SAN FRANCISCO –Motor Co. Ltd. already has generated a fair amount of excitement with the all-new 350Z – the reincarnation of the legendary Datsun Z car. But in truth, Nissan is bringing two dynamic, high-performance coupes to the U.S. market in the coming months.
The 350Z may be the most highly anticipated new car of the ’03 model run, but its sibling, the Infiniti G35 sport coupe, in some ways will prove more desirable to certain buyers.
|Infiniti G35 coupe|
The G35 coupe is the smaller sibling to the G35 sport sedan, which arrived in March to universal raves with its segment-dominating power (260 hp), compelling style and world-class ride and handling.
The coupe, which goes on sale in November, one-ups the sedan with even more power (280 hp), better handling and sexy good looks (see related story: Nissan's Infiniti Nudges Closer to German Valhalla).
The G35 coupe will have a base price of under $30,000. The sedan also starts in the same price range ($27,100), but its average transaction price has hovered around $32,000, suggesting G35 sedan buyers are more interested in luxury and good looks than in all-out white-knuckled joy riding.
G35 sedan buyers also have had to settle for an automatic gearbox with Infiniti’s capable Range Select manual-mode shifting. G35 coupe buyers, however, are treated to the same 6-speed manual transmission that spins the wheels of the new Z car.
If they prefer an automatic gearbox, G35 coupe buyers get a much more entertaining Gear Select auto-shift transmission that allows spirited dashes for the red line. For the record, G35 sedan buyers can opt for the 6-speed manual beginning in December.
The G35 sedan and coupe and 350Z hail from’s all-new rear-drive FM (Front Mid-ship) platform. The standard powertrain for all three vehicles is the excellent and constantly improving 3.5L DOHC V-6 engine.
For the coupe, Infiniti engineers say a reduction in exhaust back pressure made for improved air flow – and an additional 20 hp over the sedan.
The sedan and coupe may be siblings, but the resemblance lies deep under the skin. For instance, the sedan and coupe share not a single piece of exterior sheet metal. They have different grilles, headlamps, taillamps and exhaust systems. The coupe is lower, wider and shorter than the sedan. Likewise, the coupe is wider and slightly longer than the 350Z.
How does the G35 coupe handle? We can’t say until Oct. 1, when Infiniti lifts its embargo on driving impressions. But whatever you’ve read about the 350Z probably stands true to some extent for the G35 coupe.
But the coupe has something the Z car lacks – a back seat. Granted, any male adult of medium height will feel cramped in the 2+2 configuration. But children will fit comfortably, and the extra space will be useful for long weekends.
Infiniti officials are unconcerned that the G35 might swipe sales from the 350Z. G35 buyers should be slightly older and more affluent, they say, while Z car buyers will be seeking pure performance. Infiniti plans to sell 12,000 G35 coupes in the first year.