By Paul Williams; photos
by Chris Chase, Autos.ca
Since their introduction in 2003, the “G” series of Infiniti vehicles has been a major success. Starting with the G35 and moving to the G37, the celebrated VQ engine was one of the key ingredients of that success. Impossibly smooth, refined and powerful, the current 328-horsepower, 3.7-litre version of this V6 engine continues the tradition.
But the engine also contributes to cost, and unlike other luxury vehicles, it was, until this year, the only engine option available for Infiniti “G” buyers.
That changes with the G25. Driving the price down by about $3,000 and reducing fuel consumption by nine to 11 per cent (according to Infiniti), the G25 is powered with a 2.5-litre V6 engine making 218 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. It is available in rear-wheel drive G25 and G25 Sport, and G25x (all-wheel drive) and G25x Sport versions, starting at $36,390 for the G25 sedan. Although no manual transmission is offered, the G25 models feature a seven-speed automatic with Drive Sport mode and the option of paddle shifting.
Our Asgard Grey $45,460 (plus $1,920 freight) G25x Sport represented the upper end of the price spectrum for the G25.
The “base” G25 includes such features as 17-inch aluminum wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, leather upholstery, 8-way power driver’s seat, automatic temperature control, aluminum interior trim, heated seats, intelligent key system with push-button start, XM satellite radio and a full power group. Other than a missing Bluetooth, it’s well-equipped at this price.
The G25x adds all-wheel drive, along with driver’s memory seat, power tilt and telescopic steering column, moonroof, premium Bose audio system and a rear sonar system. The G25x Sport arrives with a Touring Package that ads a rear-view monitor, auto dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth, dual zone climate control, eight-way power passenger seat, 18-inch aluminum rims, unique front fascia and side sills, sport seats with power torso and thigh side adjustment, aluminum pedals and footrest and magnesium paddle shifters.
All-wheel drive couldn’t have been more welcome during our test period, as the weather included copious amounts of rain, freezing rain and snow, with heavy storms and challenging driving conditions throughout. The performance of the G25x in these conditions was brilliant. The all-wheel drive system was stellar on the ice and snow, and the car was completely stable and controlled no matter how deep the snow or poor the driving surface.
Needless to say, I’m a fan.
In addition, the balance, ride and handling of the G25x also impressed. I like the car’s sharp steering and road-hugging demeanour; it feels like the centre of gravity is low, and has a distinctive character because of this. Unlike the G37 Sport, however, the G25 Sport version doesn’t offer special suspension settings or sport-tuned steering.
But the engine was something of a puzzle. Initially when driving the car without prior knowledge of its drive-train, I assumed the engine was a four-cylinder (because of its small displacement). My experience behind the wheel did nothing to dispel this assumption, as the engine generates a typical four-cylinder low-level vibration through the steering wheel and gearshift at idle, can be loud under acceleration and does not feel particularly powerful from a standstill. Recall that the G25x’s V6 makes 187 lb.-ft. at 4,800 rpm, while the competing Audi A4 (with only a four-cylinder engine) generates 258 lb.-ft- torque at 1,500 rpm).
But the G25x engine is not a four-cylinder, of course; it’s a six. Using the available Drive Sport mode does provide a bit more punch and immediacy to the accelerator, and it blips the throttle when downshifting which adds a sporty note. But all-in-all, I found the engine to be poor competition for the Audi’s I4, the BMW’s silky smooth 3.0-litre I6, and especially for the mighty VQ in the G37: more on that later.
Settled in front of the power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, you’ll find the sport seats are very comfortable and supportive. The additional adjustment (thigh, torso) is appreciated, although the side-mounted controls are fiddly to operate. Visibility is excellent all-around, with thin a-pillars affording excellent outward visibility to the front, and the optional rear-view camera helping when backing up.
There is a manual mode to the transmission, engaged by sliding the gearshift to the left which activates the Drive Sport mode. You then using the paddle shifters as desired, but I suspect it’s an option that the majority of drivers will seldom use in normal driving. There is also a “snow” mode which neuters the power in order to prevent wheel-slip, but in my experience the AWD and winter tires rendered this unnecessary.
Layout of the dashboard and instrument panel is logical and clear. The signature Infiniti analog clock sits mid-centre stack, looking too dainty for a sports sedan, and the piano-key switches with joystick-style controller seem over-thought. It all works, though.
The trunk is of small-to-average size (382 litres) for the segment, containing a ski pass-through but lacking the ability to split and fold. Otherwise the interior is nicely tailored (especially the seats) with pleasant soft-touch panels and aluminum trim throughout.
Our car didn’t have navigation, but a compass is displayed in the mirror and a trip computer is supplied. You can keep track of your fuel consumption history with the latter, and get a good sense of highway and city numbers. In our case, the G25x returned a combined city/highway rating of 11.4 L/100 km, with 8.5L/100 km on the highway at a sustained speed of 90 km/h. The “official” estimates are 10.6/7.3 L/100 km, city/highway.
The exterior design is appealing. The car looks high-end, with sleek lines and dynamic but elegant surfaces. The car’s strong point, in my view, is its driving dynamics (with one exception), especially handling which is sporty and agile. This car’s a real pleasure to drive.
But here’s the thing: the engine is so-so, especially compared with that of the G37x, which you can buy — albeit not in “Sport” trim — for $2,000 less than the G25x Sport. Sure, it’ll cost you a few dollars more to drive the G37x, but you can apply your $2,000 savings to the cost of fuel and over three years you’ll still have some money left.
What will you lose by eliminating the “Sport” specification? The 18-inch wheels, some exterior trim and interior convenience items. What will you gain? Well, test drive them back-to-back and it will all become clear.
Pricing: 2011 Infiniti G25x Sport
Base price: $45,540
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $47,460
Crash test results