2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe Photo
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Thus came to pass the G35 Sport Coupe, first introduced March 28 at the New York Auto Show and on... Read more »
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Did you know there’s a luxury coupe segment? Can you name the cars that live there? Did you know their sales volume has expanded 50 percent since 1999? (We know these things are important to you because you read TCC.) The folks at Infiniti, being wise in such industry matters and needing “to re-establish the Infiniti brand here in the U.S.,” decided this segment would be a good place to play.

Thus came to pass the G35 Sport Coupe, first introduced March 28 at the New York Auto Show and on sale at all 158 Infiniti dealers in early November. But during an all-too-short late August day, Infiniti gave us the chance to drive both it and the M45 sedan around the San Francisco Bay Area. Two cars and a whole bunch of information on each “in just one day” made attention to detail paramount. So when the Infiniti folks talked, we listened.

“The G35 Coupe is an entirely new model that shares no sheetmetal with the G35 sedan,” said Sonny Osawa, chief product specialist. “We didn’t just lop two doors off (of the sedan); we needed another high-performance GT car,” noted Thomas Crahan, manager of product planning. “We don’t think anyone else is doing a car so committed to this genre.” Among these less committed, Infiniti cited BMW (325/330Ci), Acura (CL), Volvo (C70) and Mercedes-Benz (CLK).

Balancing pressures

Infiniti’s commitment was helped considerably by Nissan’s racing inspired FM (Front Mid-ship) platform that also carries the G35 sedan and Nissan’s no-nonsense sports car, the 350Z. The FM package places the engine behind the front axle, large wheels and tires at the far corners, and is rear-wheel drive, a major tenet of Infiniti’s “re-establishment.”

2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe

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Those rear wheels have the good fortune to be connected to Nissan’s world class 3.5-liter aluminum V-6 that’s also found in Infiniti’s I35 and G35 sedans, and Nissan’s 350Z. In the G35 Coupe, the dual-overhead cam, 24-valve unit produces a robust 280 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, 20 horses and 10 lb-ft more than the version found in its sedan sibling. (Only the Z’s 287 hp and 274 lb-ft top it.) “The coupe’s exhaust has half the back pressure of the sedan,” Crahan told TCC, “that was the start of the domino to get from 260 to 280. Once that was done, we could change the variable valve timing to the intake to reduce the pumping loss, balancing the pressures on both sides of the engine and providing better breathing throughout.”
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