2008 Infiniti G35x AWD Review

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

When launched, the Infiniti Q45 was infinitely more desirable than Lexus's stuffy LS400. Unfortunately, Lexus had already eclipsed Mercedes as the brand recent 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?

When images of the second-gen G35 started leaking onto these here internets, I was taken aback by the hood's flowing cut line. Simply perfect. The rest of the car appeared to be a subtle evolution of the old one. Two years later, I still love the hood line. Everything else is tired. Parked next to the current gen Altima, the Nissan is a much more attractive package. The four-door G is just too mousy and restrained. And the taillights are still too damn big. That said, the seven-spoke, 18" aluminum wheels on our tester are impressive.

Inside, it's an entirely different picture. The Infinitis of yore offered cheap Nissan parts binnage, with navigation screens that looked like convenience store cash machines. No more. In fact, the nav screen is the single most gorgeous part of a decidedly swanky interior. Specifically: the sweeping, organic layout of the fun-to-fondle buttons below the screen.

Gizmos abound: Microfiltering HVAC, rear seat-heater ducts, dual antennas and XM radio. The rest of innards are posh, well thought out and supremely comfortable. Even the (useless) faux-flappy-paddles feel fantastic. Off the hill Audi; there's a new haptic king of the hill (with a prince of an XF also fighting for succession).

If one was forced to stereotype Nissan, one might quote the Ferrari dictum: sell them an engine and throw the rest in for free. Since 1994, the VQ family of V6s has been giving customers throughout the model range (Pathfinder, QX, FX, Altima, Murano, Quest, Z, etc.) more power than the competitors at a (usually) lower price, with plenty of torque.

For all-weather entry-level luxury duty, Nissan mates the 3704 lbs. G35x AWD to the 3.5-liter VQ35HR. The HR part of the alphabet soup stands for "High Revolution"– as in a 7500 rpm redline. The spinning metal pumps-out 306 horses at 6,800 rpm and 268 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm. Should you opt for an all wheel-drive (AWD) G, you opt out of the six-speed manual transmission. Although the G35x' cog-swapper is "only" a five-speed, its seamlessness moots any objection. For both around town and highway duty, the G35x has an entirely useful drivetrain.

Yes but… As you'd expect, the G35x' all wheel-drive mechanicals means it weighs more than the standard four-door. Therefore, it takes 5.9 seconds to hit 60 mph; the rear wheel drive makes the same sprint in 5.6 seconds. I can already hear the keyboard clacks of people writing in that some magazines have clocked a G35 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and the G35x AWD in 5.5. And we'll counter that some magazines employ a 1-foot rolling start to consistently record the lowest (and therefore most attention grabbing) numbers.

But my point stands. The AWD G is slower than the regular G.

Not only is the G35x slower on radar, but, worse, it feels more sluggish to the driver. Again, losing a little (though noticeable) straight line thrust in under six-second world is no biggie. After all, you can make the time back in the corners, right? Uh, no.

I've long considered the FM platform to be one of the marvels of the modern automotive landscape. Forget about the Gs and Zs, you ever driven an FX? There's no way a sedan on stilts should be so nimble and so much fun. Yet it is. Sadly, the good times end with the G35x. The steering feels artificially heavy yet distant at all speeds. The car wants to do anything but turn in. Look, I love AWD performance cars. But the engineers need to have AWD in mind from the start. If not, it's like adding on a basement once a house's foundation has been poured– an expensive afterthought.

While not bad in any glaring way, the G35x AWD left me wanting. Especially after spending time in both the Subaru STI and BMW xDrive35i, two 300+ hp AWD cars designed from the outset to butcher the corners and bloody the straights. With those two machines there aren't slimmer, cheaper, equally powerful variants to remind me of money poorly spent.

I'll grant that if you need to blast across South Dakota during a blizzard, the G35x would be a hell of a comfortable way to go. But for all other applications, stick with the original. Or, yeah you guessed it, a 335i.

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Almatti Almatti on May 03, 2008

    Dear Whatdoiknow1: You are right on with the description and comparison. I have a 2007 G35X Auto w/o NAVI, aside from some small short-comings : side view mirror blinkers, better fog lights that can be turned on without the headlamps, auto adjustable LCD screen (like the Caddy CTS), now with 10K on the clock after 1 year of ownership - the car is awesome overall, especially for the $$$$.

  • Eric de Flon Eric de Flon on Jan 27, 2024

    What Johnny

    failed to mention is that his beloved Bmw 3 series come with fake leather seats and a cramped interior. All base Infiniti G35 have leather seats and more power than a base model the 3 series. Infiniti has significantly larger interior space than a three series Bmw. The bmw 335 Johnny refers to 15 to 20 thousand dollars more than an Infiniti g35!

    Twin turbos that are required for the the anemic Bmw 335 engine to match the power output of a base model Infiniti g35. When the twin Turbos break the engine has to be pulled out of the car to replace the twinturbos at a cost of over $10,000!!!! I bought my 2008 Infiniti G35s with 50000 miles I have since put 110,000 full

    throttle mile on my G35S and it still runs like the day I bought it!!!!! The maintenance I have done in 110,000 miles it is now at 160,000 miles is two radiator hoses and periodic break pads and fluid changes!!! I have owned three Infiniti G 35S over 15 years. Every time I buy new car I test drive a base model BMW 3 series and it’s a huge disappointment. Low power cramped interior and fake leather (vinyl) seats! If all you care about is coasting from one traffic light to the next and gas mileage get a base model BMW 3 series. If you want an incredible driving experience that makes

    you grin from ear every time you sit behind the steering wheel get an Infiniti G35 or G37!!!!

  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
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