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2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe - Road Test

A Z-Car In Grown-Up Clothes

Jun 1, 2003
0306_sccp_09_z+2003_infiniti_g35_sport_coupe+side_view Photo 1/1   |   2003 Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe - Road Test

The Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe is a result of the margarita method of car design. The crew at Nissan put a 350Z and a G35 sedan in a blender and hit the pure button. What they got is essentially a 2+2 Z with a longer wheelbase, a nice highway ride and a luxurious Infiniti interior. But how much Z-car survived the process? Is this a true driver's car with a bit more practicality and style? Or is the G35 Sport Coupe more suited to hauling golf clubs than hauling the mail?

To find out, we did what we always do. We borrowed one for a week and drove the snot out of it. Then we took it to the test track and the chassis dyno.

Turns out the G35 Sport Coupe, which is without a doubt one of the best-looking cars on the road today, has more than enough Z-car lurking underneath its beautiful skin. Our G35 test car, which had a six-speed manual transmission (the same unit used in a 350Z) and 18-inch wheels and tires, managed near-Z-car performance, despite a 7.9-inch longer wheelbase and 188 more pounds.

Nissan says the G's version of the 3.5-liter V6 makes 7 less horsepower than the same engine in the Z-car. Our Dynojet said different. Our G tester spun the rollers with 242 hp at 6250 rpm and 230 lb-ft of torque at 4600 rpm. That's 2 fewer horsepower and 8 fewer lb-ft of torque than we measured on the last 350Z we tested.

That power, along with our G's optional limited-slip differential, added up to a 0-to-60-mph run of 6.1 seconds, and a quarter-mile pass in 14.2 seconds at 99.8 mph. That's 0.3 second slower to 60 and 0.2 second slower in the quarter mile than the last Z-car we tested, which wore 17-inch rubber. Both cars, by the way, also use the same final-drive ratio.

In our handling tests, the G managed a strong 69.2 mph through the slalom and a very impressive .93g around the skidpad. The last Z we tested managed a slightly quicker 70.2-mph slalom speed, but only .88g around the skidpad.

The G, when equipped with the six-speed manual, comes standard with the 18-inch wheels and the same huge Brembo brakes (12.8 inches in front and 12.7 inches in back) you get on the 350Z with the Track Package. This combination stopped the car from 60 mph in a pretty incredible 118 feet, which is only 5 feet longer than the last Z we tested, which didn't have the Brembos. And fade was not an issue.

Around town, the G35 SC is refined and easy to drive. Its long 112.2-inch wheelbase makes for calmer, friendlier ride motions than you'll find in a Z-car, but the real benefit of the added length is stability. The Infiniti is an easier car to toss around the shorter Z, because things happen a bit slower. A Z may snap around on you at the limit, but the G takes its time and moves into oversteer quite lazily. This is also partly due to the car's vehicle stability system, which doesn't come on like The Thought Police, but can't be switched off entirely, only dialed back until the ABS becomes a kind of electronic safety net.

That long wheelbase also helps impart tremendous straight-line stability. Up past 100 mph, the G35 SC feels like a cruise missile. Nissan's engineers gave the car an aerodynamically clean underbelly that delivers a measure of downforce to counter the lift generated by the flow of air across the top of the car. Just as important, the chassis concept calls for a bit more weight up front, so the G35 SC always knows which end of the car is supposed to lead, and the steering sends you reassuring messages, even when the tires skip over puddles of rain water or patches of ice.

Inside, the architecture is pretty plain and the materials are nothing special, but the interior has style. The dash, gauges and console are identical to what you'll find in a G35 sedan, and we've always liked the inside of that car. The shifter has nice short throws and a tight spacing, the pedals are well placed and the gauges are easy to read. All the controls are exactly where you want them. We even like the unorthodox placement of the power seat controls next to the console.

The G's seats aren't as aggressively bolstered as the Z-car's, but leather is standard. And for some reason, Nissan chose to sit the driver of the G about an inch higher than the driver of a Z-car. Some bull about visibility.

Compared to the BMW 3 Series coupe, the G35 SC's rear seat offers 0.6 inch more shoulder room, 1.8 inch less headroom, and 1.8 inch less leg room. Since the BMW 3 Series coupe is not exactly known for rear-seat comfort, it's fair to say would-be occupants of the G35's backseat should be restricted to those with no legs.

Some may argue the G35 SC lacks the purity of a Z-car. They say if you want a backseat, then a G35 sedan, which is now available with a manual transmission, is what you should drive. But others believe the G35 SC is just a nicer Z-car, and it gets to the same place with a little more luxury and a little more utility.

We see the Infiniti G35 Sport Coupe as a Z-car 2+2. You should, too.

2003 INFINITI G35 SPORT COUPE
Estimated Price :$34,{{{300}}} (as tested)
ENGINE
Engine Code :VQ35DE
Type :V6, aluminum block and heads
Valvetrain :DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Displacement : 3498cc
Bore x Stroke :95.5 x 81.4 mm
Compression Ratio :10.3:1
Claimed Crank Hp :280 hp @ 6200 rpm
Claimed Crank Torque : 270 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Measured Wheel Hp :242 hp @ 6250 rpm
Measured Wheel Torque :230 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm
Redline :6600 rpm
DRIVETRAIN
Layout :Longitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION
Gear Ratios
1 :3.794:1
2 :2.324:1
3 :1.624:1
4 :1.271:1
5 :1.000:1
6 :0.794:1
Final Drive :3.538:1
Differential :Viscous limited slip
CHASSIS
Curb Weight :3,435 lb
Weight Distribution F/R :53/47
Overall Length :182.2 in.
Wheelbase :112.2 in.
Overall Width :71.5 in.
Height :54.8 in.
SUSPENSION
Front :Double wishbone with split lower control arms, anti-roll bar
Rear :Multilink, anti-roll bar
BRAKES
Front :324mm (12.8in) x 30mm (1.18in) vented discs, four-piston aluminum floating calipers
Rear :322mm (12.7in) x 22mm (0.87in) vented discs, two-piston aluminum floating calipers.
Electronic Driving Aids/Inhibitors :ABS, drive-by-wire throttle, stability control (with off switch), brake assist, electronic brake force distribution
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels :18x8.0 in.
Tires :Front 225/45WR-18 Bridgestone Potenza RE 040Rear 245/45WR-18 Bridgestone Potenza RE 040
PERFORMANCE
0-30 mph :2.5 sec.
0-60 mph :6.1 sec.
30-50 mph :2.2 sec.
50-70 mph :3.1 sec.
Quarter Mile :14.2 sec. @ 99.8 mph
HANDLING
Lateral Grip (200ft skidpad) :0.93g
Slalom Speed (700ft slalom) :69.2 mph
BRAKING
60-0 stopping distance :118 ft.

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