For most car buffs, there are few joys that are greater than driving a convertible with the top down in beautiful weather, but things always get better when a healthy dose of performance is factored into the equation. When raw, go-kart-like enthusiasm is desired, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is a go-to convertible and the Ford Mustang is always an easy choice when balancing performance with practicality and price, but for those looking for a convertible that adds luxury to all of the above traits, Infiniti introduced its all-new G37 Convertible late last year. Following the success of the redesigned G37 Sedan and Coupe, the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible uses a three-piece retractable hardtop to transform from a sexy coupe to a fun-to-drive convertible in about 30 seconds.
Competing against such convertibles as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A5 and, of course, the Lexus IS C, Infiniti's all-new G37 Convertible is available in two trim levels (base and Sport 6MT) with prices starting at $43,850. Stepping up just $50 from the base price, the Sport 6MT adds more performance goodies including the key difference which is the six-speed manual transmission. Fortunately, Infiniti dropped off a well-equipped G37 Convertible Sport 6MT for me to drive with a few option packages that raised the as-tested price up to $50,365 which is about on par for luxurious convertibles. Despite the unusually cold, wintry Florida weather during most of my time with the new Infiniti convertible, the conditions proved to be a great way to test the car in conditions that most consumers would actually have to deal with when the weather isn't 80 degrees and sunny. After a week behind the wheel of the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible, it was instantly clear that the car was designed as a convertible with almost no compromises to its coupe counterpart.
2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible Exterior
In what seemed to be a common theme with the G Convertible, Infiniti managed to remove the G37's fixed roof and replace it with a retractable hardtop without compromising the car's stylish lines. Unlike most convertibles, the drop top version of the G37 keeps most of the sleek design of the coupe although it uses unique sheet metal from the A-pillars back. Up front, the G37 Convertible features the same sculpted fender arches that seemingly flow back from the headlights that feature integrated fog lamps. Even the beltline and the rounded rear quarter panels help preserve the Coupe's styling, while the roof and body cut lines are the key distinguishing elements to the convertible. Infiniti managed to avoid giving its convertible a long, unflattering rear end by carrying the athletic rear fender lines back through the decklid and keeping the short front and rear overhangs.
For a more aggressive stance, the width of the G37 Convertible has been increased by more than an inch, but this manages to be hidden well thanks to the wide, rounded wheel opening and the wider rear track which helps to better fill in the wheel openings. As if the G37's athletic body lines and sporty stance don't portray enough of the car's performance capabilities, Infiniti finished off the G37 Sport 6MT with large, chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets and 19-inch, 10-spoke aluminum wheels wrapped in stickier summer-rated tires. This test car came in the popular Athens Blue color with extensive chrome trimming on the front grille, beltline and rear decklid.
2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible Interior
Like the exterior, the cabin of the G37 goes through an almost seamless transition from coupe to convertible form with the biggest compromises being an unavoidable loss of rear-seat space and cargo space in the trunk. For front seat occupants, there is almost no telling the G37 coupe and convertible apart as they both feature a stylish design that balances sport and luxury. This balance is most obvious in the front seats which provide plenty of support for comfortable cruising while simultaneously providing plenty of side bolstering for more spirited driving. As is expected from any luxury division like Infiniti, the cabin materials used as well as the fit and finish are remarkable. One area commonly overlooked on convertibles is the window sealing and the headliner, but the G37 Convertible excels in both of these areas with almost no wind noise and a headliner that is fit for a luxury vehicle.
Making this particular vehicle even more luxurious, it was equipped with the optional Premium Package and the Navigation Package. The $3,050 Premium Package added a 13-speaker Bose audio system that included four speakers built into the front seat headrests, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, driver's seat memory function and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The $1,850 Navigation Package added Nissan's advanced touch-screen navigation system, XM NavTraffic and a 9.3-gigabyte hard drive for music storage. Finishing off the option list, the G37 Convertible also added illuminated 'Infiniti' door sill kick plates.
One of the major disadvantages of a retractable hardtop is the amount of space required to store the top when it is down, and the stylish hindquarters of the G37 doesn't help much either. While all convertibles suffer when it comes to cargo capacity, the rounded edges and coupe-like decklid greatly reduce the available storage capacity. With the top up, the G37 Convertible offers up to 10.3 cubic feet of storage space, but with the top tucked away into the trunk, available space is limited to just 1.9 cubic feet.
2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible Performance & Handling
Sharing the Nissan FM platform with other models such as the Infiniti FX and the Nissan 370Z, there are no compromises when it comes to performance and handling capabilities of the G37 Convertible. Although the new G Convertible uses the same 3.7-liter V-6 as the G37 Sedan and G37 Coupe, it is detuned slightly to produce 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque (down from 330 hp and 270 lb-ft in the Coupe). Just like the trim level designation suggests, the only transmission available on the G37 Sport 6MT model is a six-speed manual transmission, and the only people who are likely to buy the less-equipped base model are those consumers who refuse to drive manual transmission vehicles. The base model is still a sporty car with the seven-speed automatic transmission that offers a manual shift mode and downshift rev matching. In the end, the EPA estimated fuel economy is about average for this segment of cars with 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.
Even though the G37 Coupe was able to avoid the odd and bulky styling that commonly affects convertibles (especially retractable hardtop models), Infiniti also worked hard to maintain the same level of performance and handling despite the added weight from the three-piece top and required structural reinforcements. The rear suspension was modified and the rear track was widened by 1.2 inches to give the G37 Convertible a coupe-like driving dynamic despite the additional 448 pounds of curb weight. The G37 still offers impressive cornering, but this test model was also equipped with optional ($370) high-performance brake pads that Infiniti calls R Spec High Friction pads for reduced brake fade caused by high-speed stopping maneuvers.
2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not tested the Infiniti's new convertible, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) lumps all of the G37 models together without breaking out the coupe, sedan and convertible. With the IIHS listing the G37 as a mid-size luxury car, it's likely that this rating only applies to the sedan since the coupe and convertible are classified as subcompact vehicles. Regardless of official ratings, the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible does come standard with plenty of safety equipment including four airbags, active head restraints, pop-up roll bars, electronic brake-force distribution, four-wheel anti-lock brake system, tire pressure monitoring system, traction control and vehicle dynamic control.
When it comes to a modern convertible that does not compromise styling, luxury, performance, comfort and price, the all-new Infiniti G37 Convertible is probably the best option on the market. Introduced for 2009, the all-new G Convertible maintains the same sportiness and sleek styling as its coupe counterpart, but with the added enjoyment of an open-air cabin. The 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible not only looks like the coupe with the retractable hardtop in place, but it also features a level of quietness and refinement in the cabin that is almost identical to the sporty and luxurious G37 Coupe.
Select photos by Jeffre N. Ross.
Infiniti provided a vehicle for this review.