Infiniti was born out of international politics. When the Japanese government caved to US demands that exports from Japan be limited, Honda decided that it would be more profitable to sell high-profit (read: more expensive) variants of the Accord branded as an Acura Legend than an equal number of Civics. Soon Toyota was rumored to be plotting to do one better with their F1 project and Nissan knew they couldn’t be late to the party. Japan’s third brand’s solution was the 1990 Q45, which looked like a Ford Crown Victoria in drag. Sadly its replacement in 1997 wasn’t much better and the total re-design in 2002 was too little, too late. In the end Nissan canned the Q-ship deciding to make the Infiniti M battle the medium to large imports solo.
Two decades have elapsed since rocks and trees went on TV to announce the birth of a new, proudly Japanese luxury car brand from Nissan. Infiniti somehow survived that car-free campaign and the (baker’s) dozen years of wandering in the desert that followed to finally enjoy some success with the 2003 G35. Sales might be off lately, but in light of the brand’s first 13 years and the entire industry’s last few years the mere act of survival merits a celebration. And what better way to celebrate than with special editions of the model that saved the brand (and that is currently most in need of a bump), recently renamed G37 to reflect an enlarged V6. Of course, some special editions are more special than others. Just how special is the G37 Anniversary Edition?
“We need young, college-educated people like you,” the man said, “because the old way of selling cars is dead and gone. That’s why I was hired — to bring the dealership into the present day.” And with those thoroughly self-deceived words, the new sales manager at “Infiniti Of Columbus” welcomed to me to the team in March of 1994. It was the end of winter in Ohio, but it was just the middle of Infiniti’s long winter of discontent. We had three products. There was a facelifted Q45 which precisely nobody wanted. There was a facelifted G20 which cost nearly as much as a Lexus ES300 while closely resembling a Nissan Sentra inside and out. Note, however, that the G20 shared nothing but the engine with the aforementioned Sentra. On any given month, we would sell two G20s and no Q45s. In fact, during my entire six months’ tenure at the store, we only sold two Q45s, one of them to a salesman who was quitting to go work for Merrill Lynch.
It was the new-for-1993 J30 that kept the lights on and paid our meager draws against commission. The jellybean-shaped, rear-wheel-drive sedan was available as a J30 or J30t. Neither car had any options available: in an amazing reductio ad absurdum of the Japanese export philosophy, the equipment list was the same for every single car that came off the boat. The “t” model added HICAS four-wheel-steering, a rear spoiler that truly spoiled the otherwise interesting design, and some cross-spoke wheels. They were hideously expensive — $37,995 and up in an era where an LS400 could be had for fifty grand or less — and they were both controversial-looking and suspiciously similar to a Nissan Altima at a distance. (Jerry Hirschberg designed ‘em both.)
It didn’t matter. We rarely sold any outright, but more than 20 would leave the lot every month thanks to the Magic Lease.
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With the 2006-2010 Infiniti M, a highly competent luxury performance sedan was hidden beneath utterly forgettable sheetmetal. Before my father bought his 2008 Cadillac CTS I suggested that he also check out the M. One glance at the car’s exterior was all he needed to summarily reject it. Well, for 2011 Infiniti has totally redesigned the M to address this shortcoming. The question now: does the rest of the car measure up to the new come-hither exterior?
Many cars look and drive much like any number of other cars. They’re simply not special in any way. You might as well toss a coin to choose among them. The EX35 is not one of these cars. Infiniti’s compact crossover is unlike anything else in the U.S. market. And you’re either going to love it or, more likely, hate it.
Luxury sport sedans have a lot of boxes to tick. In a segment where high price points have not prevented a a crowd of competitors from gathering, every contender must develop a unique identity that sets it apart from the pack. This means a combination of performance, character, quality and feel that makes the car’s priorities evident, and speaks to the tastes of its well-heeled driver. Instead of picking a specific formula, the M35x tried too hard to check all the boxes, leaving it almost completely without distinguishing characteristics. The upside is an almost utilitarian soullessness, an anonymous competence that defines much of the front-drive luxury market. In this group though, we’re looking for more than that. The Infiniti’s driving experience comes across as a pastiche of other, more memorable cars, and this lack of identity drops the M to last place.
I love technology. I was an early adopter of the microcomputer (8” SS/SD floppies, anyone?). I spent way too much on a TI calculator in college because it could *gasp* do square roots. My car has rain-sensing wipers, self-leveling headlights and power headrests. However, spending a week with an Infiniti FX35 made me wonder if, just as electronic calculators have given us a generation who can’t do simple math in their heads, the technical fripperies in our cars are going to produce a generation of drivers who can’t drive.
Review: 2009 Infiniti FX35 (RWD) Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
[written by TTAC commentator FreedMike] I’ve been shopping these two cars (much to the annoyance of the local BMW and Infiniti dealers, but, hey, it’s MY 40 large, not YOURS, so I’ll be picky if I wanna be). So I’m VERY familiar with them. 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.
Imagine you’re looking for a $41k imported sports sedan. You want something fun to drive. Sayonara Lexus. You were traumatized by an orthodontist. Aloha to Acura’s tin grin TL. You appreciate the difference between having it and flaunting it. Auf wiedersehen BMW and Mercedes. That leaves the Audi A4 3.2 Audi and Infiniti G37 6MT. Oddly enough, I recently sampled those two exact cars. Funny how these things work out.
The BMW 3-Series has been the gold standard for small sports sedans since America had a gold standard. Well, it seems that way. The Ultimate Driving Machine has seen off the Germans (Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4), Americans (Cadillac CTS) and Japanese (Infiniti’s G-force). Repeatedly. Despite the min-Merc’s rep as a credible corner carver, it’s the Infiniti that’s posed the most dangerous threat to the 3′s rep. In fact, Infiniti’s persistence is the automotive equivalent of the posse in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Who are zees guys? These days, the G-Unit chases the 3 with a bigger engine, remapped power delivery and a Bimmer baiting tagline: “Beyond Machine.” We shall see . . .
I lusted after Infiniti’s “Bionic Cheetah” from the moment I saw the renderings in a buff book (remember those?). After climbing behind the wheel of the first-gen FX, I knew that if I ever needed an SUV without cargo space or off-roadabilty, the FX45 was the
truck crossover for me. For one thing, it was carved from a block of sex. For another, the stiff-legged handling was righteous. But there's a new sheriff in high center of gravity town: the FX50. Can Infiniti’s new model match the moves, let alone the lines, of it's much admired (by me anyway) predecessor? Well, lemme tell ya…
2009 Infiniti FX50 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
When launched, the Infiniti Q45 was infinitely more desirable than Lexus's stuffy LS400. Unfortunately, Lexus had already eclipsed Mercedes as the brand Black Sea immigrants asked for by name, and BMWs remained the must-have nouveau riche accessory. Although today's M45 is best-in-class, BMW 5-Series' still runs the schoolyard. Meanwhile, Infiniti (and everybody else) is striving to wrest control of the all-important, profit-laden next class down. So how does Infiniti's AWD 3-Series fighter stack-up?
2008 Infiniti G35x AWD Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
When you make the market’s most un-SUV-like SUV– a large, fast, expensive, thirsty, luggage and mud-aversive vehicle– what do you do for an encore? If you’re Infiniti, you make a virtually identical smaller version that’s slightly more fuel efficient. And how do you convince consumers to buy this $40k FX35 mini-me? You cram it with enough electronics to keep an AWACS crew busy for hours. Strangely, that’s not the best reason to buy an EX35. Hell, it’s not even a good reason. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…
2008 Infiniti EX35 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, Cadillac, Lincoln. Any automaker with dreams of glory in the upscale midsize sports sedan market has tried to beat the BMW 3-Series– and lost. Too big, too small, too crude, too expensive, too front-wheel drive, too ugly, no stick. Of all the contenders, only Infiniti has mounted a credible challenge. Some say the last G35 [more or less] usurped the 3-Series’ throne. And then BMW dropped the turbo bomb: the sublime 330-horse 335i. Infiniti has countered, sending us the normally aspirated, equally-horsed G37 coupe. Does the new car hit the G-spot?
Infiniti G37 Coupe Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
If I worked for Infiniti, I’d spend a lot of my day pissed off. Infiniti G35 equals The Japanese BMW? Man that must rankle. Not as much as G35 equals The Poor Man’s BMW, but more than enough to aggravate auto execs all the way from Yokohama to Boulogne-Billancourt. In fact, I bet there’s a bunch of Infiniti engineers who’ve compared their handiwork to Munich’s motorized meisterstuck and can’t decide whether to commit seppuku or hunt down Bimmer’s boffins and make them eat sushi, if you know what I mean. OK, that’s a bit overly-dramatic, but what the Hell’s a Japanese sports sedan got to do to get a little respect around here?