There was once a time when Japanese automakers joined their colleagues from Detroit in celebrating the concept of the personal luxury coupe. When the Lexus and Acura divisions of Toyota and Honda first began to make their initial forays into the North American market, they not only unveiled a line of luxury sedans but also made sure that they each provided full-size two-doors to compete against the vehicles that were coming out of Lincoln and Cadillac. While these larger coupes stemmed from a somewhat different design philosophy - manual transmissions and in some cases V-6 engines were standard - the customer they competed for was the same.
Unfortunately, the market for full-size coupes began to soften as the 1990s wore on, and by the end of the decade even stalwarts Lincoln, who had been producing a luxury two-door for almost three decades had bowed out of the mix. Cadillac continued to soldier on for a few more years, but buyers had shifted their attentions over to sport-utility vehicles and were now more interested in funneling their conspicuous consumption dollars into ever-larger trucks.
Infiniti had been watching the action from the sidelines as the company gradually began to seek greater differentiation from Nissan. The manufacturer was no longer content to merely re-badge sedans from their parent corporation and felt that perhaps the mid to full-size premium coupe market, which had been almost completely neglected past the year 2000, offered the perfect chance to establish a new Infiniti beachhead in the United States. By leveraging a brand new platform, both Nissan and Infiniti were able to build different coupes that used similar mechanicals wrapped in a unique skin.
The resulting vehicle, the Infiniti G35 coupe, made its debut in 2003 and immediately assumed the role of competitor to the German sports coupes offered by BMW and Mercedes-Benz. With beautiful lines, a powerful engine and excellent chassis dynamics, the G35 redefined what people could expect in a luxury coupe. Gone were the days of awkward body roll and disconnected handling and in their place was a hot rod that offered the same creature comforts as the sedans in the Infiniti showroom. The Infiniti G35 rode a wave of adulation into the hearts of well-heeled sports car enthusiasts who had finally found a viable all-around performer that stepped outside of the luxury sedan standard.
This article covers the first generation of the Infiniti G35 and explains what makes it so appealing as the best used coupe available from the Japanese luxury brand.
2003 - 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe
When approaching a 2003 - 2006 Infiniti G35 coupe for the first time, most buyers cannot help but be struck by the sheer attractiveness of the design. With a broad, open face and strong rounded sheet metal the G35 succeeds at looking sleek and powerful without resorting to the blunt aggressiveness that was characteristic of other sports cars at the time. While the vehicle bears a passing resemblance to the Nissan 350Z, the passenger compartment is stretched and offers a rear seat, which the Nissan does not. Styling was slightly updated in 2006.
The G35 coupe features the Nissan VQ engine, a 3.5-liter V-6 that has served the company well in a wide variety of applications. In the 2003 - 2004 Infiniti G35 coupe it produces 280 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, but in 2005 the 6MT package was added, which not only included a 6-speed manual transmission (in place of a 5-speed automatic), but also threw in an additional power boost that saw total engine production rise to just under 300 ponies. Handling on this sport model is exceptional, thanks to a re-tuned suspension and the availability of a limited-slip differential to help prevent wheel spin. Rear-wheel steering, long a Nissan pet project, is optional on later models of the vehicle.
The interior of the coupe lives up to the promise of the automobiles performance and handsome good looks. Starting in 2005 all G35 coupes were outfitted with standard leather seats, and a winter package adds seat heaters to keep drivers toasty in colder climates. Automatic climate control, an analog clock and steering wheel controls for the stereo system highlight some of the car's standard features, and the back seat is quite suitable for adults - a surprise in this class of vehicle.
The 2003 - 2006 Infiniti G35 coupe is an exceptional value as a used coupe, especially compared against the pricier and less well-appointed Teutonic competition.