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In the Maxim Garage: 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

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RATING: review_star_7.gif

SPEC CHECK
Price: Starting mid-$40K
Engine: 3.7-liter V6 with VVEL
Torque: 267 lb.-ft. @ 5200 rpm
Horsepower: 325
O-60: 5.8 sec. (estimated)
Top speed: 145 mph

InfinitiInterior1.jpgI'm ready to unleash road hell on the hills of southern California in Infiniti's topless version of their G37 coupe, and I'm stuck creeping behind a rolling roadblock of participants on TV's The Biggest Loser, who are s-l-o-w-l-y walking a marathon. And there's a sign that says we're only at mile 5!

The police caravan must see the tears welling up in my eyes, because they mercifully wave me past. Once out of sight, I lay on the throttle, and turn on the 13-speaker Bose sound system, which blasts Willie Nelson crooning “The Rainbow Connection.” Tip for the Bose rep: Convertible driving with 325 horses at your beck and call is not conducive to a mix CD that includes, at its most rocking, a song made famous by Kermit the Frog.

THE GOOD: You’ll flash the same smile as the guy driving the coupe, but you’ll be tanner.

But even a roadblock of overweight reality stars and a lame mix CD can’t wipe the smile off my face as I whip through winding roads near Malibu, and test the responsive acceleration of the 3.7-liter V6. Trust me, it's quick. Which is surprising since the convertible is hefting around 450 more pounds of junk in the trunk than its coupe brethren. Nevertheless, it handles corners with confidence and straightaways are punctuated with Infiniti's growling machine-y exhaust note that keeps me mildly pissed that the speed limit doesn’t exceed 50 during much of my drive. The car and its 267 lb. ft. of torque want more. And the seamless 7-speed automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual is also available) means I can do it with extreme smoothness.

In addition to the extra heft, the convertible version has a revised rear suspension system and optimized A-pillar position to reduce wind turbulence and presumably help bad-kneed ex-quarterbacks ease in and out of the car.

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THE BAD: Deep pockets and strong security in your manhood are mandatory.

InfinitButt.jpgThanks to the insistence of my co-driver, a British car journalist with a glowing-red forehead, I test the three-piece hard top during a brief stop. At the touch of a button, the car goes into full Transformer mode for around 30 seconds, the hood rising from the depths of the trunk to eventually settle into a profile strikingly similar to the G37 coupe’s.

Later, after slathering on gobs of sunblock (not on each other), we again drop the top and peek into the trunk, which reveals enough cargo room to stow a hot dog. If you want to bring sizable luggage or golf clubs, expect to train a gorilla to hurl them into your only top-down storage option—the back seat.

A sizable wind deflector that manually pulls into position, just behind the front seat headrests, allows conversations between you and your shotgun passenger to be held at a normal decibel level. Don’t bother talking to back-seat riders; leg room is at a premium, so dialog would only involve discussions of why their knees are tucked squarely under their chin.

To keep motorists comfortable, an Adaptive Climate Control System adjusts according to outside temperature and speed. It also has climate-controlled front seats, which keeps my buns toasty during a sudden cold burst along the fog-filled Pacific Coast Highway.

Trying to assert your masculinity in this car, however, is a tall order. The outside styling is as smooth as the inside, with its lines leaning heavily toward female sensibilities. And when the top goes down, it seems to get more sissified than its pricier competitor, the BMW 335i.

That said, when I'm accosted at a rest stop by a curious onlooker with a cell phone camera, it turns out to be an excited car guy who thinks it "looks like a lot of fun, dude." And eff-it, he's right, dude. Despite its girlish figure, I can't get past the fact that it’s a blast to drive.

BOTTOM LINE: The G37 takes its top off, and loses a little edge, but gains open air fun.