Last year, Infiniti changed its coupe’s name to G37, a reflection of the car’s newly powered 3.7-liter engine. Now the brand’s sedan and convertible share the same title, and all three have a lot to offer. But it’s the coupe, on several top-10 lists in 2008, that stands out again in 2009.

First Impression: How classy! Great exterior color (Amethyst Graphite) interior color (Graphite), beautiful body design, great dark wood interior trim. It looked proud and elegant in the driveway and everywhere else for that matter.

The Weekly Driver’s Ratings

Acceleration (7)
There’s a hint of lag, but then watch out. The new seven-speed automatic transmission (with manual shift mode) accelerates quickly and with plenty of reserve. Hit it hard on a freeway and be prepared for a jolt. Need to maneuver out a tight situation? No problem. There’s a reason: 5.4 seconds in the standard 0-60 mph test.

Braking/Steering/Handling (8)
It doesn’t get much better than this. There’s little lean and a lot of confidence gripping the road. Steering is ideal — composed and firm. Braking likewise. I didn’t drive in inclement weather, but I can’t imagine the car responding any differently.

Cargo Room (5)
There are smaller cargo areas in sports coupes, but this is not the G37’s strong suit. There’s a one-piece folding back seatback and the trunk space is small, shallow and doesn’t have the best design. Groceries, luggage, etc., aren’t easily maneuvered in or out.

Controls (7)
Simple is best. And that’s the G37. The console is straightforward, illuminated stylishly and all knobs, push buttons and levers are designed seemingly with a goal of no learning curve.

Details (8)
What a beautiful approach. The wood trim is perfectly styled and contoured. The dark tone is a perfect complement to the graphite colored seats, paneling and carpet. The oval clock looks like an expensive wristwatch, a handsome touch. Steering wheel controls are intuitive and overall the designer did himself or herself proud.

Front Seats (6)
Headroom isn’t good for drivers taller than six feet, but that’s easily overshadowed by the seat comfort and overall room. Like relaxing in a family room easy chair, driving is always more fun when you’re comfortable.]]> There’s some restricted side visibility but direct rear vision is good.

Fuel Economy (5)
Premium gas is required and with a 330-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine, not much more can expected than 18 mpg (city) and 25 mpg (highway) averages. That’s not great, but considering the available power, it’s good for the class.

Quietness (6)
Is that Lauren Bacall clearing her throat? No, it’s the husky, appealing growl of the engine. It’s sweet. There’s not a lot of wind noise, so the engine tone is omnipresent. It may not be for everyone, but it worked for me.

Rear Seats (4)
Not too many coupes, if any, are known for rear seat spaciousness. The G37 is no different. The front seats have good power adjusting, but back seat entry and exit aren’t easy. It’s a four-seat vehicle, but the back seats have limited and head room and foot room, meaning smaller passengers will be relegated.

Ride Quality (7)
A sports coupe that’s near luxury status? The G37 is it. It grabs the road and has few weaknesses over bumps or undulating terrain. It’s smooth and restrained, save for the “growling” engine.

Total (63 out of 100)

Class — Sports coupe.

Primary competition — Audi A5, BMW 3 series, Nissan 370 Z.

For standard equipment/option package information, visit: www.infinitiusa.com.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price — $38,700.00

Price As Driven — $47,245.00

Mileage Estimates — 18 mpg (city), 25 mpg (hwy).

Warranty — Bumper-to-bumper, 4 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Are Saying:

“In the realm of near-luxury sport sedans, that price tag represents a strong value — a similarly outfitted Audi A4 3.2 Quattro or BMW 335i can easily fetch $50,000. Considering the state of our economy, those savings can mean having your cake and eating it, too.”

—- MotorTrend.com

“You’ll feel cradled in the charcoal-colored leather bucket seats and not too snug with the cabin interior. Wood trimmed center console and a clock nicer than any watch I’ve ever owned catch your eyes.”

—- TheAutoChannel.com

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“A great car to drive with a competitive base price, elegant styling, impressive performance and keen comfort. But geez those option packages add up quickly.”

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