When you clear away the caveats, the G37 convertible is an expensive 3-series cabrio rival made in Japan. And for all the smoke and mirrors deployed by Nissan in the cause of inventing an upmarket brand for Europe with ambitions of Rolls-like exclusivity, it can only be judged against what’s out there. And what’s out there is the 3-series chop-top.
So, is the new 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible a 3-series beater?
No. For a start it costs £41,900, rising to £43,500 in this GT Premium trim with seven-speed auto, ‘intelligent’ cruise control and red leather chairs (two of which are too small to sit in). For that you can have a 335i M Sport convertible and a couple of grand in change. But more importantly the Infiniti just doesn’t feel premium enough. The doors lack thunkiness, the dash plastics horribly let down the nice leather and there’s way too much road noise when you crank it up.
Also, the central controller buttons are inexplicably sloped away from your fingers, sitting almost horizontally up on the centre console near the nav screen. A right pain to use. And the starter button, though beautifully damped, is hidden behind the steering wheel’s right spoke. Infuriatingly poor design.
Mere details! What’s the Infiniti G37 Convertible like to drive?
Good, but not life-changing. The rear-wheel-drive chassis is pliant and fun to work with, helped by the buoyant enthusiasm of Nissan’s 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine with 316bhp, which mates well with the rather raucous nature of the experience. Think 370Z rather than Primera.
>> Click ‘Next’ for more of CAR’s first drive review of the Infiniti G37 Convertible
Shame about the ride – they’ve avoided BMW’s run-flat harshness, but appear to have veered wildly in the opposite direction, leaving us bucking and bouncing over thankless cambers and compressing our spines in hidden dips.
The steering also nicks back the chassis’ main delights, being limper around the centre than (insert gay icon/handshake joke here). Yet for all that, the G37 Convertible is likeable to drive.
So, will UK buyers go for it?
Here’s an odd thing: it doesn’t matter. Infiniti’s stated aim is to launch a brand so exclusive it rivals Rolls-Royce for rarity, its absolute USP being to guarantee you’re the only Infiniti owner in any given golf club or school car park. Nice ambition, though wasted in this case, as the rear seats are absolutely too small for either children or golf clubs, and so is the boot. In fact, if you open the folding metal roof the boot’s too small for anything deeper than a laptop.
You’ll also wait a while for the hard top’s gymnastics, as it pirouettes from coupé to convertible in a traffic light unfriendly 24 seconds. Then you end up fiddling with various buttons to raise all the side windows after you’ve gone topless. Not the best folding hard top mechanism we’ve ever tested, then.
A failure then?
Ah, no. We Brits love a good-looking car, and the G37 looks absolutely sensational. That, plus exclusivity and a ‘mystery’ badge equals success. But Lexus will still get their sleep tonight.