Posted Jan 8th 2013 2:58PM
Infiniti rolled out the IPL version of its G37 Convertible at the Los Angeles Auto Show more than a year ago. The Infiniti Performance Line treatment logically mirrors that of the IPL G Coupe, meaning it receives both cosmetic and mechanical tweaks designed to raise the pulse of driving enthusiasts. Aside from the overstated aerodynamic styling components and huge exhaust tips, the cabin features special leather upholstery, aluminum trim and IPL badging to distinguish it from lesser siblings. Under the hood, the 3.7-litre V6 (VQ37VHR) has been recalibrated to deliver 343 horsepower – 18 more than the standard coupe – and 273 pound-feet of torque. The suspension has been upgraded with firmer spring and stabilizer bar rates, multi-piston sport brakes are fitted and 19-inch graphite-finish wheels wrapped with summer rubber are bolted on. There are only two exterior color choices (Moonlight White and Malbec Black) and two upholstery choices (Stone and IPL-exclusive Monaco Red). Everything sounds marvelous until someone reveals its as-tested $67,300 window sticker.
- The three-section steel roof raises and lowers in a leisurely manner – give it about 30 seconds each way. While it is marvel to watch, the operation seems clunky, not fluid. Buttoned up, with all four windows closed, the cabin is comfortable. Wind noise is minimal and the front buckets coddle passengers in all the right places. While tight, those of smaller stature will find the two rear seats tolerable for short journeys (my kids never complained). Outward visibility is also very good for a convertible – no impeding B-pillar.
- Top down driving is pleasant, with wind buffeting minimal even without the optional rear wind deflector (on the window sticker, but missing from my tester). I rolled up the windows, turned the climate-controlled front seats on high, cranked the heater and blasted the impressive 13-speaker Bose audio system. Roofless driving in 10-degree celsius temperatures was bearable. (Note: When the convertible top is stowed away, the already small trunk is basically nonexistent)
- Infiniti's IPL-tweaked V6 looks great on paper, but it struggles to move the droptop with real authority. Blame a curb weight of 1,900 kilograms (4,189 pounds) – a whopping 181 kg (400 pounds) more than the IPL G Coupe – and a very uncooperative seven-speed automatic transmission. Peak horsepower and torque come late in the power band, yet the slushbox wants to shift early. While things are slightly better in Sport mode, or with the manual magnesium column-mounted paddle shifters, it doesn't feel nearly as quick in real-world driving as its published acceleration times would indicate. My overall average fuel economy was also a less-than-impressive 16.8 mpg EPA (14 L/100km).
- Those goofy cannon-size exhaust tips (each is 120 mm (4.75-inches) across) deliver a drone that becomes downright annoying at some speeds. Even more frustrating, there is noticeable body flex – this is not a very stiff convertible – and minor squeaks and groans became evident when the road got rough.
- The upgraded suspension provides a harsh ride, but little else. The Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires are capable, but when pushed, their narrow front contact patches – only 225/60YR19 – quickly scrubbed in protest of the two-plus tonnes of mass abusing them. The brakes calipers are beefy, but the street-compound pads don't instill confidence.
- A high sticker price, middling performance and other small annoyances really work against the Infiniti IPL G Convertible, especially when you consider that the same money will put a base BMW 335is Convertible, Audi S5 Cabriolet or even a Shelby GT500 Convertible in the driveway.