Thumbs Up: Impressive handling and acceleration
Thumbs Down: Unpleasantly loud V6, somewhat unrefined
Buy This Car If: You want a 370Z that’s been to charm school
Back when Saturday Night Live was still funny, the show once ran a commercial spoof of a product that was both a floor cleaner and a dessert topping. I don’t remember the details, but the bottom line was this: by trying to be two distinctly separate things, the product had to make some compromises. Enter the 2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe, which tries to walk the line between a hardcore sports car and a personal luxury coupe.
As a luxury car, the Infiniti IPL has a lot going for it. The leather interior is well executed and the front seats are superb. There’s automatic climate control, a navigation system and a Bose audio system. Surprisingly, the front seats aren’t cooled, and there’s no available blind spot detection system, but what really takes away from the luxury car experience is an overly harsh ride and a loud V6 engine.
Is it a better sports car, then? The answer is yes, and the Infiniti IPL G Coupe offers a level of refinement that the Nissan 370Z does not. The interior is clearly a few steps up from the Nissan, and the ride quality is on par, but the Infiniti IPL would probably lose out on a racetrack to the lighter 370Z. If that’s your primary concern, then the Z is a better fit. If you’re looking for a real-world, daily driver sports car with some luxury appointments, then the Infiniti IPL will probably be more to your liking.
Like BMW’s M models or Chrysler’s SRT variants, the Infiniti IPL series is performance focused. IPL cars get improved aerodynamics, more horsepower and stiffer suspensions for better handling. They also come with a premium price tag: the 2011 Infiniti G37 Sport Coupe lists for $43,350, but stepping up to the IPL version will cost you another $5,550. Your money buys you another 18 horsepower and 6 lb-ft of torque, a unique exhaust system, dedicated suspension tuning and an available paddle-shifted seven-speed automatic gearbox that executes precisely rev-matched downshifts. You also get revised front and rear styling, a rear spoiler, deep rocker sills, unique 19-inch wheels with summer-only tires and red stitching to accent the interior.
That’s not to say the IPL G Coupe is flashy in it’s styling; in fact, even the more aggressive bodywork is tasteful, and never screams “boy racer.” Parked next to a regular Infiniti G37 Coupe, the IPL actually makes it’s sibling look a bit too conservative, but that’s why Infiniti builds so many versions of the G37 Coupe. Like Chinese food, there’s something for almost everyone’s tastes.
Inside, the IPL G Coupe rewards the driver and front seat passenger with some of the nicest seats in its class. They’re premium leather, perforated for ventilation and well-bolstered for enthusiastic driving. Both driver and passenger get plenty of adjustability, so finding a comfortable position for even long hours of driving won’t pose any challenge. Both front seats are heated, but Infiniti doesn’t provide cooling fans; at this price point and in this category, that’s a glaring omission.
The rear seats don’t offer much head room or leg room, but they’re on par with other sport coupes on the market today. If you can fit in the back seats, their deep seat cushions offer plenty of lateral support, and the 2+2 seating position ensures that passengers have ample shoulder room. Rear seats aren’t heated, but since they won’t be used for primary transportation, this is a non-issue.
The dash layout features Infiniti’s usual blend of understated elegance. There’s a lot of black, but the materials used are of the highest quality. Infiniti uses a brushed aluminum interior trim called “Silk Obi” on the center console, dash lower and doors, and the trim adds to the sporty appearance of the G Coupe’s interior. It’s a much nicer alternative than the done-to-death wood and even the piano black favored by other automakers.
All IPL cars come standard with Infiniti’s touch screen and voice activated navigation system, which I’ve always found to be one of the best in the industry. Entering data is simple with Inifiniti’s controller interface, and I salute Infiniti for keeping redundant audio and climate controls to simplify everyday tasks.
The instrumentation is a simple design shared with rest of the Infiniti G series range. Tachometer and speedometer are backlit for easy acquisition, and the central driver information display gives you your choice of data at a glance. The deeply hooded design of the instruments ensures that sun glare is never a problem.
Up front is a specially tuned version of Nissan’s 3.7-liter V-6. good for 348 horsepower and 276 ft-lb of torque in IPL trim. It’s mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed, paddle shifted automatic, depending upon the buyer’s preference. IPL cars get a unique exhaust as well, which is quite a bit louder than the norm for a luxury-oriented car. At high engine speeds, neither engine noise nor exhaust note are particularly pleasant; I wouldn’t call them intrusive, but Infiniti could do a better job of refining the exhaust note and toning back engine noise. That complaint aside, the Infiniti IPL pulls reasonably hard to near redline, and the run from 0 to 60 comes up in just over five seconds. Fuel economy is about what you’d expect from a car of this horsepower: the EPA tells you to expect 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and I saw an average of 19.4 mpg in city driving.
I’ve always been a fan of the Infiniti G Series’ handling, and the IPL Coupe didn’t disappoint. Though the ride can be harsh at times (especially over expansion joints or pavement transitions), the payback is in near-telepathic handling. Turn in is instant, body roll is minimal and the IPL lets you carry an impressive amount of speed into corners. When equipped with the R-Spec high-friction brakes pads, stopping power is impressive, and you won’t encounter any issues with brake fade in day to day driving. Shifts from the column-mounted paddle shifters and seven-speed automatic are crisp, and the IPL will rev-match for perfectly choreographed downshifts. I didn’t have the opportunity to take the IPL out on a track, but the car impressed me as being easy to drive at speed. Like every Infiniti vehicle I’ve ever driven, it provides the driver with an impressive amount of feedback and is blessed with remarkably balanced handling.
Infiniti provided the press fleet 2011 IPL G Coupe for my evaluation, and my tester came with a base price of $50,725, including a destination charge of $875. The sole option on my car was the $370 R-Spec High Friction Brake Pads, for a total sticker price of $51,095. For comparison, a similarly equipped Lexus IS 350 with the F Sport Package would sticker at $58,499, and a comparable BMW 335is would sell for $58,750.