Having already tested the rear wheel drive Infiniti G37 Convertible with the retractable hardtop, I was anxious to drive the sport version with the 6 speed manual transmission. I loved the luxury and speed of the automatic topless G37, so will I be equally impressed with the sport version, or will I miss the easy going nature of the auto? Let’s find out!
Since I’m a car enthusiast that really loves to drive with the top down as often as possible the Infiniti G Roadster definitely ranks high on my list in terms of motoring al fresco. Just flick the top down switch located on the center console and the Infiniti’s power top stows neatly away in the trunk. No rag top replacement needed… ever!
Hardtop convertibles have been en vogue lately and for good reason. With the top up, its just like driving a hardtop. It’s the best of both worlds, and the Infiniti G may just be the finest retractable hardtop automobile available.
Despite larger 19″ wheels and a slightly altered front and rear fascia, a sure sign that you are admiring an Infiniti G Roadster Sport 6M is the red S that is just to the right of the G37 emblem. Suspension modifications won’t be noticed until you are behind the wheel.
As I noted in my prior test of the standard G37, I was very impressed with the design of the Infiniti Roadster. The exterior flow and design sparked images of art deco inspired cars from the days of yore.
It really is just as nice inside the Infiniti as well. The interior is extremely elegant with the leather and metalic silver trim being complemented by the analog clock squarely in the middle of the dash. The analog clock used to be a trademark of Maserati, but Infiniti has done a great job of making it a highlight of their interiors in recent years.
The navigation and audio systems are easy to use once you get the hang of them, and you can scroll through and make your selections using the steering wheel mounted toggle switch.
Just flick the toggle switch up or down and then press it to make your selection. It is much easier and safer than using the touch screen while driving. Your IPhone or cell phone can be easily integrated into the Infiniti via bluetooth and you also get over 9GBs of hard drive storage. With the convertible top down, you will definitely be able to enjoy the speakers mounted on the headrests.
Every luxury item is included… heated seats, power everything, cruise control with speed limit advisory… the list goes on and on. You even get traffic and weather info and Zagat restaurant listings incorporated right into the navigation system.
Safety also comes standard with the G Sport thanks to driver and passenger front air bags, as well as both seat and door mounted side air bags. The 4 yr 60,000 mile roadside assistance and scratch resistant paint should also add piece of mind.
Compare the G37 Sport to the regular G purely by the numbers and you might be too impressed. The manual version of the G37 is .4 seconds faster to 60 than the automatic version taking just 5.1 seconds versus 5.5 for the auto. Horsepower is the same in both versions with the dual overhead cam 3.7 liter V6 making 325 and 267 lb ft of torque.
Both are limited to a top speed of about 150 miles per hour. Gas mileage is strangely better in the auto which is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway versus the manual’s 16 and 24 mpg rating. I averaged 18.3 miles per gallon during my time in the G, but you should also consider that I rarely had the top up!
But really, the performance numbers don’t really tell the story when you compare the G37 Roadster and the G37 Roadster Sport 6M from behind the wheel. The throaty exhaust bellowing in the manual version is quite addictive as is quickly shifting through the close ratio gearbox. The shifter feels great, and the clutch is surprisingly light and easy to manipulate.
Handling is much improved as well, thanks to an overall stiffer suspension and sport tuned exhaust. Dual Flow Path shock absorbers and front and rear stabilizer bars really firm up the ride and sharpen the handling. And as if all that weren’t enough, the brakes are bigger and better on the manual sport version as well.
The pedals are spaced very well for heal and toe shifting, but even so I would like to have the option of having the Infiniti do it for me with the auto rev match system which is used in the Nissan 370Z. This is amazing technology, and I’m not sure why Nissan didn’t put it in the Infiniti G Sport.
That said, the Infiniti G Sport is extremely fun to drive, and it begs to be driven hard. You can certainly drive it slowly, but it requires a lot of effort. The torquey, high revving engine is always ready to be pushed up to its 7500 rpm redline!
The base price of the Infiniti G Roadster Sport is $46,950. R Spec High Friction brake pads are a $370 option and help the G Sport shave off speed very quickly. Add the Navigation package for $1,850 and with the $865 destination charge you are out the door at $50,035.
Certainly not cheap, but an Audi TT Spyder with performance options retails for about $51,000 and it doesn’t have a retractable hard top. And when you consider that the Porsche Boxster starts at $58,000, well then the G sport actually seems reasonable.
Out on the road the handling is very crisp and thanks to the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control even the average driver can safely enjoy the controlled limits of the G37 Roadster Sport. You do have the option of canceling the VDC, but unless you really know what you are doing, I don’t recommend it.
Basically what the VDC does is let you push the car to what it feels should be the outer edge of safety in any given situation. Mash the throttle while mid turn and the back end may come out a bit, but you won’t spin. With the VDC off, you would definitely spin because that 3.7 liter V6 is quite peppy.
The bottom line with the Infiniti G Roadster Sport is that it is really in a class of its own. Sure you can get the Lexus IS Convertible which is also a four seat luxury retractable hardtop convertible, but you can’t get it with a manual transmission.
You can get the 6 speed Mazda Miata with the retractable hardtop for about $20,000 less, but you won’t get four seats, and you won’t have nearly as much luxury or speed as in the Infiniti. The Volkswagen Eos has a retractable hard top and four seats too, but it is certainly not a sports car. BMW now has their own 3 series sedan with a retractable hard top, but it is a much larger car.
So in the end, I do think the Infiniti G37 Roadster Sport is a special car. I may even go so far as to say it’s the poor man’s Ferrari California which is Maranello’s first retractable hard top roadster. The Infiniti G37 Sport 6M has luxury in spades, great handling, impressive speed, an addictive exhaust tone, a reasonable price and of course the icing on the cake… you get to shift it yourself!