By on December 20, 2010

As recounted last week, I had been wanting for years to meet up with my best friend and both of our fathers in a pair of Mazda RX-8s for a spirited West Virginia road trip. Finally, the appointed day arrived for the drive from Detroit to West Virginia. The car selected for the task: a 2010 Infiniti G37S six-speed coupe.

I requested the G37S because I’ve been curious about the right-sized rear-drive Infiniti ever since it launched back in 2002, but have never spent much time with the three-pedal variant. Also, while I’d personally need the sedan, I’ve never driven the coupe at all. The drive called for a car that would still be comfortable after 6+ hours, but competent on a challenging mountain road. A perfect opportunity to evaluate the G.

Nissan was not willing to let me drive the car all the way to Virginia and back (my original plan). Do other journalists ask the manufacturer if they can drive the car X miles, or do they realize it’s easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission? Well, I had asked. Fortunately, when I offered to limit the miles to about 800, they relented. The Infiniti would sit in Bridgeport, WV, while we spent a few days in the RX-8s.

Leaving as little as possible to chance—delays happen—I asked Nissan to drop the car off two days early. They dropped the car off on schedule, but when I drove across town that evening to meet up with Edward and Ronnie for the Volt drive, I drove my personal car. After all, every mile spent driving in the Detroit suburbs was a mile I would not be able to drive in Ohio’s fabled Hocking Hills. This was all for the best. All three of us ended up in my car after the event, and even someone of Ronnie’s physical stature would find headroom lacking in the back seat of the G37 coupe.

Friday morning arrives. The temperature is a bit below freezing, and a thin layer of ice coats the coupe. The 2010’s shape is less chiseled than that of the first-gen coupe, but it’s still quite attractive, especially in “Athens blue.” Wheels with an even number of spokes tend to look less dynamic, and I’m generally no fan of multi-spoke designs, but the ten-spoke 19s look great on this car. The G37 coupe’s trunk is about as tight as they come, but I manage to fit a huge duffel containing far more clothes than I could possibly need (packed mindlessly at the last minute), hiking boots, laptop bag, and a box containing a 21.5” LCD panel (I work most efficiently with a pair of full-HD displays).

The road to Ohio is almost unavoidably Interstate. In general the G37 feels like a more refined, more upscale car than a Hyundai Genesis Coupe. As it should, given its significantly higher price. A comfortably cushy driver’s seat includes power adjustable side bolsters to provide lateral support when you need it, and space to relax when you don’t. But the sport-suspended Infiniti doesn’t ride well over expansion joints, tar strips, frost heaves, and the like, reacting with sharp vertical kicks. The more compliant base suspension isn’t available with the stick. Also, road noise on Michigan’s concrete is fairly high. The difference when you cross the state line into Ohio, which employs asphalt, is striking. One nit: the armrest on the driver’s door is too low to use while steering the car. Fuel economy isn’t bad: about 25.4 MPG while averaging 75 MPH.

Usually I hop onto the Ohio Turnpike southeast of Toledo, but wanting to employ the Interstate as little as possible head east on US 20 instead. US 20 is as straight and level as the Interstate—we are in northern Ohio—but though four lanes wide is much more a part of the surrounding terrain, and so (relatively) more interesting to drive. The small towns along the way provide some interesting sights—like the “Korean Karate” studio next to the American Legion post and canteen in Bellevue. You can see these easily: the Infiniti’s cowl is relatively low and its A-pillars are blessedly thin by current standards. The obvious downsides of towns: low speed limits and traffic lights. The latter highlight the heaviness of the Infiniti’s clutch. Farm equipment dealers seem more common than car dealers. I briefly stop at one just west of Norwalk, but with places to go and people to see do not request a test drive. Maybe next time. Aided by the 55 MPH speed limit, the Infiniti averages 27.5 MPG on US 20.

At Norwalk I exit onto US 250, which atypically for a US highway runs diagonally, in this case southeast through Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. This generally two-lane road is the shortest route to where I’m going, but not the most entertaining, at least not in Ohio. So after twenty miles I hop onto OH 302, a more intimate road that includes the trip’s first entertaining hills and curves. There aren’t many, but they provide a taste of what lies ahead. Though no sports car, the Infiniti handles 302 with aplomb. I don’t feel at one with the machine, but the meatiness of the coupe’s steering and composure of its chassis are reassuring. With the fun up, fuel economy drops into the low 20s. A few miles east of Lattasburg I pass a horse-drawn cart—the Infiniti’s 330 horses easily outpace the cart’s one. We’re now in Amish country.

Which makes the VW dealer on the western outskirts of Wooster, where I rejoin 250, a bit of a shock. On the other side of the small city I pass a “Volvos & More,” with a few pre-Ford Swedes parked out front. I’m intrigued by the “& More,” but don’t stop to investigate. This stretch of US 250 is quite boring and I just want to get through it. After picking up I77 for a few miles I exit onto US 800 just south of Uhrichsville. After 230 miles the real fun can finally begin.

Well, not quite. Back during a college trip to Jamaica some friends bought batch after batch of ‘shrooms. With each batch they’d sit around the table and ask one another, “Feel anything yet?” “I think so…maybe…no.” My best friend Trey (also there) and I didn’t take part, but we certainly enjoyed spectating.

Well, this time I’m the one attempting to feel something, side bolsters cranked tight and seatback adjusted upright in anticipation. For the first 15 miles or so on 800 each curve made me think I had finally reached the promised land, only to exit into another long, boring straight. But the road does become increasingly curvy and hilly, and by Freeport (Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco!) you’re definitely feeling it. And, in the G37, it feels good.

Sounds good, too. The 3.7-liter “VQ” V6 isn’t the most refined engine, but its moderately throaty exhaust is appropriate for this car on this road. Given the big six’s plump, flexible midrange, there’s no need to venture near the redline unless you want to vastly exceed the speed limit. Even so, fuel economy averages 18.5 on OH 800.

Storied OH 26 more-or-less parallels OH 800, running a few miles to the east. But I’m planning to take 26 on my return trip, so I stick to 800 to see how it compares. Bad move. The seven miles between Barnesville and Somerton aren’t all that curvy, but are apparently too curvy to include even a single passing zone. I’m stuck behind a Ford Escort and a Chrysler minivan.

Suggestion for navigation system manufacturers: indicate the location of passing zones and/or the distance to the next one. A further suggestion for the supplier of the Infiniti’s nav system: provide an option to view minor roads even when zoomed out. As it is, zoom in far enough to view minor roads and you can’t see enough of them to learn where they go.

I reach Woodsfield, where 800 and 26 cross. But, given the need to keep the total miles near 800, I take neither. Instead, I head east on OH 78, which proves a thoroughly boring road. Luckily I’m only on it for about ten minutes before turning onto OH 536, which runs through barely populated Round Bottom and proves a match for the best roads I’ve ever driven. For ten miles this zero-traffic narrow two-laner hits curve after curve and hill after hill. My notes sum it up this way: “Awesome.”

Work the VQ, and it drinks to the tune of 16 MPG. The manual shifter, though pleasantly hefty and not overly long of throw, isn’t as willing a partner. Fourth can be especially hard to find in a hurry. The G37 initially understeers, but just a touch of throttle balances the chassis, and the car feels planted throughout, with the sport suspension as appreciated now as it was unappreciated on I75. The six-speed coupe seems less prone to excessive, unprogressive throttle-induced oversteer than the two-pedal G37 sedan I reviewed last July, and its stability control doesn’t cut in as early or as often (when I have it enabled). Also appreciated: the lateral support provided by the driver’s seat, with a tighter hug from the backrest and cushion bolsters always just a tap on a hard-to-reach switches away. I love this feature (the adjustability, not the poorly located switches) and cannot fathom why BMW seems to be phasing it out.

Well, you know what they say about all good things, and 536 terminates at the Ohio River. Six hours and 307 miles into my trip I cross into New Martinsville, West Virginia.

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

Follow Michael’s journey in part three of this piece here.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive and reliability data

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30 Comments on “Review: 2010 Infiniti G37S (A Road Trip Five Years In The Making, Part Two)...”

  • avatar

    The southeast corner of Ohio has some great roads and a trip out there is well worth it for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts.

  • avatar

    How do the G37S and RX8 stack up to each other in your trip?

  • avatar

    Now… if I could just find a used blue G35 like your tester for my wife. Seems they are all either: automatics (hell no!), sliver, white or black. Sure a few reds one pop up ever now and then, but the exhaust tips and rims make me worry that they have driven hard… too hard. These cars look great in blue. Oh and thanks for the fuel economy numbers.

    • 0 avatar

      JMII: Mine’s a red 08 Sport 6MT, and it’s on Swapalease. I’ve accepted a job overseas starting in Feb. and am looking to transfer. Sorry if this is the wrong place to be posting this, didn’t see a way to send a PM.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Nice real world review.  Every review of an Infiniti seems to end with “almost a BMW.”  Glad this one didn’t.

  • avatar

    536 in Ohio is an AMAZING road.  Unfortunately, last time I was on 536, the frost heaves were getting a little rough for “spirited” rides.  That area of Ohio and the WV panhandle is always my weekend destination on my bike.  It’s impossible to make a wrong turn in that area because almost all of the roads are great.  Make sure you hit 9, 147, 145, 148 and 250 in WV next time you are in the area. 

    • 0 avatar

      SR 536 was repaved about four years ago. The first time I was on it I remember thinking that it was good that it was so heaved; otherwise the trees would be full of sportscars and motorcycles. This part of the world invented the blue-sky corner and perfected the sharp curve just under the blind rise.
      You have to catch the good roads pretty soon after repaving in this part of the world. 536 is already starting to heave up again.  There are four or five similar roads nearby, though.
      I lead motorcycle tours in this part of the world. Many folks have trouble believing that the state that gave us the Ohio Turnpike and I-75 could also host some of the best roads in the country. I enjoy showing them otherwise.

  • avatar

    If you enjoyed OH-536, it’s really too bad you didn’t get to drive the G37 down in southeastern WV.  US-50 east of Bridgeport has some pretty good sections, but there are some truly epic mountain roads down in Monongahela NF, Washington & Jefferson NFs, and around Monterey, VA.

  • avatar

    Awesome review.

  • avatar

    Nice review.  I test drove a used G35S sedan a few months ago and generally liked it, but the lack of steering feedback bothered me.  I also like taking trips and avoiding Interstates.  Last year I had a couple of days and decided to take local highways and circle around Lake Erie.  There wasn’t much in the way of curving roads, but driving through a windmill-dotted landscape was pretty cool.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Summer tires or all-seasons, and did that affect your driving style?

  • avatar

    So you liked the car overall?
    A few points…you didn’t feel “as one” with the car.  I would find this a problem with testing automobiles because when purchasing a new car, I typically suffer buyers remorse.  I find it can take me 3 months to “bond” with my new wheels;  to be at a place where you can predict its moves in any situation and feel at home behind the wheel.
    You say the 3.7 is quick but not refined, and you’re correct.  I once had an ’03 Maxima with the 3.5 and it was smooth, silent, and quick.  Too bad while upping the horses they went backward in that regard.
    Coincidentally, I am currently in the middle of a 10 day rental of an M35. This car is a kick to drive on the freeway. It is firmly planted, tight, fast and quiet on asphalt.  But some of these same characteristics can make city driving a chore.  It’s steering feels heavy and the suspension stiff over road imperfections.
    I want to like Infiniti because I’m a big Nissan fan…not there yet.
    (what I really want is a RWD Maxima with a 6 spd. The G is too small)

    • 0 avatar

      The more I like the car, the quicker I bond.  With my last two vehicle purchases I knew within a few minutes of driving that they were right for me.  But I think I’d bond with almost anything given enough time.
      I also bonded with a 1990 Maxima almost instantly. Great car.

  • avatar

    Karesh, you scare me sometimes. Why? I once had a Classic Red Protege 5, thought a Taurus X would be perfect for the wife and kids, and have had a few experiences on Ohio 536, as I grew up just north of where it terminates at the Ohio River. The last picture in the main articles “536curves-6” or something or other, marks the spot where I first remember getting the bejeezus scared out of me as a young driver. Came into that curve a bit too hot (which is probably to say, at 35) and saw my then short life pass before my eyes. Fortunately, as you noted, the odds of encountering oncoming traffic are slim, so I was able to use both lanes to save my bacon.
    You missed a lot of the best sections of the roads you named. 250 doesn’t get decent until south of the 250/800 split and especially into WV, 78 is best on the west side of I-77.
    Incidentally I now also live in SE Michigan. Which has virtually killed my passion for spirited driving.
    Now we just need a Curbside Classics, Monroe County, Ohio edition.

  • avatar

    Oh man, 250 from the WV line to Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway is good.  I’ve only been on it once, on a January Thaw drive to the WV border and back. (I live in Charlottesville.) No traffic to speak of either.  Because of the amazing mountain passes and the almost non-existent traffic, I’d put it on par with the Tail of the Dragon.
    I sold my fun car late in the summer and have just replaced it recently.  I can’t wait to get back up that way, and into WV this time.  Enjoy the trip.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Love the fender bulge view from the driver’s seat.  Classy.

  • avatar

    I agree with the person who said it’s nice to get the gas mileage figures. And the refinement of the engine is important to me. After 11 years with a Saturn, I’m never going to own a car with an unrefined engine again. But I would have liked to hear about the visibility. I would hate living with a car with lousy visibility.

    I loved all the photos of the midwest, a part of the country I rarely visit. Loved the farm implements!

  • avatar

    @David Holzman:
    Having lived with an 08 coupe Sport 6MT for almost 21 months in mid-city LA/Hollywood, I think visibility is great – no discernible difference from the G sedan. This is an important issue for me as well, and part of why I chose the G over the 370Z. The new Camaro is a non-starter for me for that reason (among many others).
    I had read that the car’s Achilles heel is its blind spots, but I haven’t found them to be a big problem. At least not any more so than the ones in my previous car, an 04 TSX.
    Don’t get me wrong, you won’t look out of this car’s greenhouse and think you’re in a 2002, but for how sleek it looks and how low its center of gravity feels, visibility doesn’t seem as though it’s overly compromised. In that regard I have no problem with it as a daily driver in some of the worst stop and go/cut and thrust traffic in the country.

  • avatar

    Wow, I have one just like that! – the combine not the car, unfortunately.
    If you’re serious about a test drive, we’re not far from Detroit.  If not, just imagine driving a giant lawnmower and you’ve pretty much got the experience summed up.

  • avatar

    My buddy test drove one of these when considering a G37 sedan (they didn’t have a manual sedan available to drive).  His gripes were similar to some of yours: overly firm sport suspension, heavy and imprecise shifter, and heavy clutch.  In the end, the G37 was eliminated due to lack of AWD anyway.
    I still prefer the look of the previous gen G coupe.

  • avatar

    I would replace the Celica with this car in a minute, if it weren’t for the Canadian sticker shock. A G37 6MT, equipped the way I’d want it, on the US Infiniti site is $42,175 in Maine, the nearest state to where I live. High, but tolerable considering what I get for the money. Here in Nova Scotia, the same car will cost me $56,872. Now, about half of that differences is taxes, but still…that’s 50% of what I paid for my house! Yes, housing is incredibly cheap here…win some, lose some I guess.

    • 0 avatar

      If you think the gouging on Infiniti is bad, witness what a Z costs relative to the US.  The RX-8 and S2000 are equally horrific, and Subaru’s entirely lineup is like this.  All the higher-sticker cars are priced badly in Canada**
      When I bought my first new car, I was really keen on the 350Z: US magazines raved about the price-per-performance ratio, it was easily modifiable, pretty reliable and—this was important—if you were tall it was comfortable.  Imagine my shock when the $30K car turned out to cost more like $60K.
      What happens is that, when the Canadian dollar drops, MSRPs and F+PDI go up.  But when the dollar goes up, these don’t go down because the addiction to margin is too strong, so they leave them there and, hell, even raise them the next time the dollar goes down.  Ideally they should just adjust F+PDI to compensate for currency fluctuation, but the manufacturers have already run Canadian F+PDI into the stratosphere.
      ** Porsche cut something like 10-25% of their MSRPs when the dollars approached parity.  It was so bad that, if you paid cash, you could get a Porsche at nearly half-price in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      MidLifeCelica:  Where in Nova Scotia are you?  That’s where I live as well.  Judging from your stated housing price, I’m going to guess down in the valley or up in Cape Breton.  Wouldn’t be able to get much house in the $100K range where I live.
      psarhjinian:  With a purchased new RX-8 sitting in my garage, and a couple of Subaru’s in the driveway for the winter, I can only nod my head in sad agreement with your statement.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a fun trip so far.

    A buddy and I made a similar trip a few years back in a 1996 911TT – it was awesome!  We flew to Baltimore to pick up the car, and drove it back through the twistiest roads we could find in Western MD, Northern WV and SE Ohio.  The combination of all that power, AWD and all those hills and curves was intoxicating.  The scenery offered more photo opportunities than anyone could count.  Here’s a low-res version of one of the best ones:

    Looking forward to reading the rest.

  • avatar

    Previous G35 Coupes that I have driven with the manual transmission have suffered from a grabby clutch with a too-high engagement point.  Michael, you mention in your review that the clutch feel is heavy.  Has the G37 improved the grabbiness issue, or is it still the same as what I experienced in the earlier G35 cars that I drove?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t recall the clutch feeling grabby, but it has been nearly two months. Nissan has claimed improvements a few times in past years.
      I did drive a manual transmission sedan around 2006 or so, and recall the shifter and clutch–especially the clutch–being so bad that I wasn’t sure I could live with them. Those in the 2010 coupe certainly weren’t that bad–I could easily live with them.

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