2012 Infiniti IPL G Coupe Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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What's the hottest brand in North America? That's a no-brainer. Apple, of course. The electronics company took first and second place with its iPhone and iPod in this year's annual NewMediaMetrics LEAP (Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit) index that measures how much we love our corporate icons. And what brand took third? Audi? BMW? Mercedes? Not a chance. Third place went to Infiniti, and after a week with a new G37 Coupe in top-line IPL trim it's easy to understand why.

It starts out with styling that begs you to turn your head as you walk away, and finishes off with a driving experience that never makes you want to walk away in the first place. The G Coupe starts out as enticing as anything the premium two-door class offers in base trim, and then builds on the G37 with a boost in output from 330-horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque to 348-horsepower and 276 lb-ft. This isn't BMW M3, C63 AMG or even Audi S5 power, but at $59,150 including destination it's a relative bargain compared to the hotrod Bimmer or Merc, and thanks to slightly less overall mass than the Ingolstadt coupe it more than keeps pace.

Infiniti paints its IPL Coupe with a bolder stroke than the S5, per se, in that its aerodynamic upgrades are more aggressively penned. The revised front fascia gets a sharply protruding air splitter, while bulging rocker panel extensions flank each side before the updates trail off in a larger rear deck lid spoiler and big fat chrome exhaust pipes. It would be subtle for a tuner, but it's pretty intense for an OEM.

I like what Infiniti's done to the interior, too, albeit a softer, gentler approach. The "Silk Obi" aluminum trim is a nice touch if a bit overstated, while red contrasting stitching on the black leather steering wheel ties in nicely with the optional red leather upholstery; rich in a classic sports coupe way. I fell in love with a '73 Fjord Blue painted BMW 3.0 CSi Coupe with red leather seats and trim when I was a young man, and while Infiniti doesn't have such deep roots the IPL's cabin pulls fond memories of particularly pretty two-door hardtops of the past. My own '67 Maserati Mexico, for instance, was improperly painted a deep Mercedes blue by its previous owner, while he dyed its original natural-finished hides a gorgeous red that was also an atrocity, but an attractive one that I forgave him for after living with it for a year or so. The IPL designers need no chastisement for offering blood red sport seats, especially considering how beautifully the rest of the interior is detailed, with superb fit, finish and materials quality.

The authorities might want to chastise the engineering department though, as this car brings out the insolent adolescent in me. It's furiously quick and astoundingly stable at high speed, whether blasting down the highway or slinging it through a serpentine section of two-lane bliss. Its 20-percent stiffer front and 10-percent firmer rear spring rates and sportier dampers execute their jobs to perfection. Additionally, braking power is absolute and pretty well fade-free, not to mention the 14-inch front discs and big 4-piston binders look stunning behind the IPL's fabulous 7-twin-V-spoke alloy rims on 225/45R19 front and 24540R19 rear rubber.

There's a lot of technology that drives this car, and of course Infiniti hasn't held back in the personal connectivity tech department either. Actually, NewMediaMetrics points to Infiniti's technology leadership as one of the reasons North American consumers feel so attached to the brand, and I must admit that any car that makes me feel and "sound" like a better driver scores big points with me. Sophisticated performance-tuned traction and stability control keeps the IPL Coupe pinned to its chosen lane no matter the road conditions, while the 6-speed manual transmission's unusual capability of electronically matching revs on downshifts, just like the optional paddle-shift actuated 7-speed automatic, made me sound like a pro even when I wasn't paying attention. Of course I can blip the throttle on my own and more often than not get the revs right as I shift from fourth to third, third to second and so forth, but Infiniti's engineers make each flick of the wrist a perfect shift, the 3.7-litre V6 snarling just the right growl and lessened backpressure from the sport exhaust blatting out the ideal level of rasp. It's a sensational mechanical melody that stirs a car guy's adrenaline in ways that a number of its contemporaries could only hope to imitate. I'm sure car girls will get a similar thrill, I just can't comment on that for obvious reasons.

I'm a bit of a tech geek too, having lined up a couple of weeks ago to be one of the first to own an iPhone 5 (more so because my old Blackberry Torch had completely ceased functioning a few days earlier) and I'm writing this review on my new retina display-enhanced MacBook Pro (albeit due to my MacBook air having been stolen; hence no original photos of this car for your enjoyment), so Infiniti's big, beautiful colour infotainment screen with landscape navigation and a reverse monitor is a bonus indeed. The 11-speaker Bose audio system plays all genres well, from the nuances of Mendelssohn to the rapid riffs of Them Crooked Vultures it's a stereo that'll keep you fully entertained. Of course it's completely connectable to said iPhone or any other Bluetooth audio streaming device, or if you'd rather chill to XM satellite radio, it comes standard too.

Of course, the aforementioned seats are eight-way powered, heated and cooled while dual-zone automatic climate control takes the guessing out of setting the right temperature, and proximity sensing remote access and pushbutton ignition makes for a classy entrance (i.e. no fumbling for keys), but the car's foot-operated parking brake is a bit of a disappointment in a class filled with electronic parking brakes; especially in a car that would get no complaint for having a classic handbrake.

But that, my friends, is the IPL Coupe's only shortcoming. It's feature-filled, refined, fast, agile, and looks bloody hot, easily living up to the brand lust Infiniti owners crave.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Infiniti, 2012, G37 Coupe, IPL Coupe, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Infiniti

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