Stylish and Quick, Coupe's Performance Borders on Brilliant

Njuguna Kabugi | 8/30/2012, 12:21 p.m.

The beauty of being an automotive columnist is that it helps you develop immunity to that insane urge to buy a ridiculously expensive new sports car when you reach middle age. Over the course of the year, I drive lots of interesting cars - which mutes any desire to raid the retirement account or the kid's college fund.

Mind you, it's not that I'm admitting I am, will ever be or have even come close to that stage in life, after all, isn't age just a number in our minds? But if I ever do drop to a point where I'd shun practical, rational decision making to wallow in that dramatic display of self-doubt, then I will be driving a car like today's test car, the Infiniti G37 Coupe. It checks yes on all the boxes in my ranking of mandatory must haves in the perfect midlife-crisis car.

While the G37 Coupe's spirited engine will spike a 50 something's pulse rate high enough to have a cardiologist on speed dial, its excellent steering and driving dynamics strikes a healthy balance between a comfortable ride and responsive handling that will satisfy a wide array of driving tastes.

The G37 Coupe rides on a version of the same platform that underpins the longer G37 sedan and the venerable Nissan 370Z sports car. The Nissan sports car is made by Infiniti's parent company in Japan, and is revered for its seat-of-the-pants thrill that many drivers only dream about.

Infiniti G Coupe models come equipped with a 3.7-liter VQ-series V6 with VVEL [for Variable Valve Event and Lift] rated at 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. The engine is backed by a choice of an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic transmission with available magnesium paddle shifters or a 6-speed manual.

Interior features include a predominately white color scheme for the gauges and LCD instrument display, "Shodo" aluminum trim inspired by the traditional art of Japanese calligraphy and available high-gloss maple accents. The 2012 G Coupe also includes an extensive list of available technology features, including a touch screen navigation system with XM NavTraffic Real-Time Traffic information, and a RearView Monitor.

The foundation for the G Coupe's impressive handling and ride performance comes from its second-generation FM platform. The 4-wheel independent suspension design features lightweight aluminum components and large front and rear stabilizer bars. Responsive steering is provided by a vehicle-speed-sensing design, which provides optimum steering effort at both high and low vehicle speeds. Standard on all G37 Coupes is Vehicle Dynamic Control [VDC].

The pricing on our test car which was loaded with options came a little over $50,000. I have to admit, that is a lot of money, certainly in the present tough economy. In some parts of the country, 50 grand would not only make for a healthy down payment on a home, it would also cover the entire cost of the home. But we do not buy sports cars for their practicality. And when it comes to a premium mid-level sport sedan from a luxury automaker, what Infiniti is asking is in many cases the price of entry. In the G37 Coupe, those not initiated in this type of vehicle will find much to gripe about. The seating position is low, which seriously cuts rear visibility - and moving the front seats back cuts out what little leg room exists for the small rear seats which are just barely passable for small children. The trunk space is very small - you struggle fitting anything larger than a couple of six-packs.

But the front seats are first-rate, the control layout and instrumentation is nicely done, and the exterior nicely blends elegance with sporty proportions.If you're looking for a good combination of handling, upscale interior and excellent power, the G37 is well worth considering.