Thumbs Up: One of the best coupes now comes in ragtop flavor
Thumbs Down: Power top adds quite a bit of weight and takes up most of the trunk
Buy This Car If: You’re looking for Infiniti handling and style in a drop top.
If you’ve never experienced the joys of top down motoring, do yourself a favor: don’t ever drive a convertible on the first warm day of Spring, or the last Indian Summer day of Fall. You should probably skip top down driving on a starry summer night, too, and forget entirely about the joys of watching a good sunset (or sunrise) as you drive along the beach. If you haven’t done any of the above, you’re probably wondering what the fuss is about, and you probably wouldn’t understand why people are willing to make the concessions that owning a convertible requires. On the other hand, if you’ve got seat time in a ragtop, you understand that the question isn’t, “should I buy a convertible”, but rather, “which convertible should I buy?”
Infiniti’s G37 series is one of my favorite automotive lineups, because the cars blend performance, luxury and value better than any others on the market today. That may upset some brand loyalists who feel that the sun rises and sets on cars from Germany, but no German car on the market today delivers equivalent performance, handling and comfort at the Infinti’s price point. Infiniti has a unique style as well, and I love the fact that the “muscular flank” styling theme is carried throughout the product line. Love it or hate it, Infiniti’s styling is distinctive and helps to define the brand’s identity.
Perhaps the hardest task for an automotive designer is to pen a convertible that looks equally good top up or top down. The G37 Convertible’s designers have managed to do just that, and the car is stunning no matter what position the top is in. With the retractable hardtop up, the car has a decidedly different look than the G37 Coupe; it looks more refined, and more like a luxury car than a sports car. When the retractable hardtop is folded, the car looks elegant, as if it were designed from the ground up to be a convertible.
Unfortunately, you pay a price for the retractable hard top. The top, plus the motors required for operation and the reinforcement to the body structure, adds some 450 pounds compared to the G37 Coupe. The net result is a reduction in acceleration, braking and cornering compared to the Coupe, but that’s academic. You may be tempted into track days with the G37 Coupe, but that’s not the role of the G37 Convertible. There’s one more sacrifice that the G37 Convertible demands, and that’s trunk space. There’s a reasonable amount if the top is up, but there’s virtually none with the top down. It’s not an insurmountable obstacle for two people, since you can always throw you luggage in the back seat to go top down. If, however, you regularly haul four people and luggage around, the G37 Convertible won’t be on your short list.
The steeply raked windshield requires you to duck your head as you climb in, but once you’re inside the fun begins. First, there are the seats, which are different from those in the G37 Sport Sedan. They’re equally bolstered, but just a hair wider and supremely comfortable. Long days behind the wheel will be something to look forward to, not something to dread. The seats are electrically adjustable, and the driver’s seat includes inflatable bolstering and lumbar support. A nice touch is the passenger seat adjustment on the left of the seat itself; this allows rear seat passengers to move the front seat forward for more leg room.
Rear seats are good enough for adults without long legs. Top down, getting in or out is not a problem. Top up, some flexibility is required to climb into the back seat. Like the Ford Mustang or the Chevy Camaro, the rear seat is good enough for occasional use, but if you regularly haul four or more adults, don’t plan on a G37 Convertible as your only car.
Dropping the retractable hard top is done with the press of a button. The motor needs to be running, and the car must be stationary for the top to operate. When you press the button, the windows lower, the decklid opens, the tonneau cover deploys and the top folds up and in on itself. It’s not a quick process, so you need to plan ahead if you want to drive top down. I made the mistake of dropping the top at a traffic light, and I ran out of light before the top finished its complex ballet. Likewise, if you need to put the top up, it isn’t a ten second operation; if you see rain on the horizon, it’s best to plan ahead and get the top up before you need it. A dashboard warning message gives you the status of the top’s operation, which takes around 45 seconds to deploy or retract.
The three spoke steering wheel is leather wrapped and well shaped for spirited driving. As you’d expect in a luxury car, there are steering wheel mounted controls for audio, phone and cruise control, and the wheel is adjustable for both tilt and reach. The center console is trimmed in aluminum colored plastic, and the stack features redundant controls for audio and HVAC. The Infiniti Controller is used to input map data, and can also be used to display vehicle information or to change HVAC or audio settings. I’ve praised Infiniti’s nav system before, which I consider to be the best in the industry.
Interior trim is an upscale blend of soft touch plastic, leather and simulated brushed aluminum. I’m not sure how I can better describe the trim, which actually has an iridescent appearance in the right lighting. I’m not entirely sure I liked it, as it provided too much flash for an otherwise understated interior. On the plus side, at least Infiniti doesn’t feel compelled to use fake woodgrain, like so many other manufacturer’s do on “upscale” models.
Instruments are the usual Infiniti fare; they’re not flashy, but they’re clear and easy to read. A backlit blue glow provides contrast on the tachometer and speedometer, which are split by the vehicle information display. A temp gauge and a fuel gauge round out the instrument cluster, which is surrounded in black soft touch plastic.
Press the start button, and the 3.7 liter V6 comes to life with a satisfying growl. The motor is good for some 325 horsepower and 267 foot pounds of torque, which is good enough to get the car from zero to sixty in a hair over six seconds. My tester had the six speed manual transmission, and I strongly recommend you go the shift-it-yourself route to preserve the sporting potential of the G37 Convertible. The EPA rates the G37 Convertible at 16 MPG city, 24 MPG highway and 19 MPG combined; I saw 18.1 MPG in mostly city driving, which tells me the EPA numbers are a bit conservative.
Like every other G37 I’ve driven, the Convertible is a blast to drive. Clutch take-up is smooth, and the gearshift throws are precise enough to be entertaining. They’re not short, but the car’s primary mission isn’t turning hot laps at a racetrack. For spirited top down motoring, with the occasional rev-matched downshift, the six speed transmission is the way to go, although Infiniti does offer some of the best paddle shifters in the business. The steering is weighted enough to be precise without being heavy, and the handling is very predictable and confidence inspiring despite the convertible’s added weight.
Base price on the 2010 Infiniti G37 Sport Convertible I drove was $47,825, including destination charge. Options on my tester included the $1,850 Navigation Package (Seven Inch Touch Screen Monitor, Intelligent Traffic Routing, Weather Alerts, Voice Command, 9.3 GB Music Box Hard Drive, Bluetooth Wireless Audio Streaming, DVD Playback) and the $370 R Spec High Friction Brake Pads, for a total sticker price of $50,045. By comparison, a comparably equipped BMW 335i Convertible would sticker at $57,100, and a comparably equipped Mercedes-Benz E350 would sticker at $62,475.
The G37 Convertible is really several cars in one. It’s a luxury convertible with sporting intentions when the top is down, but it’s a comfortable grand tourer with the top up. In nice weather, it’s a great choice for al fresco motoring, whether you’re short shifting and obeying the speed limit or winding it out with an eye on your radar detector. When the weather turns nasty, the hardtop makes it as quiet and weather tight as the coupe, and adds an element of security compared to a fabric or vinyl roofed convertible. No matter how you feel like driving, or what weather you need to drive in, the G37 Convertible is a win-win situation for anyone behind the wheel.