limited to short drives.

Speaking of driving, packed under the curvaceous hood beats he same 3.7L engine as other G variants tuned down slightly by 5HP to 325HP and 267lb-ft. The reduction is apparently due to different exhaust routing, not that 5HP makes much difference when you’re motivating 4,100lbs. Yes, that’s right; the G37 convertible weighs in at over two tons as the folding lid and required structural modifications to the FM platform have added over 450lbs vs the G37 coupe and sedan. Despite the added weight however the convertible seems to retain the vast majority of the driving ability of the coupe due largely to the 52/48 percent weight balance (slightly better than the coupe) and standard 225-width front rubber and 245 out back (the base coupe and sedan have 225s all the way around). As with the coupe and sedan, the convertible routes all 325 horses to the rear wheels via Nissan’s relatively new 7-speed automatic. While the shifts don’t seem quite as fast or as crisp as ZF’s 6-speed, the svelte magnesium paddle shifters mounted to the column rather than the wheel are as close to perfection as it comes and the acompanying rev-matched downshifts are likely to make a few die hard manual fans opt for the ease of the automatic. Unlike many other manual modes, the Nissan setup queues shifts and dispatches them quickly and neatly with zero drama on its way to a measured 5.9 second run to 60.

When the going gets twisty, the G37 shines with handling unquestionably better than the Audi A5 cabriolet and superior poise when pushed compared to the Lexus IS350c. Much like the Lexus however, the Infiniti possess the ride of a GT largely due to the added weight and revised suspension. Still, with road holding ability only a notch below the BMW 335, I’ll take the softer ride any day.

One of the reasons I dislike convertibles (aside from sunstroke in the hot California sun) is the practicality sacrifice. You lose enough cargo room in a soft top, but most hard tops make the sacrifice even more severe. The G37 is no exception to this rule; a 10.3 cu-ft trunk doesn’t sound too bad (considering the tiny 7.4 offered by the G37 coupe) until you see that it drops to an astonishing 1.99 cu-ft with the top down. If two-cubes weren’t small enough, most of that is under a hatch in the trunk floor that can’t really be accessed without raising the top. Literally just two lightweight adult male jackets will fit in the remaining cargo cubby. In comparison, the Volvo C70 offers three-times more schlepping with 6cuft of top-down space (almost equal to the G37 Coupe) and the Volvo’s roof will lift up and out of the way at the press of a button to make access easier. The G37’s main competitor, the 335i convertible, still has room to stow and retrieve a large computer bag with the top down. My prejudice aside, no hard top convertible should ever be thought of as a practical luggage hauler, so on long road trips to a weekend getaway in Napa, your rear seats will act as leather-clad cargo space.

The G37 convertible includes all the heated leather and (optional) red-stained maple wood trim you could ask for. Roofless models also get a slight standard feature boost as compared to the coupe and sedan. Also on the option list you’ll find: cooled thrones, navigation, and Bose audio systems that adapt to the top being up or down. The optional Bose “Open Air Sound System” in our limited edition tester uses 13 speakers including two speakers in each headrest and two 10-inch woofers, and 9.3GB of music storage on the integrated hard drive. As unusual as the headrests may look, they work surprisingly well for the front passengers, but they do make sound for the occasional rear passenger sound strange. (Who cares? They are in the back.) The integrated Bluetooth system even manages to work surprisingly well even with the top down at highway speeds. USB and iPod integration is standard on all G37 convertibles with or without navigation and it works as well as most competitive systems allowing full on-screen access to my iPod and iPhone 4.

The 2011 G37 convertible wears a $45,750 base sticker price and our Limited Edition tester was essentially fully loaded save the radar cruise control with a $58,125 price tag. While the top-end pricing of the G37 may raise eyebrows, the rest of the luxury import convertible market is similarly priced. Compared to the Lexus IS350C which would be the G37’s most direct competition, the IS350C enjoys a larger trunk, but its interior suffers from the same thing the IS350 AWD we reviewed recently: age. From Europe the RWD competition comes in the form of the 335i and the new W212 Mercedes E350 cabriolet. The E350 wears the largest base price in the class at $56,850 and $63,565 sticker comparably equipped. While the Infiniti may not have the snob value the E350’s tri-star exudes, it does come across as the better performance value. The 335i on the other hand has aged extremely well and the torque curve of the turbo-six helps scoot the 335i to 60 faster with a more linear feel than the Infiniti’s naturally aspirated mill. The G37 fights back with a base of $52,650 and a comparably equipped price of $61,250, scoring big value points in most trim levels.

Usually most reviewers seem to stop the comparo after mashing the G37 up against the Germans and the Lexus, but at TTAC we march to a different drummer. Volvo enjoys a similar brand value proposition as Infiniti in the eyes of most American shoppers, both notching below the major players from Germany and Japan. The 227HP C70 convertible is unquestionably slower and less exciting to drive, but with a chic Scandinavian interior and a base price just below 40-large (similarly equipped price of $47,175) and sporting the largest trunk in the group, it’s worth at least a glance from shoppers not interested in drifting while they tan. If you’re looking to import your next convertible from Detroit, the Mustang GT convertible delivers an interesting alternative. Although there is no hard top ‘stang, it will please your aural senses with its 412HP 5.0L V8. Of course cross-shopping is unlikely, but as a comparison, the GT will burn the socks right off the Infiniti.

0-30: 2.3 seconds
0-60: 5.9 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.3 seconds @ 98 MPH

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.


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49 Comments on “Review: 2011 Infiniti G37 Convertible Limited Edition...”


  • avatar
    NotFast

    I’ve owned several convertible and don’t like them either; give me a fixed roof any day!

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    The reason I don’t care to own a convertible is that, having a long torso, I always seem to be staring right at the windshield header when I have the seat positioned to my liking. I have to go to full on gangsta lean to see out of the windshield itself.

  • avatar
    snabster

    I think the first line is “car” guy.

    Also, Ed, I think that ad is causing some major hangups in loading. The TTAC page and this article took about 5 minutes. When I go to the activity monitor is is “pointroll.com”

    And not to bash too much, but one thing I’ve been curious is the lack of Infiniti love on TTAC? Why is that? Overdone? Too brash? they seem like pretty nice cars, and the numerous friends who have one are very happy with them.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I don’t think I would call it a lack of Infiniti love. The G37 performs well in a very small volume segment. The odd thing is that there are such competitive products in a segment that is so small.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Who is buying these $50k-$60k cars? My household income is high enough that Obama would probably call us rich, but we couldn’t afford these things.

      • 0 avatar
        akitadog

        Detroit-Iron,

        The people buying these cars always have been and always will be the ones who pick them up CPO depreciated with 30K miles on them.

        Oh, you mean “who gets them brand new?” Why, the long-term renters, of course.

    • 0 avatar

      snabster: I understand that most of our ads are geo-located, so everyone’s experience will be different. If you or anyone else has issues with load times or ads, please use our contact form to let the ad team know (we on the editorial side of things have no influence on advertising-related matters).

      • 0 avatar
        snabster

        ed: thanks. Once I moved back to Firefox from Safari the problem disappeared. Frustrating, but I understand it out of your control.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        I had continual problems with this site (I’m sure you remember, Ed) using Safari until I downloaded and started using ClickToFlash. Since then, only very sporadic problems, and I highly recommend ClickToFlash.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “Speaking of the rear, while leg room is just bearable for a 6-foot rear passenger and a 6-footdriver, head room is severely limited, so keep those foursomes limited to short drives.”

    Seems to me that the headroom in a convertible is pretty much unlimited; just leave the top down.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    All those pictures in the gallery and not one of the trunk, top up or down? It seems to me that’s something that people who are interested in this car would really like to see, since it got a lot of words in the writeup.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I used to not be a convertible fan, still don’t know if I’d ever purchase one. However, I had a 2011 Mustang convertible as a rental last summer (Sept) in Rapid City, SD. Took it up to Spearfish and all over the Black Hills. Loved it!

    My wife and I (usually just me) talk about what we’d replace the 98 Acura with in a few years. Of course, we talk about a few used midsizers or newer compacts…but I always mention a Mustang. She’d agree if it’s a convertible. Hmmm.

  • avatar
    evan

    This is a good dissection of the convertible ‘issue’ for most people. I currently own three convertibles – ridiculous, yes – and my experience is that most manufacturers simply don’t know how to make a well-rounded convertible.

    This infiniti is another great example of how NOT to do it. The horrible trunk space and weight gain are the first clues, but then try sitting in one as I did at a recent car show… The header rail is simply too fat and low if you’re over 6 feet, and the whole thing just looks kinda’ dumpy. (If your car looks worse as a convertible, uugh.) A few year old MB SL is lightyears ahead of something like this in all respects, and probably won’t depreciate like a Yugo either.

  • avatar
    rehposolihp

    No offense Alex, but proofreading isn’t just something your 11th grade lit teacher wants you to do.

    companying = accompanying
    cope = coupe

    and previously gar = car…but I see now that I’ve logged in that has been fixed.

  • avatar
    nels2727

    The comments regarding the Mustang at the end highlight the obvious fix for Lincoln’s image Ford seems to be ignoring. The G37, 335, and Audi A5/S5 are all rich man’s pony cars and none hold a candle to the mustang with the 5.0. I don’t understand why Ford doesn’t do what it always does…gussie up a Ford and slap a Linoln badge on it. A Mustang with better leather, and higher grade dash (wood/piano black/aluminium)is all that is needed to compete in the segment. Ford already has a refined DOHC V8, and it would give them the opporunity to add the Eco-Boost V6 to the Mustang line-up without upsetting the faithful.

    • 0 avatar
      Japanese Buick

      I think the Mustang is too distinctive a car to be passed off as anything but a Mustang, to even the most blatant badge engineers.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        +1

      • 0 avatar
        KitaIkki

        I think nels2727 meant more than a simple rebadging. The first Mercury Cougar was Mustang based. Later the Lincoln Mark VII was a stretched Fox-body Mustang.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        The 1st gen Mustang shared practically everything except body panels with the Mercury Cougar and Montego and Ford Falcon. Engine offerings may have varied as well, but the base 6 and V8 were the same between the four. I’ve got the Shop Manual for my 68 Mustang and it is for all four cars with subsections for all of their very large number of variations. I agree that an upscale Pony car shouldn’t be out of place as the sporting offering from Lincoln to compete with the sporty cars already offered by their competitors. Then again, the Mustang may be too much of an icon now to rebadge. Kind of like how an actor becomes famous for a part and finds it difficult to impossible to break out of that roll. Once people hear that the new sporty Lincoln shares most of its DNA with Mustang, the Mustang haters won’t even consider it. And, the Mustang lovers? Well, they’re buying a Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      “none hold a candle to the mustang with the 5.0″ …. hmmmm, according to the article both the G37 and the 5.0 Mustang GT take 5.9 seconds to go from 0 to 60.

  • avatar
    stuki

    The 135i is the ‘vert of choice from Bimmer, not the 335. At anything above parade speeds, the rear seats in convertibles are for luggage anyway, not people. And given that, I actually find them much more practical than coupes.

    Surf boards fit well, as does ladders, big boxes and all kinds of awkwardly shaped items. I’ve gone skiing in a 911 convertible (with earmuffs), and it works remarkably well. The 911 coupe, on the other hand, is an absolute joke as far as practicality goes.

    But, leaving long term reliability aside, the BMW 1 is the one to get in this segment; unless you absolutely need some of the higher end gadgets like radar cruise.

    Of course, given how dynamically compromised any of these things are by design, if Honda could just build a Civic Si ‘vert, I’d just as well have one of those, for half the price of the 1, 3, G, E or IS.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I own two convertibles, but would not want one as my only car. So it doesn’t make sense to spend $50K on one unless you are so filthy with lucre that it can be just for fun.

    My Spitfire is a ball around town on a nice day, and my Alfa Spider is actually comfortable enough to take on a weekend trip for two. But niether would be much fun in a Maine winter. Under $5K for a car show quality Spitfire, under $10K for the Alfa, and you can wrench on either one with your eyes closed. And both are actually quite reliable, despite their alleged reputations. Or get a used Miata for under $10K if you have no sense of adventure. These over-priced luxury origami-roof things are just crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      No sense of adventure in a Miata?! While it definitely doesn’t have the I-survived-Lucas-and-stopping-distances-of-a-truck-chic that the old Brits do, it has nearly twice the power, can predictably kick the tail out, parts are cheap and plentiful, the top goes up in 10 seconds and actually keeps you dry, and ridiculous power is just a turbo install away. I just drove my ’99 600 miles yesterday (all with the top down, natch), for no other reason than that I felt like it.

      Of course, I’m just giving you a hard time. I did a few hundred miles in a ’73 Spitfire through the Swiss Alps a few years ago and it was great fun. Perfect car for when you want to be scared stupid without having to pull out to overtake the minivan in front of you. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      @krhodes1
      but neither are safe…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Piff. What’s “safe”. Both are safer than a motorcycle, by far. I prefer to pay attention and avoid accidents rather than surround myself with an M1 tank and blunder into them. And one of the best things about both cars is that the visibility is superb, top up or down, and they are small and HIGHLY manueverable.

        Actually, the Spider does everything the Miata does, with a WHOLE lot more style and a very minimal amount more hassle. And I fit in it, which I do not in an early Miata.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    +1 on Mustangs being too distinctive for even the most shameless rebadging marketing/product design exec to make a Lincoln out of (T-bird perhaps maybe?)

    +1 for the realization that there are dozens of functional browsers that out-perform Apple’s

    But that’s not why I feel compelled to yap. Read the topless-topless Rabbit article this morning, and note the contrast between the Volvo and the 5.0 vert on this article, and I have to posit an age old question, because it bugs me, and I always think about it whenever I see a convertible review:

    Why don’t any major makers make a pillared rag-top coupe? I realize that doesn’t really apply to the G37, or it’s customers, but since we already live in an era with high beltlines and minimal visibility, how could a ragtop with a 5-inch span of A-C pillar steel not be a stouter chasis, cheaper (as in more affordable), safer, and more desirable than the full-bore convertable?

    I’m not talking Del Sol or old-school ‘Vette here, just something that can take a RWD beating, that would have a soft top that doesn’t remove 99% of the trunk, and wouldn’t need an extra 1,000 lbs of steel hidden under the floor.

    Again, doesn’t make sense for a full-blown lux convertible targeted to an Infinity driver, but imagine a GT Mustang or a 911 Cabriolet with viable A-C pillars, but with sky everywhere else?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Pretty clearly, the “folding hardtop” is a . . . um . . . compromised compromise (between a real hardtop and a canvas soft top).

    Canvas softops have their disadvantages to be sure, but excessive weight, complexity (and attendant potential for unreliability) and trunk-filling bulk are not part of the program.

    A convertible (whether a folding hardtop or a canvas soft top) is a second car, no matter what. The pleasure of a soft top is experienced with the top down, not up. I also question the concept of a convertible with two sets of seats. The folks in the rear seats are likely to get pretty well buffeted at more than boulevardier speeds.

  • avatar
    mikey

    In my way of thinking the crappy convertible doesn’t exsist. I love them all, even the imports.

    Yes I said it, the 335i give me a NSFW.?…. yeah….whatever. More in my price range would be an early seventies MGB. Even the Miata hardtop has caught my eye.

    For the sort of coin your talking, the Infiniti, just doesn’t do it for me.

    Something else I noticed though. The high end Euro and Japanese drop tops are rarely seen with the top down. Whats up with that?

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I recently looked at a G37 Convertible, as I usually start shopping a year or so before I actually buy.

    It’s nicely done and all, but I kind of bristle at having to spend an additional $500 to $700 for a spare tire and jack…and the OEM tires aren’t runflats (another thing I tend to avoid).

    The dealer says that “roadside assistance is included,” but that will be of little comfort to me if I were to get a flat late one night on some desolate section of I-44.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    You want a practical convertible? Get a Jeep Wrangler. Goes anywhere, the “Unlimited” model offers decent storage space and it’s the most fun you’ll ever have doing the speed limit or less.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    Has anyone forgotten the Murano cabriolet?

  • avatar
    detlump

    I keep trying!!

  • avatar
    skor

    “The only person who looked good in a 4-seated convertible was Adolf Hitler.”

    — Jeremy Clarkson

  • avatar
    Ronman

    Great convertible review Alex… is it me or the G37 possibly the only car that got better looking with its top up compared to the coupe version…?

  • avatar
    obruni

    I am seconding the wrangler

    particularly the current generation’s hardtop where the front sections can be removed independently. if only the US version had better fuel economy, the 2-door wrangler would be a great all around vehicle.

    Euro spec diesel has been updated for this year….power boost to 190-something HP, and fuel economy in the high 30s.

    Want.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Be it the weight gain (with all of its consequences) or the loss of practicality, you’re always going to have to compromise on things you don’t really want to compromise on with a convertible and the compromise is bound to be bigger if the car ‘didn’t start of as a convertible’.

    I don’t see many cases how one would ever really work as a daily driver, since I think roofless driving is a lot about taking a sunday drive to relax and get away a bit and would you really want to be driving the car you drive to work every day at that point? It becomes a compromise for every purpose. (Sure, there will be those who say they get the feeling they’re on a leisurely drive in their convertible every day they drive to work, but for most cases, I don’t see it).

    So better just accept it’s (has to be) a 2nd or 3rd vehicle, don’t be a fool to order an M3 Convertible when you can order a 335i cause it doesn’t belong on a track anyway, don’t try and go on vacation with it with your kids and oftentimes, I think it’s a good idea to try and buy one that has been designed from the ground up to be roofless (One of few TopGear top tips that make sense to me).

    Personally I think it’ll be a while before I see myself getting one (partly because here in the Netherlands it doesn’t make sense both economically and in terms of weather…or at least those are my excuses and I’m sticking to them).

  • avatar
    wmba

    If this thing has a better ride than the G37x, I can understand the review a bit better. I have access to a G37x, 335iX and a 135i. Can’t stand the ride in the G37x, or the droning highway cruise, and it doesn’t have the all-in-one feeling of the BMWs, not even close, IMO. The ride is simply not as composed in the Infiniti as the BMWs. Try it out on a Canadian or Northern US road with frost heaves, potholes, and cracked pavement ridges. No comparison.

    Plus, check out the “superior workmanship” under the front seats. Dear oh dear. A stapler was a prime piece of tooling in their construction.

    Not impressed.

  • avatar
    Jonathan H.

    This car has great profile with the top up. They should mirror it for the regular coupe for those who don’t want the convertible.

  • avatar
    JJ

    Interesting color on that thing btw. A bit like BMW’s ‘rubinschwarz’. Doesn’t jibe well with the red leather though IMO, but then again, IMO red leather is a non-starter anyway (unless maybe it’s a very dark red in a classic).

  • avatar
    rpn453

    . . . the acompanying rev-matched downshifts are likely to make a few die hard manual fans opt for the ease of the automatic.

    Not likely. Those would be the die easy manual fans!

    Wow, 450 lb difference. That’s a porky car.

    9.3 GB isn’t much. They should get someone to look into how much memory costs these days and then quadruple that value, at least. No big deal though, as long as you can hook up an external hard drive.

  • avatar
    Otterpops

    Convertibles are NOT impractical. They’re the next best thing to a pickup truck (as long as you don’t have a passenger.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    At that price you could just about cross shop it with a Porsche Boxster. $45k verses $48k. A loaded up (loaded down?) Boxster can be twice that, but there are at least a few people out there that don’t really want all that stuff.


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