2008 Infiniti G37S Coupe – The Art of War

In Plasma Red, the 2008 Infiniti G37S seems painted with the spilled blood of the BMW 335i Coupe. One wonders if Infiniti hasn’t delved into Sun Tzu’s 6th century BC military treatise, to guide its battle. The G35 couldn’t have pulled this off, especially with BMW throwing a 300hp/300lb-ft torque twin-turbo grenade into the luxury sport coupe fray. The G37S, however, is a warrior as deeply disciplined in the ways of the road and refined in the art of sport coupe war as any of the competition.

Visually the updates are subtle over the G35, but Infiniti has shown how a design can evolve from “Nissan 350Z in drag” G35 just bland, to just right with a few deft strokes.

From the front you catch hints of Maserati Quattroporte, and that’s no bad thing. The headlights are more predatory, casting a rapacious glare on the road ahead. There are gatling guns of LEDs for tail lights and twin bazookas for exhaust. The hood, fender flares and rocker panels all betray new arcs and sweeps. It’s as if Michelangelo has been at the G35 with a chisel, and released the true fluid tension and classic rear-wheel drive coupe form from within.

The interior hasn’t escaped the Feng Shui either. The aluminum trim is textured like washi rice paper, the perforated leather seats are French stitched, and the instruments and switches are back-lighted in nightclub violet. You don’t just adjust the steering wheel’s position, the entire console comes along for the ride. The layout is clean and operation clear.

Even integration with Apple’s iPod is superb. The cable plugs in, and the resulting playlists, songs and artists are available on the G37’s LCD display situated a binnacle on the upper dash. Selections are made through the multi-function rotary control at arms length from the driver.

The entire interior is the product of disciplined design and attention to human factors. Until you attempt to adjust the seats that is. It’s a tight squeeze for your hand between the door and seat and fish for the controls. Once you set the side bolsters and snug into the G37S’s low seats the Infiniti’s glove-snug fit reveals a deeper sense of purpose.

“Sun Tzu” has been pronounced from the very English “Sun-soo” to the closest Chinese pronunciation of “SOON-zuh.” Press the throttle and a guttural, growling rasp of the 3.7L V6 has no problems pronouncing “power”.

The G37S doesn’t offer the instant on power of BMW’s 335i, whose rev range is slathered with 300lb-ft of torque nearly all the way around the dial. Instead, the Infiniti develops 270 pound-feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. That means the G37S needs to be spun up to unleash wrath enough to ensure the traction control’s SLIP light is constantly flickering.

So it’s down 30 pound-feet down in comparison to the BMW, but that’s a case of, “Pretend inferiority and encourage his [your enemies] arrogance.”

By 7000rpm, it’s Attack by Fire, as the G37S unleashes its full 330hp from the arsenal as it shoots towards a 7,500 rpm redline. That’s 500 rpm and 24hp more than the outgoing G35, and 30hp more than the BMW 335i. The G37S’s V6 offers a more interactive, visceral and alive experience, because you need to fetch the power from the far end of the rev-range.

Take in the road framed between the arching front quarter-panels, hold the shifts, plant the throttle, scale though the rev-range and the V6’s threatening rises to the dry enraged wails like a club diva, sounding more exotic and hard-edged than the badge Infiniti implies.

Sun Tzu wrote that, “When the strike of a hawk breaks the body of its prey, it is because of timing.”

Pity you can’t say the same for the manual mode of the 5-speed automatic transmission. Behind the substantial steering wheel lie twin curved blades, allowing you to shift through ratios. No matter where your hands lie on the wheel these paddles are within perfect striking distance.

The electronics blip the throttle and rev-match the downshifts, but the process is too slow and methodical for anything dubbed “Sport Mode”, and the result is unbalancing.

Easier to abandon the manual shift mode and flick the stick to the left for sport mode and allow the G37S its own head. Unencumbered by human intervention, the G37S regains its deeply composed death grip on the road.

If “speed is the essence of war”, then the G37S’s handling presents a formidable foe. The Sport package that puts the “S” in G37S adds sport seats, limited-slip differential, 19-inch wheels, larger-diameter brake discs at all four corners, and firmer suspension. Normally that signifies the end of comfort as we know it.

The G37S’s ride, however, is deftly balanced between performance and comfort. On roads that would leave your internal organs liquefied in even a BMW 335xi, the G37S provides a calm ride and effortless fluidity through the turns. That alone makes the G37S worth considering.

The steering is nicely weighted, quick, and smooth, the initial turn in has a natural feel followed by an increased response rate. This minimizes understeer, but gives the G37S a slightly technological feel with the feedback from the front tires feeling lightly filtered.

Push through the corners and the traction control and limited slip differential keep the fire-fight contained. While some systems nanny, the G37S keeps you actively involved at the wheel and the throttle in hard cornering, you never feel like a spectator.

Shooting through a set of tight turns the SLIP light flickers, lay into the throttle and the rear end will even slide under power. The G37S’s electronics offer subtle intervention, without diluting the experience – delightfully refreshing.

Flick the stability system off, comprised of Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Viscous Limited-Slip Differential (VLSD), and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), and the G37S continues to feel poised, extremely agile, and balanced. The only issue here is weight.

“When torrential water tosses boulders, it is because of its momentum.” In tight aggressive cornering the G37S struggles to hide its 3,624lbs/1644kg mass, a trick it pulls off handily. Though not quite as well as its Bavarian competition.

Considering here in Canada the BMW 335i Coupe starts at a base $51,600, our nicely optioned Infiniti G37S sits at the same price. In the luxury coupe niche that represents a bit of a bargain for those willing to forgo the BMW’s roundel or Audi’s four rings brand identity. More importantly, guided by “sport coupe” core values of power, handling and flash, the 2008 G37S delivers impeccably without resorting to German austere-opulence, convoluted technological garnish or underlying sense of “schnell schnell” urgency.

Living with an unrelenting brilliant strategist and master tactician of corners and handling could be a pain. In the real world, sometimes you need to settle down and relax… you need peace. Luckily, the 2008 G37S offers an exceptional balance, mastering the art of sport coupe war as well as the way of daily driving peace. In short, with the G37S Infiniti has created something exceptionally rare and deeply satisfying in a sport coupe – driving harmony.

The Details:

3.7-litre variable-valve V-6
330 h.p at 7,000 r.p.m
270 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 r.p.m.

Five-speed automatic with manual shift sport mode (As tested) or Six-speed manual transmission.

Dimensions (mm):
Length, 4,650; width, 1,823; height, 1,393; wheelbase, 2,850

Curb weight (kg): 1,664

Canadian Pricing:
Price (base): $47,350
Price (as tested): $49,950
Price (total): 51,600.00 (includes $1,650 freight and PDI)

Fuel Type: Premium
Fuel Economy (L/100km): 12.0 city/ 7.8 highway / 16.2 performance


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