Thumbs Up: Convertible fun with coupe sensibility.
Thumbs Down: Not as agile as the G Coupe, no top-down luggage space.
Buy This Car If: You want a convertible you can use year-round.
Convertibles, conventional wisdom tells us, are filled with compromise. For the pleasure of the occasional top-down drive, buyers need to contend with chassis flex, leaking seals, increased road noise and an appalling lack of security, since anyone with a sharp knife can easily access the contents of your car. Owning one is only a reasonable consideration for those living in California or Florida, and even then it’s best to never park your ragtop out of sight.
Enter the power-retractable hard top, available on a surprising number of convertibles these days. On the low-cost side, a folding hard top Mazda MX-5 Miata can be had for under $29,000, but if your budget is unlimited, the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG starts at around $203,000. If you want something with more sport and less luxury, there’s the Ferrari 458 Italia Spyder, which begins at about $276,000.
In between the extremes lies the Infiniti G Convertible, which offers an unbeatable blend of style, flexibility and performance. It’s got a stiff enough chassis that cowl shake isn’t a problem, and with the top up the car is nearly as quiet as the Infiniti G Coupe. While the overall shape differs from the coupe (and from it’s cousin, the Nissan 370Z convertible), we still think the G Convertible looks equally good with the top up or the top down.
Compared to the Infiniti’s primary rival, the Lexus IS250 Convertible, the G Convertible has a much more integrated look with the top in place, as if it were originally penned as a convertible and not a coupe. The odd C-Pillar buttresses found on the Lexus are absent on the Infiniti, and the roof line flows smoothly into the rear deck. There’s plenty of glass, too, so outward visibility is never an issue regardless of top position.
Folding the top is as easy as pressing a console-mounted button, but only after you’ve set the trunk divider in the correct position. Press the switch, and the top takes about 25 seconds to perform its automated origami; putting the top up takes a similar amount of time. That’s a bit long if you’re trying to get a view of the sky at a short traffic light, so it’s best to plan ahead when you want to change the top position.
Top up or top down, there’s no chance of mistaking the G Convertible for anything else on the road. Common Infiniti design traits, like the muscular front fenders, flowing headlights and pronounced front fascia carry over, as do the taillights from the rest of the G Series. Overall, we wouldn’t change a thing, except for the odd bit of chrome tacked on to the trunk as a rear spoiler. It looks a bit tacky, and is oddly out of place on a car with sporting intentions.
There’s nothing to fault with Infiniti’s dash design, which we find to be one of the most functional and attractive on the market. Brushed metallic “Silk Obi” trim is used to split the crash pad and dash lower, and this trim is carried over onto the door panels as well (which get trimmed interior-colored vinyl for contrast). The large navigation / infotainment system display is atop the center stack, which minimizes the time your eyes are off the road. Data input via the Infiniti controller is simple and intuitive, and redundant controls for audio and climate control mean you don’t have to scroll through menus to add a new radio station selection.
Instruments are the same used throughout the Infiniti G model line, but we say that’s a good thing. Tachometer and speedometer are bright and easy to read, and are flanked by temperature and fuel level gauges. In between is the driver information display, which can show a variety of trip-related data based on user preferences.
Front seats are wrapped in ventilated leather and heated for all-weather comfort. The driver’s chair is 12-way power adjustable, including inflatable bolsters for spirited driving. There’s even a thigh extension to reduce leg fatigue on longer trips, something that few other manufacturers build into automotive seating. The front passenger must make do with an 8-way power adjustable seat, without the thigh extension or inflatable lumbar cushion found in the left chair.
It’s probably best to think of the rear seats as “temporary use only,” unless you’re hauling children, cargo or pets in the second row. With the top in place, access requires some gymnastics; top down, access isn’t a problem, but leg room is lacking. Accommodating rear passengers requires the front seat occupants to give up leg room, which probably isn’t an issue on short trips.
Power comes from Infiniti’s tried-and-true 3.7-liter V-6, good for 330 horsepower and 270 pound feet of torque. Opt for the Sport version of the G Convertible, and a six-speed manual is the standard transmission. We’d like to thank Infiniti for continuing to build cars with a manual gearbox, as some of us prefer to row our own gears, even if it is slower and less fuel-efficient. If you’re good at working the shift lever, the run from 0-60 mph will take you around six seconds, which is a bit slower than the lighter Infiniti G Coupe. Fuel economy depends largely on how hard you push the car: the EPA says to expect 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, and we averaged an indicated 17.3 mpg in mostly-city driving. Get enthusiastic on your favorite canyon road, however, and your mileage may indeed vary.
Behind the wheel, the G Convertible feels bigger than you’d think. That’s likely due to the weight of the power folding top and additional chassis bracing, so the G Convertible wouldn’t be our first choice for weekly visits to the drag strip. Instead, the car excels in a grand-touring role, happy to carry as much speed into a corner as your ability allows. Steering is nicely weighted and communicates well what’s going on with the front tires. The car is quick to turn in, and stops in a respectably-short distance when you get hard on the binders. The G Convertible never manages to feel as quick as the sedan or coupe, but it still manages to build velocity in an admirable manner.
Top-down on a nice day, none of those details matter. The G Convertible is a superb choice for those who like to drive but need a sports car that’s still functional in the real world. It delivers solid entertainment value when the road gets twisty, yet doesn’t punish you for this on long super-slab drives. It’s quiet inside with the top in place, and its weather-tight for year-round enjoyment. Yes, the trade-off is the car’s lack of luggage room with the top lowered, but there’s plenty of space for cargo in the rear seats. While convertibles may not be the perfect choice for all buyers, we think the Infiniti G is one of the best options in the open-air segment.
Infiniti loaned us the G Convertible 6MT for our evaluation. Base price of our press fleet tester was $51,745, including a destination charge of $895, and the sole option was the $340 Illuminated Kick Plates for a total sticker price of $52,085.
For comparison, a similarly equipped (but less powerful) Lexus IS250 Convertible would sticker at $58,850, while a comparable (but also less powerful and front-wheel drive) Volvo C70 would price at $50,375.