2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

The Basics:

TheCarConnection.com’s editors drove the new 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible to provide you with an expert opinion of its styling, performance, safety, comfort and features. Editors at TheCarConnection.com’s also reviewed other respected automotive Web sites to give you the best information possible on this new four-seat convertible.

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible is the first topless car from Nissan’s luxury brand since the early 1990s—and it’s a fine one, with swift performance, great looks, and a raft of features designed to maximize your enjoyment of the sun. TheCarConnection.com drove the G37 Convertible in Southern California on an 80-degree day and found the new convertible’s road manners and interior fittings up to speed—even if backseat room and a drop in acceleration and handling don't quite meet the standards of Infiniti’s own G37 Coupe.

The 2009 Infiniti G37 is a true sport sedan; it may be a little harsh for poseurs, but true driving enthusiasts will love it.

Astonishingly, the G37 Convertible is almost better-looking than the Coupe. The pillars are thinner, and the rear end a little wider, giving it a voluptuous appearance that’s easily the best-executed folding-hardtop two-door available at its price. Volvo’s C70 and BMW’s 3-Series Convertible seem choppy and pudgy in comparison—give credit to the G37’s tightly stacked top, which requires only a slight increase in trunklid height. Inside, the G37 Convertible shares an upgraded instrument panel and cabin with the Coupe, and they're lovely. Soft-touch dash tops and muted leathers buddy up with textured aluminum or African rosewood to give the Convertible a distinct personality, and its high-quality trim makes it seem worthy of every penny of its nearly $50,000 base price.

Performance takes a hit compared to the G37 Coupe, largely because all the reinforcing needed to keep the Convertible from shaking, rattling, and rolling is so extensive. The 3.7-liter V-6 from the Coupe is only down 5 horsepower here, to 325 hp, and the transmissions are the same: a slick six-speed manual with a clutch that has a high uptake point, or a marvelous seven-speed automatic that gets paddle shifters and a sport driving mode with the optional Sport package. It’s a delight to flip around through the gears in most driving modes with the automatic and a relief for most drivers who will use this to career through traffic instead of careening through corners. Not that the G37 Coupe can’t perform—it steers well and has a well-damped ride, even with the Sport package’s 19-inch wheels. Its penalty comes in weight, some 450 pounds more than the Coupe, which can be felt in the slightly slower reflexes and longer acceleration times. The engine’s V-6 growl more than makes up for it, though you’ll want for better fuel economy than the Convertible’s 17/25 mpg (automatic) or 16/24 mpg (manual).

Inside, the front passengers nestled inside the G37 Convertible will find much to admire. The base seats are fine; sport seats have adjustable supports and cosset snugly. In back, things get ugly; the G37 Convertible lacks any real legroom for those passengers, and there’s scant headroom when the convertible top is raised. Trunk space is nominal with the top lowered and merely adequate with the top in up position. The bright spots for the G37 Convertible in comfort and quality are its dimmed-down wind noise—a ruffle here and there—and those well-fitted front seats, as well as high-quality materials and just the right noises filtering into the cabin from the V-6.

For safety purposes, the G37 Convertible is fitted with twin pop-up rollbars that give it a higher degree of rollover safety. Other gear includes dual front airbags; side seat-mounted and side door-mounted curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control; and active headrests. Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested one yet. Adaptive cruise control and “preview braking,” which uses sensors to predict an impact and applies some brake force to limit impact speeds, are options.

Infiniti ladles on standard equipment in the G37 Convertible. There’s leather seating, the power folding hardtop, a door-mounted button to lower the roof before entering or after exiting, an MP3-capable sound system, a rearview camera, a navigation system with hard-drive music storage and XM satellite radio with real-time traffic data, and an iPod connection kit that’s quick to index your favorite music. Options include a multispeaker Bose audio system that tunes its output to the car’s top-down status; a climate control system that does the same; heated and cooled seats; and Sport and Premium packages, which toss in 19-inch wheels, Bluetooth, radar-based cruise control, and adaptive headlights.

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible is the rarest of folding hardtops: It gets almost all of its coupe-like lines right, while turning itself into an origami swan when the top’s down.

Infiniti receives a lot of praise for the design of the current G37 sedan and coupe. Reviewers across the Web are surprised that the G37 Convertible is as beautiful as those cars, despite the engineering process that turns it into a sun-driven four-seater. “Designed from the beginning to be a convertible, it’s an inch wider than the G37 coupe and completely new from the windshield back, even if you’d be hard-pressed to tell with the top up,” Leftlane News reports. The elegance of the design is planned, they conclude: “Designers and engineers worked closely to develop a rear deck design that encloses a three-piece folding steel roof without ungainly body proportions and at the same time retains a coupe-like profile when the top is raised.” Autoblog points out the “seamless transition from coupe to convertible,” and explains how clever engineering avoids the typical folding-hardtop pitfalls: “The trunk doesn't bulge upwards like the visually-challenged Volkswagen Eos thanks to a completely redesigned rear suspension.” Jalopnik agrees—“Top up, it's hard to tell it’s not a coupe…Top down and you have something even prettier”—and Automobile makes it unanimous when it declares Infiniti “has created a hardtop convertible G37 that has lost almost none of its elegant coupe sibling's visual appeal.”

The 2009 Infiniti G37 is a true sport sedan; it may be a little harsh for poseurs, but true driving enthusiasts will love it.

While the exterior gets raves, the G37 Convertible’s cabin (shared mostly with the Coupe) wins over more converts. Edmunds loves the "user-friendly controls" and "handsome design," while Car and Driver deems the interior "pleasant enough." Cars.com also feels that the interior of the Infiniti G37 "is a vast improvement over the first-generation G35, and now features such novelties as aluminum trim modeled after Japanese Washi paper." Rounding out the praise of the interior, Edmunds says “soft-touch surfaces throughout the cabin transmit a sense of luxury” and explains the choices of matte aluminum trim “dubbed ‘Silk Obi’ by Infiniti's marketing folks,” or “a stand-alone African rosewood option” for the interior. Leftlane News states simply, the “G37 Convertible fits like a custom glove.”

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible moves quickly and confidently thanks to its powerful V-6 engine, but compared to its Coupe cousin, it’s slower and less nimble due to a massive 400-pound weight gain.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com are suitably impressed with the G37’s one engine option, which Leftlane News reports is “a 325-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 yanked from the hardtops.” Popular Mechanics calls that “nearly identical to the Coupe.” And while Car and Driver measures the G37 Convertible’s 0-60 mph acceleration at 5.5 seconds, it considers the time a letdown: “Kick down the 3.7-liter V-6, and the car seems to think hard for an instant before committing its considerable heft forward.” Compared to a BMW 3-Series convertible or Infiniti’s own G37 Coupe, the times seem slow—though not compared to other performance coupes. The problem? As Car and Driver notes, “Our scales measured it at 4136 pounds, which is 454 more than a manual coupe and nearly 800 pounds more than the Nissan Z on which both are based.”

The G37 Convertible powers its rear wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic, which garners mostly positive reviews in those Web test drives studied by TheCarConnection.com. Leftlane News reports, “The standard G37 Convertible comes with a seven-speed automatic and the Sport 6MT has a six-speed manual.” The former gearbox “comes with rev matching downshift capability and beautifully crafted magnesium paddle shifters on Sport Package models,” according to Popular Mechanics. “Manual shift drivers will like the positive shifter feel, smooth clutch take up, and quicker 3.9:1 final drive,” Leftlane News observes; additionally, the automatic’s “downshift rev matching, Drive Sport (DS) mode and Adaptive Shift Control (ASC)” give quicker shifts and better fuel economy. Most reviewers, including Automobile, “prefer the automatic, which dampens much of the V-6's roughness and provides better off-the-line acceleration, thanks to delightfully short gear ratios.” Edmunds finds itself “happily surprised by its intuitive and responsive nature when placed in Drive Sport (DS) mode. On a twisting roadway it held gears, downshifted when braking for turns and consistently did exactly what we wanted without any driver input.”

Fuel economy is decent, but far from memorable. Edmunds says, “The EPA rates the G37 convertible at 17/25 mpg (20 combined) with the automatic and 16/24 (19 combined) with the manual transmission.”

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible may not have the outright speed or handling of its coupe cousin, but it’s swift and a memorable machine regardless. “Does this additional structure mean the G37 has lost its deft handling? Not really,” Popular Mechanics concludes. “The Convertible is certainly fun to bend into a corner, but perhaps there's a bit less capability to execute those curves at the same speeds as the hardtop model.” Edmunds agrees: “It's not easy to hide 453 pounds, but the Infiniti engineers did a remarkable job of managing the added weight… even the base model riding on standard 18-inch wheels manages its weight in a controlled manner, avoiding excessive wallow or undulation under all but the most aggressive driving circumstances.” Infiniti does offer the Sport option on the G37 Convertible, which adds “14-inch discs up front and 13.8-inch units in the rear, up from the standard 13-inch setup at each corner,” Popular Mechanics explains, along with “quicker steering, aluminum pedals, sport seats and wide 225/45R19 front and 245/40R19 rear tires.” That package “gives the G37 convertible unexpected responsiveness and confidence for a 2-ton machine (4,095 pounds),” Edmunds observes, and Autoblog reports “with the Sport Package's 14-inch discs up front and 13.8-inch rotors in the rear (upgraded over the standard 13-inch discs at all four corners), quicker steering, sport seats and 19-inch wheels, the G37 Convertible can waltz and samba on demand.”

Jalopnik sums it up: “Drive the G37 Convertible in traffic and you have a mild-mannered luxury car…Drive the G37 fast on a country road and you have a responsive, open-air sports car.”

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible offers a cozy cabin for two passengers, but more adults and their luggage will feel left out.

Up front, the G37 Convertible will please just about any passenger. As Car and Driver attests, these riders “get a sumptuous interior, with well-bolstered seats that offer optional headrest speakers, a now familiar and usable center stack, and aluminum trim with a rough, rice-paper-style finish.” In back, though, passengers “have almost five inches less legroom than they would in the back of a BMW 3-series droptop, so they won't be happy,” according to Automobile. “You know that area resembling a rear seat? That's actually the trunk when you put the top down,” Edmunds reports, noting the best and highest use of the small backseat space.

Trunk space is savaged the most by reviews researched by TheCarConnection.com. Automobile snarks, “With the top down, you'd be hard-pressed to fit two Ziploc freezer baggies back there. That is, if you can get the trunk open in the first place - the heavy lid lacks any kind of handle and is difficult to open.” Edmunds points out the storage differences with the top up and top down: “a two-golf-bag trunk, with the top up, becomes a 2-cubic-foot trunk (think Kleenex box) with the top down.” Car and Driver goes scientific, wondering if “the Large Hadron Collider is hard at work looking for a particle small enough to fit into the trunk.”

Reviewers simply can't say enough about what Edmunds calls the "excellent build quality" of the current Infiniti G37 Convertible and the similar coupe and sedan. Kelley Blue Book approves of "the visually soft aluminum alloy trim (inspired by Japanese washi paper, Infiniti says), as well as the optional African rosewood trim," which help bring an upscale ambiance. Motor Trend reviewers conclude that the various interior upgrades "collectively raise the bars of luxury and sport," and they praise the "finer fit and finish" on this Infiniti 2009 coupe.

And in terms of noise, vibration, and harshness, most reviewers feel Infiniti has done an admirable job on the G37 Convertible. “Wind noise with the top up, for instance, is lower than in a comparable soft top, but a subtle hissing at highway speeds (just behind the driver's head) betrays the cutline in the roof that's required for a folding hardtop,” Edmunds reports, while also noting “noticeable body flex over broken pavement.” Popular Mechanics explains the Convertible’s weight gain as a result of the bracing added to keep the car structurally rigid: “Infiniti had to re-engineer the body structure from the A-pillar back.” Leftlane News gives its stamp of approval to “the wind tunnel work [that] has helped keep most of the air out of your face,” while Popular Mechanics singles out the engine note as “one of the coolest-sounding six-cylinders this side of Stuttgart.”

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible comes with a long list of standard safety features, but as of yet, it has not been crash-tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The standard set of safety features outfitted to the G37 Convertible explains its high rating by TheCarConnection.com’s editors. The list includes “a four-wheel disc brake system — including antilock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist technology,” according to Edmunds, along with “standard pop-up roll bars.”

Infiniti’s own Web site and press materials cite other standard safety features as including front airbags, both seat-mounted and door-mounted side airbags, stability control, and active head restraints. Safety options include Intelligent Cruise Control with Preview Braking, which uses sensors to establish a safe speed from vehicles traveling further ahead in the same lane.

Visibility in the G37 Convertible is very good, of course, with the top down. With the top up, it’s still better than in the Coupe: “the narrow roof pillar design (required to make it all fit in the trunk) gives the G37 convertible better outward visibility than the coupe even when the top is up,” Edmunds observes.

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible blends plenty of standard features with upscale options to make most luxury convertible shoppers happy.

First and foremost, the convertible top’s operation is a simple affair, taking “30 seconds to dance elegantly into its hatch,” Popular Mechanics reports. When the top goes down, the G37 Convertible adapts; it can be outfitted with “heated and cooled seats…and even a climate-control system that will adjust the fan according to speed.”

The convertible-specific features also include “an optional adaptive climate control system and the Bose Open Air sound system with headrest-mounted speakers,” Edmunds says, as well as “an available mesh wind blocker [that] keeps air buffeting to a minimum at freeway-plus speeds.”

Standard features on the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible include “leather seats, a double-hand-stitched leather steering wheel (with multifunction buttons for audio and cruise control), dual-zone climate control, a rearview monitor system and a six-speaker CD audio system with MP3 and satellite radio capabilities,” Edmunds says. Optional in packages are features like Bluetooth, Adaptive Climate Control, a 13-speaker Bose Open Air sound system, and the “optional sport seats…(part of the Sport package),” Edmunds adds, which “offer a superb combination of lateral support and comfort.”

Among the options, Infiniti’s “Bose 'Studio on Wheels' premium audio system with iPod connectivity" and a "Music Box 9.3-gigabyte digital music storage unit" are worthwhile features, reports ForbesAutos. And while its controls are simple to figure out, Edmunds wishes there were more “audio adjustment options in the G37 convertible, as both the standard system and the optional Bose system give you only treble, bass, balance and fader controls to play with.”

Buying Tips:

The G37 Convertible is best savored in automatic-transmission form—but if you want to spend more, opt for the navigation and audio systems, which are among the best offered in this class.

Other Choices:

  • 2008 Volvo C70
  • 2008 BMW 3-Series
  • 2009 Volkswagen Eos

Reason Why:

The Infiniti G37 Convertible stacks up against all these hardtop convertibles with four seats and fine performance, and it’s easily the best-looking of the bunch. The Volvo C70 springs for a Scandinavian-inspired interior, turbocharged engines, and a great Dynaudio sound system. The BMW 3-Series Convertible adds about as much weight to its Coupe cousin as does the G37, but its handling is somewhat sharper and its look a little less pleasing. The VW Eos is a Consumer Reports favorite for its top-down action, dual-clutch transmission, and quality interior trim, but it’s less attractive than the G37 Convertible.

The Bottom Line:

The 2009 Infiniti G37 Coupe does a neat convertible trick: it keeps all the charm of the Coupe while opening up more to the world outside.

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