As I’ve documented before, working in the automobile industry gives me the opportunity to drive a wide spectrum of different cars on a regular basis. When it comes to vehicles more than a couple of years old, it’s often just for a mile up the street to the wholesale lot where cars await their journey to auction. Yet every once in a while, for better or worse, I’m tasked with meeting my client with their new car and driving back in their trade. That was such the case with this 2006 Infiniti G35x sedan.
Due to arranging for the installation of white bonnet stripes on her like-new 7,000-mile certified pre-owned 2015 Countryman, my client did not take delivery of her MINI the day she did paperwork, so I offered to bring the car to her when it was complete.
It’s something I generally don’t mind accommodating, especially if the particular client was pleasant and reasonable to work with. So on a recent Thursday evening, I headed to the northwest Boston neighborhood of Brighton with my customer’s new car, all registered, inspected, and striped.
Given the late time of day and the fact that the gate at the dealer (where my own car was securely behind) is locked precisely at closing time of 8PM, I knew I wouldn’t make it back in time, so I got approval to take the trade-in home overnight and bring it back the following morning.
Thankfully, her trade-in wasn’t a terrible car. Though well broken-in with 136,000 miles, body rust, tire pressure and service engine soon lights on, the experience of driving this final-year first generation Infiniti G35x gave me a bit of excitement.
After all, this was the car that brought Infiniti back into temporary relevance, as a BMW competitor, following years of milquetoast “gussied up” Nissan offerings. The G35 brought a powerful glimmer of hope and finally a foreseeable purpose for the premium Japanese brand, and it might as well have been “to infinity and beyond”. Unfortunately, recent years have seen excitement and captivation subside at Infiniti, but in the early-to-mid ’00s, things were really looking up.
In any event, I’ve always been intrigued by this car, despite my dislike of its front end styling, specifically the headlights. I’ve never had the chance to drive a first generation Infiniti G series before, so this was a little treat, despite the car’s age and declining health. In total, I put about 100 miles on the Infiniti, which I affectionately named Tiffani with an “I” not a “Y”, giving me a decent amount of time to get an overall feel for the car. First, let’s start with the good.
In terms of handling, I found this G35x one of the best-handling Japanese cars I’ve every personally driven. Boasting an overall heavy, almost Germanic feel, the Infiniti exhibited no noticeable body roll or chassis flex even when pushing it. Despite debuting 15 years ago, the chassis felt remarkably solid and confident in every circumstance.
With its 280-horsepower 3.5L V6, near-perfect 52/48 weight distribution, and all-wheel drive system that under normal conditions sends 100-percent of the power to the rear wheels, the G35x is both quick and a solid handler. Power kicks in at about 4,000 rmp, requiring a high amount of force on the gas pedal, but proceeds to trust you forward with great force and robust exhaust notes. I would’ve preferred the sexier, better-proportioned G35 coupe, but just like buying a used car, you can’t spec one out as you would with new — what’s available is what you have to choose from.
Steering on the G35, unlike the lifeless “Direct Adaptive Steer” steer-by-wire setup used by the current Q50, uses a more traditional rack-and-pinion setup with hydraulic assist, thus requiring some appreciated arm muscle with every turn. The only drawback of this is that every road bump and vibration is transmitted through the steering wheel.
In terms of luxury and comfort, the G35x delivers with flying colors, boasting a cabin of high-quality fit-and-finish, soft and supportive leather covered thrones, and nearly every technology you could’ve wanted in 2006. Electronic tilt-and-telescoping steering column, attractive matte-finish genuine rosewood veneer, fantastic sounding premium Bose stereo, Bluetooth, and key-less ignition were among its many luxuries.
The weird, inboard-mounted power seat controls, however, were rather odd and took some getting used to, feeling more at home in a Saab. I also was not fond of the unusually high front seat belt buckle, which caused the lap band to cut across mid-chest and not at my natural waist. It felt weird, so I actually wrapped that portion of the seatbelt around the back of the seat, just using the shoulder portion.
I never sat in the back seat, but the rear looked relatively comfortable, if not a bit short on legroom. The steep recline of the rear seat backs also stuck out as a bit too extreme, though it could be the angle of this picture making it seem stronger. Oh well, the less back seat drivers adding unnecessary weight (roughly every 10 extra pounds results in a loss of one horsepower), the better!
The main drawbacks to my G35x driving experience were related to this specific high-mileage example’s maintenance issues and wear. Typical maintenance items such as brakes and tires were in need of replacement. The engine was certainly in need of at least an oil change and tune up, with rough idling giving way to further roughness at highway speeds. In fact, most times as soon as I hit 50 mph, an excessive rattling and vibration was immediately transmitted through the steering wheel.
Overall, the 2006 Infinti G35x is an appealing daily driver to own. It offers a superb balance of performance, comfort, and refinement in a “just-right” size with a healthy dose of distinctive character and spirit, the latter of which is something most Japanese cars sold in North America lack all together. Finding a lower-mileage, better condition example will certainly bring driving joy to anyone on a budget. With average retail prices for good or better condition examples in the $5,000-7,000 range, a 2006 Infiniti G35x is certainly an affordable choice for a fun-to-drive, luxurious car.
Photographed: Maquan Pond in Hanson, Massachusetts – July 2017
1990 Infiniti M30 – To Infinity And Nowhere
1997 Infiniti J30 – Jellybean Jealousy
1999 Infiniti Q45t – The Japanese Lincoln?
2003 Infiniti M45 – The Closest Thing To An American-Style V8 Four-Door Hardtop In A Long Time
Seeing your write up on the car reminded me of my childhood best friends mom’s g35 coupe. We loved riding in that car because of how nice the car was and how fast it felt. Unfortunately they didnt take the greatest care of the car and it got filthy after a couple of months and I remember even at 8 years old having trouble squeezing into the rear seats. After the lease ran out on the car, they replaced with a Jeep Cherokee from the same time period, which I found to be less impressive. I recently drove a later model g35 sedan from this generation and enjoyed how it drove. Thanks for a great write up and reminding me of some good times.
Nice car, we have them here in regular Nissan guise, called a Skyline actually, they are quite popular.
When these were first introduced, I had high hopes that the Infiniti brand was exiting the doldrums and might finally live up to its original promise of being a legitimate Japanese alternative to BMW. Your drive report indicates that this car did in fact succeed in that mission. Too bad it turned out to be a one hit wonder–subsequent generations of the car (including today’s Qwhatevernumber) weren’t as well received and Infiniti has just sort of faded away again.
A few years ago I test-drove a used G35x pretty much identical to the one featured here, right down to the colors and high mileage. I agree with your overall impressions. The example I drove had a surprisingly loud engine roar in the cabin, maybe needed a new muffler as I can’t imagine that much noise being intentional in this car. It also turned out to be a size smaller inside than I had expected, not sure why my expectations were off there. Anyway, I was impressed enough with Infiniti that I ended up finding an M35x of similar age and mileage for not too much more. Bigger, smoother, quieter, and just sporty enough, reasonably reliable for what it is at this point, but a bit of a gas hog. Not sure what I think of Infiniti’s current products – will let you know when they’re 8-10 years old with 150,000 miles on them!
Very fair and well-written review, Brendan – I welcome more of such as you have time. Especially fun to read how an older car holds up over time. There are many older Gs around SoCal, minus the rust!
I bought the next generation G (my avatar) – one of the last of the new 2010s in summer 2010 – a Journey with Premium Package. Although it has only 37,000+miles at present, I still feel free to say it is one of the best cars I’ve owned since my first car, purchased in 1966. Among other things, these cars offered a great value proposition, a formula somewhat abandoned by the Q-series when options were bundled or offered separately in a costly fashion that more closely resembled the German model. As you note, the auto tilt-telescoping steering column, Bluetooth, and other features were up-to-the-minute 11 years ago. The overall balance of the car – weight distribution, ride vs. handling, great steering and braking, right sized – make it a joy to drive. Performance is great, gas mileage is not, at least in urban driving – hence, the move toward the turbo 4 in the new base models of the Q50.
Unfortunately the updated technology for the Q – although greatly needed – was not ready for prime time when first introduced. I understand it is sorted out by now and the Q is selling reasonably well and receiving good reviews (in some ways better as a “driving machine” than the current 3-series BMW).
Thanks! Very nice G37! Infiniti really did a good job with the second generation G’s styling, giving it a more elegant look and smoothing out the awkward angles of the first generation.
Though I’ve sat in examples many times over the years at auto shows, I don’t think I’ve ever actually driven a second generation G either. I agree with you that at the time, they were a good value and packaged well, much like how Acura did it at the time.
Agreed. The second-gen G sedan looks much better. The coupe, I’d probably say the first-gen looks better.
Brendan you have the ideal job for those having a bent toward automotive promiscuity. You don’t have to buy the cow and you get to enjoy an abundance of milk.
Let’s hope this particular Infiniti is an outlier in terms of maintenance and neglect – it also looks rough in spots, particularly the back seat cushion and drivers door. Running rough and having so many lights on the dash illuminated isn’t a good sign at all.
When they tradeoff that Silverado in the background, I’m curious to see what you have to say about it.
Thanks Jason! I like your analogy and believe me, it’s very true. Getting to experience different older cars without having to buy them is a major job perk!
That Silverado is actually owned by my cousin’s husband. She drives an Escalade and the white Wrangler was just bought for their 16-year old who just got his license. They were in Alaska last week and took the opportunity to photograph the Infiniti in the scenic driveway of their house on the lake while I was over feeding their koi… yes, they have a koi pond 🙂
Cars like this fascinate me, but as more of an automotive minimalist I tend to stay away from the more complicated stuff, especially as they (and I) get older.
This is also a reminder that not everyone maintains their cars the way most of us here do. Fortunately, which ones have been cared for in a better-than-average way are easy to spot at this age and mileage.
I will echo some others – what a great job for someone who is into experiencing different cars. Color me envious. 🙂
Indeed. A good majority of the cars we take as trade-ins are in shockingly un-cared for, even regarding the most basic maintenance and cleanliness.
That always makes me wonder–aren’t you going to get more for a well-taken care of, or at least carefully washed and clean, trade-in than a rough one? One of the cars I test-drove my last time vehicle shopping was a ’11 Regal T-Type, very nice car though I didn’t end up buying it, but the salesman had to apologize for the lack of cleanliness of the car as they had just taken it in trade the previous day. Red clay on the carpets, dust all over the dash, and the outside looked like it hadn’t been washed in quite some time. While I could have easily looked past that (I ended up passing on the car due to the price they were asking and higher mileage than I wanted) I really wondered if the owner got clobbered on the trade-in value due to not bothering to clean it up before coming in.
Actually, cleanliness really doesn’t have a strong impact on the trade-in value to a dealer, as if we’re reselling it retail, it will be fully detailed before going on the market anyway.
The main things that detract from trade-in value when appraising a car are:
– Accident history
– Exterior damage beyond minor scratches
– Worn tires in need of replacement
– High mileage
– Any warning lights lit up on the dash
– Interior damage such as rips, major stains, scratched panels
– Smoker’s car
– Maintenance/Mechanical issues detected from a quick drive around the parking lot such as need of new brakes, rough engine, etc.
Basically, anything that will require the dealer to have to put money into the car is what are the major points that will reduce trade-in value.
A really dirty car might have some subconscious affect on the person appraising it, but often times we are giving tentative trade-in values sight unseen to buyers over via email who we’ve never met in person before. Unless the car has some serious flaw, we’ll honor that value.
Yeah — I assume from a dealer standpoint, a superficial wash and detail is really not a big deal.
On one hand, I can see being puzzled that a seller wouldn’t at least spend ten bucks on a drive-through car wash before bringing the car in. On the other, people trading in a car have generally reached a point where they just don’t want to hassle with it anymore, so I can understand that.
Great read, Brendan, on a car I’ve long admired. I do remember when these were new, and sharing your opinion that Infiniti seemed like they were “back” for good. Between these and the FX crossovers, Infiniti seemed like they were on fire in the mid-Aughts.
Yeah, it’s a shame Infiniti kind of went back on the bland wagon with subsequent models. I do find their styling attractive, but other than that, current Infiniti products just don’t really do it for me. They’re still too vanilla in terms of offering any real stand-out or emotional quality.
Nice opportunity, too bad that particular one wasn’t in the best shape.
Or a standard. I’ve always liked the G35 & G37 because you can get a manual gearbox. One of my co-workers has one in very nice shape. If I wasn’t part of a Ford family (and like JPC, an automotive minimalist) this would have been on my short list.
Interestingly, the AWD G35x wasn’t available with a manual. Finding a RWD G35 up in the Northeast would be hard, as basically every dealer of a luxury brand up here regardless of brand only orders AWD vehicles for stock.
I really like these used car driving impressions, would love to read more!
Thanks! Glad there seems to be liking for this type of post by a lot of readers. They’re rather enjoyable to write too. Whenever I get the chance, I try and take a worthwhile trade-in out for a little extra drive, so look forward to more hopefully soon!
I really feel like de Nyschen (sp?) goofed with the model-designation revamp. Let’s-copy-the-Germans alphanumerics made sense in 1990 when the concept of a Japanese luxury car was new to Westerners, Baby Boomers were tne young end of the target market, the internet didn’t exist and driving video games were just moving past 8-bit graphics that could barely convey “car” let alone a distinct make and model.
But the world’s moved on, and what Infiniti really needed to do was adopt the JDM model names so that the G-series would become Infiniti Skyline, the larger sedan Infiniti Fuga etc. A real missed opportunity.
While I usually defend de Nysschen’s alphanumerics (I mean, technically they make more sense than the old EX/FX/M/G/etc), I like your idea. The Skyline name has equity among enthusiasts, and the G and Q50 have always been badged Skyline back home. Why not bring the name to North America?
For many reasons, I dislike the JdN approved changes to Alphanumerics for cars in general, and he did it to both Infiniti and now to Cadillac. Since most of the folks buying either brand are not enthusiasts (some are, I know, but most are not), using the JDM names would have made more sense and helped buyers understand the differences in the models offered. Even now, if you go to a Chevy dealer, they can quickly explain the difference in a Malibu and an Impala, no matter how similar they are. Volvo uses letters to denote body style and that makes more sense (V for wagon, S for sedan, C for convertible). With a history of names for these manufacturers, why did they abandon them for no good reason, other than JdN wanting to leave his scent on the process.
I agree Skyline is a great name for a car, both memorable and aspirational. Fuga, however, would likely be a dud in the U.S. market…
In general, I don’t think Johan deNysschen’s very-late-to-the-party alphanumeric strategy has worked at all. Did the absence of distinctive model names make the Infiniti brand itself more desirable or noticeable? Do ordinary consumers even understand the Infiniti model hierarchy?
Meanwhile, over at Cadillac, the only current model nomenclature that the average person can recall is Escalade–the one unique name deNysschen hasn’t yet tampered with. Bet Cadillac dealers can’t wait until that one becomes the XT9…
Of course, Johan is not the only purveyor of this plague–it has infected many brands, and most seem unaware of how easy the cure can be. Lincoln, for example, seems almost shocked that people love the return of the Continental name (even if the car itself is a letdown) instead of the ridiculous MKmess.
I just hope that the overdone and boring alphanumeric approach ends soon–it is the 21st Century equivalent of the Grand Royal Brougham d’Elegance pox of the late 70s/early 80s.
deNysschen did not start the Cadillac 3 letter name mess. The STS name started in the late 80’s. That kind of went over fairly well, but then the names that they conjured up for the Sigma platform (CTS, STS, SRX) did not make a whole lot of sense. The Cadillac Corvette was called XLR.
The current model names CTx, where x is a number between 1 and 9, with the larger number implying higher end, for sedans seems sensible. The XTx series should be crossovers, except that the XTS is a holdover from the previous scheme, as are the ATS and CTS. I think the new names will be applied when the cars (ATS, CTS) undergo a significant reengineering.
Good points, the real mess did precede deNysschen, but I don’t think he made things better, just different.
STS stood for Seville Touring Sedan, which did make some sense (though it was a mess when applied to the Eldorado Touring Coupe–the infamous ETC). Sad to say, these were the high point for Cadillac’s alphabet names.
Nothing after that worked, and it was unclear what any of the letters even represented. The CT/XT scheme may be slightly more logical, but it is in no way memorable. If you asked consumers “who makes the CT6?” the answer would likely be “I dunno” or maybe Mazda (with the 3, 6, CX-3, CX-5, CX-9).
Cadillac, given its equity as a brand, should have big, bodacious names. That’s why Escalade works and is rightfully well known as a Cadillac model. I’m not advocating the return of the legacy names like DeVille (too badly tarnished), but surely there are other bold names that could really only come from Cadillac.
Before (and for that matter even after) World War Two, Cadillac’s name were basically numbers. The first Cadillac’s were lettered, but when they got the basic car sorted out they called it a Model 30. But in the late 30’s the base Cadillac was a series 60, with the top of the line V8’s series 75. V16’s were series 90.
During the 1950’s the top of the line sedan was the series 60 Special, which was a Fleetwood trim model (series 75 was a commercial limo model). The only named Cadillac’s were the Lasalle and the de Ville. Well, OK, there was Cimarron and Catera, but at this point in time none of these names are good choices for the current production models.
The basic problem is that Cadillac’s current naming scheme probably will not last very long. The current scheme would make more sense if they had renamed all of the current production models to the new system. The SRX (FWD) was a good seller, its replacement, the XT5, is also a good seller, so customers don’t seem to care much. On the other hand, there probably are a lot of elderly customers who would like to see a de Ville. The XTS is probably as close to the de Ville as anything, but a basic CT6 might work too.
I think it would be really interesting to do a deep dive on automotive nomenclature, and the rise of evocative and/or interesting model names. Certainly by the mid-1950s, most American makes were solidly in the “name” camp. Cadillac started pouring them on with Coupe de Ville, Sedan de Ville, Eldorado Seville, Eldorado Biarritz, Eldorado Brougham, Fleetwood Sixty Special. Those names (or variations of them) more or less locked in for the next 30+ years and really became synonymous with the Cadillac brand. When the cars were desirable, the distinctive names just enhanced the appeal. Bad product ultimately wrecked the good names.
But now that Cadillac products are getting better–though not world class they are at least somewhat competitive–it would be a great time to reintroduce real names again. Like so many auto execs, DeNysschen has his playbook and sticks with it. Logical letter/number names worked at Audi (or course they did, that was Audi’s heritage), so he did the same thing at Infiniti, and now Cadillac. But what works for Audi doesn’t mean it’s right for Cadillac, nor will it give Cadillac that added braggadocio it so desperately needs right now.
Land Rover is doing it right. The ill-fated foray into alphanumerics for the U.S. (LR3, LR2) has been dumped, and the line-up now boasts an intriguing array of interesting and/or unique names that fit the brand. Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar, Discovery, Discovery Sport, Evoque. They all sound good, so if you have an Evoque you aren’t immediately pegged as having bought the “cheap one.” Try that with a CT2…
The problem is finding an iconic name to use. For example the Impala is truly iconic for Chevrolet, the Caprice far less so. The BMW 3-series was the low priced (cheap) one till the Series 1, which is now the cheap one. From my point of view the name is irrelevant, it’s what the vehicle is that matters.
Agree that the vehicle itself is the most important thing, but a bad car can wreck a good name, or a good car can suffer with a bad name. Done right, the name and the vehicle work together as an amplifier, thus becoming iconic and more valuable. Think of the Honda Accord and Honda Civic–both names/cars are from the 1970s and both are still strong and relevant today. Honda kept the products fresh and had the sense to stick with the names to build lasting brand equity. For example, most consumers both young and old know what a Civic is and what it stands for–all to the great benefit of Honda and its pricing power and reputation.
I think too many brands are too quick to throw away their nomenclature, especially if a product is subpar (looking at you Cavalier/Cobalt/Cruze) and then wonder why people aren’t clear about what products they offer. Given the scarcity of decent new names, that’s a real blunder. An example of sticking with a good name through thick and thin is the Kia Sportage–the original product and the brand itself were initially considered to be subpar, but succeeding generations served-up far better vehicles. Rather than start over with a new name, Kia stuck with Sportage, and now thanks to good product the name has built up good equity.
I think Cadillac is trying to use a consistent set of names which make some sense but I’m not sure that CTx or XTy is particularly good. Buick still uses names, but their crossover lineup, which is good with 3 to choose from, have names that are meaningless to me.
Brendan, great to hear your thoughts on the G, particularly as a BMW owner.
While never officially sold here, the first-gen G is quite common here as many were imported used from Japan where they were sold as the Nissan Skyline (as Bryce mentioned).
This and the related Stagea wagon regularly make it onto my car-buying shortlist but tend to lose out because I’m uneasy about buying because 1) insurance premiums; 2) rumours of odometer rollbacks on used cars imported from Japan; and 3) a minor quibble, but I don’t want an in-dash nav with everything in Japanese as I can neither read nor speak it (although kudos to those, like my roommate, who choose to learn it… I hear it’s tricky!)
Speedo haircuts are harder to do these days, the odometer gets its info from the ECU not a mechanical cable as in days of yore.
I’d take that car as is at the right price about 3 to 4 K (rust!). I’d give it the obligatory exchange of fluids, spark plugs and brakes. Give it a good bath inside and out and you wouldn’t know or feel the age and mileage.
Excellent job, Brendan. I am rating your write ups on trade ins like this one very high.
Thanks! As I said in a reply to another commenter, I’m glad there seems to be a favorable response to used car driving impressions such as this. Reviews such as this are really enjoyable (an somewhat quicker) to write than other types of articles. I’m happy to do more of these types of posts!
Very nice write up – I would like to see more of these used car reviews. You certainly are living the dream, Brendan, by incorporating your passion into your day job. I have always admired this generation of G35 and thought long and hard about purchasing one of these. The big draw was the Germanic feel to the steering and handling as well as the high level of fit and finish inside. I prefer the front-wheel (or awd) setup for reasons of safety and efficiency and ended up with a fully loaded Passat instead – a very different car but one that was better suited to my needs at the time.
I was living in Fort Lauderdale in ’06, and my boss at the time had just leased a G35, although I’m not sure it was AWD. He raved about it, especially when chiding one of my coworkers, who was then driving a “Bangle Butt” BMW 7-Series (not really the same class of car, but these guys were very competitive, and Ken had a point in that for the sticker price of the Bimmer it could certainly have looked a lot better). I do remember a few rides to lunches or meetings in the Infiniti, and recall being very impressed with the interior and the overall “feel” of the car.
I always kind of liked the front end design. In the early ’00’s it was kind of refreshing, and rather minimalist to my eye. I have an “affiniti” for stacked headlights anyway, and this praticular treatment always reminded me of the Riviera clamshell headlight treatment.
Brendan, I’m okay with the headlights, but the tails have never made any sense, no matter how long I look at them. They didn’t when Chevy ripped them off for the Malibu, either.
I purchased a 2005 G35 6MT sedan (127K but in pristine condition) a year ago to finally replace the loved/hated ’95 9000 Aero I’d had for 7 years. I was looking for another performance sedan but wanted a break from the frequent maintenance that comes with the Euro stuff. Other than a sticky rear brake caliper issue (which I understand isn’t uncommon) it has been absolutely faultless, it does everything it’s supposed to day in and day out. But, after a year of daily driving and hoping it would grow on me I find it just has no soul, no sense of character or personality of any sort. It just does its job coldly and reliably. Interestingly enough, I find the 3/4 front view is the most attractive angle on the car. The rest is “meh” at best.
Speaking as a former owner of a similarly loved & hated ’93 9000CSE, my experience has been that pretty much anything that has followed it has been “soulless” by comparison. I let mine go in 2004 with 365,000 miles on it and “upgraded” to a newly off-lease 2001 9-3, which was far more hated than loved. In general, nothing I’ve driven since that fateful day in ’04 has held a candle to my 9000. But the other side of that coin is that nothing has caused me to even consider expending the time, energy or money that I put into that 9000 either, so there is a benefit to “soulless” disposable transportation, I guess.
Nice review of a car that brought a lot of hope at the time, as a truly capable BMW fighter. I’ve always rather liked them, and was impressed at Nissan’s effort. Too bad it’s rather petered out.
I test drove a low mileage, excellent condition G35 immediately followed by a G37 a couple years ago. I largely agree with Brendan’s assesment, particularly regarding the car’s performance. Fast, good handling, and responsive. Hopping in the G37 immediately after, it was clear that something was lost. Likely the loss of rack and pinion steering, and possibly a change in the gearing or throttle response. The G37 did strike me as a more refined daily driver, but it was obvious why it never garnered the reputation of its predecessor. To my eyes, the G35 coupe styling remains gorgeous (I always found the sedan dumpy), with the exception of the headlights as noted by Brendan. Unlike some other commenters, I never found the G37 coupe design to be as notable.
However, I do have to somewhat disagree with Brendan on fit and finish. Yes, the car felt solid and generally had nice materials. Definitely a step up from Nissans of the era (which frankly isn’t saying much). However, these characteristics are easily surpassed by Lexuses of the same era, and also by most Acuras. There are also some notable design and material flaws in the G35 interior that are hard to get over.
The center console and associated controls are simply atrocious. Stereo/HVAC buttons and controls are reminiscent of a 90s stereo- not a Sony, but rather a cheapo Aiwa. Small, flimsy, plasticky buttons that don’t offer a satisfying click, but just sort of wobble about. Most of these G35s did not come in that wood on black finish, but rather the hideous pewter/beige color also pictured here, or black and grey, both of which include the awful faux metal finish center console that was so popular at the time. I also don’t like the curved bulge that extends across the cabin, the steering wheel design, or Infiniti’s use of orange dashboard lighting. These items (particularly the stereo/HVAC controls) were enough to drop the G35 from consideration.
Agreed, the general direction of Nissan’s interiors in the early-mid 2000s was really off-putting. They went from the standard Japanese formula of simple and perhaps a bit boring to some but quality feeling switchgear and dash materials, to the orange backlit stuff with questionable aesthetics and poor material quality. Between that, the poor rust-proofing, and early CVTs totally put me off of Nissan as a brand.
Yes! Totally agree. I spent a lot of time in 90s Nissan products (Altima, Maxima, J30, and Q45). They all had plain but high quality interiors, exactly as you described. It was all downhill by the 2ks- both in design and materials.
In fairness, many Toyotas suffered the same way. But not quite to the same degree, or as universally, as Nissan. Honda managed to avoid it, although their products lost charm in different ways.
The G35/37 may have been the last car to have a successful mainstream Sedan/Coupe lineup. I can’t think of any others outside BMW? It amazes me Infiniti would sacrifice the equity the G name provided given it was the brand’s biggest success, and shuffle it into the confusing Q series.
I drove an ’03 G35 back when I was car shopping in 2006, and while I liked it, I wasn’t blown away. A good driver but just lacking in …something. I no longer remember what, just that I expected to like it more than I did. Also part of it was the interior–it was not a highly optioned model and had the silver finish rather than the wood around the radio and HVAC controls, and that just looked a little cheap to me. The interior reminded me just a bit too much of the Maxima that I had as a rental at the time, though the materials were better in the G (and the driving experience was night and day).
Always found the sedan handsome enough but the coupe–now *that* was a styling job. Wow those were great-looking cars, and the occasional spotting still turns my head. A friend bought a very low-mileage ’04 6MT coupe in 2005 and made me instantly jealous (I’d not yet driven one at that point). Sadly that car met its end in 2010 when it was t-boned by a power company bucket truck that ran a red light. Completely destroyed, but the cabin held well enough that my friend’s wife (who was driving it at the time) walked away with only mild injuries from what was a pretty scary situation.
These were certainly a lot more grown-up than their R34 Skyline predecessor, but that’s no bad thing – and at least keen drivers could still get a manual transmission if they so desired. They were nice to drive and I like them, and it’s great that the Skyline name is still alive (well, on our JDM imports anyway), but they don’t fill me with the same passion as the earlier series of Skylines. Re the back seat Brendan, it may have the reclining seat option –
some of the Skylines here have it, the control levers are sort of under the belt buckles. The base of the seat slides forward, pulling the base of the seat back with it, thus effecting the recline (and obliterating legroom!).
The CC Effect lives on. I am working in the company offices in Manhattan this week and when I exited our building and started walking toward my hotel this evening, an old G35 was parked across the street (pardon the intrusion of the umbrella in the image – raining quite a lot in the city today). Always liked the cinnamon red color available during these years and this example seems to have survived the perils of NYC fairly well.
Nice post Brendan
I always enjoy reading driving impression stories. I have always liked these G models(even the G20). The G35 is a nice driving car and I am sure a lot of folks cross shopped this car with a BMW 3 Series or Benz C Class.
I also like how Nissan uses that type of keyless ignition setup in a lot of their cars, I think it is a bit more durable then the button on the dash setup.
The only thing that confounds me is why the G35 seems to be impervious to rust except for on the bottom of the doors. A lot of G35 that live in my area have this issue. The local dealership I hang out with had a 2006 G35 for sale last year and it had the rusty door issue. However it was completely clean on the underside and there was no rust at all on the rest of the car.
Great review and impressions.
Brendan, you drove a G35x, the AWD version.
I would wonder what the RWD model’s handling would be, by comparison – being a bit lighter in curb weight and with a different weight distribution.
I concur with other posters on the dashboard’s appearance – it kinda looks cheapo for its segment, particularly the center console, though the version with the woodgrain improved the look.