For the longest time, the Infiniti line has struggled to gain a market hold in the high-end luxo cruiser segment.
Yes, entry-luxe buyers line up to lease G sedans (and they're bound to be showing interest in the new Q50), but Infiniti lacks a passion-stirring ride like that of Mercedes-Benz's AMG, Audi's RS or BMW's M lineup.
The G37 IPL attempts to fill that spot in both hardtop coupe and folding hardtop convertible forms. Does it offer a preview of great things to come under the IPL moniker? We decided to find out.
What is it?
The second in the Infiniti Performance Line, the G37 IPL Convertible is the top-doffing twin of the firm's highly respected hardtop coupe. Configured in a front-engine, rear-drive setup, it shares its Nissan FM platform with the Infiniti M, EX and FX model of cars, as well as the Nissan 370Z. In other words, almost all of them.
Notably, the G37 has been renamed Q60 for 2014 as Infiniti attempts to revamp its naming scheme.
Power for the G37 IPL comes from an uprated version of the 3.7-liter V6 found in the standard G37. Fed by a multi-port fuel injection system, it features an air-fuel remix and ignition timing improvements over the standard model. That's good enough for a modest increase of 18 horsepower and 6 more lb-ft of torque to 348 horsepower at 7,400 rpm and 273 lb-ft at 5,200 rpm respectively, vs the 330 ponies and 267 lb-ft of the regular engine.
The engine is mated to an electronic seven-speed automatic transmission with downshift rev-matching and a quick shifting Drive Sport (DS) mode that clicks through the use of magnesium paddle shifters and adaptive shift control which learns the driver's habits. The paddles are also usable in drive mode, which allows the driver to grab any desired gear before the gearbox reverts back to the standard configuration.
The IPL Convertible rides on an independent suspension with front double wishbones and a multilink kit at the rear. Both ends get stabilizer bars, and HF shocks with specific damping control. Steering is through a speed-sensitive power rack and pinion setup, while braking happens with four-pot calipers and 14-inch rotors in front, and two-pot clampers in the rear clinching down on 13.8-inch rotors.
Infiniti finally got smart and outfitted the IPL with graphite-colored 19-inch alloy wheels that look quite badass while at the same time going a long way to hide the dreaded brake dust.
At nearly $65,000, the G37 IPL is ferociously expensive, although it's not really out of line with rivals.
What's it up against?
The typical G37 IPL Convertible shopper will probably examine the Audi S5 Cabriolet and BMW 335is Convertible before they pull the trigger on that dealer finance offer.
All of these al-fresco tourers are worthy contenders offering satisfying ride and comfort at the mid-luxury level. Only the Audi comes with a canvas convertible roof.
How does it look?
The G37 IPL Convertible is one of the nicer executions of hardtop convertibles available. Not having the slightly awkward and tallish greenhouse of the BMW or the soft ragtop appeal of the Audi, it offers a look that is handsome, topless or not.
From an appearance standpoint, starting with the Infiniti double-arch grille to the sweeping pontoon-inspired fenders, the look has remained the same since our first encounter with an IPL in 2011.
A subtle IPL badge proclaiming it as such is the only giveaway that this is the hot-rodded version of the G37 convertible. If there were a downside, it would have to be the pair of oversized chrome exhaust finishers, which tend to have that J.C. Whitney Catalog add-on appearance to them.
And on the inside?
The interior is nicely turned out in Monaco Red leather with aluminum accents and black soft touch material throughout. Well-designed, it doesn't break away from any of the other models introduced in the Infiniti lineup. The leather-wrapped steering wheel offers good feel and easy access to the magnesium alloy paddle shift levers, as well as all the redundant controls that help to prevent driver distraction while having to reach away from the wheel.
We enjoyed the feel of the bright red buckets and the well-placed Bose speakers, part of that brand's 13-speaker "Open Air" sound system, on either side of the head restraints. They helped to pump up the dBs to overcome the road noise that did seem to intrude inside the cabin.
The good-looking rear seats, while not terrible in their execution, should only be used in small doses lest you have a chiropractor on your payroll. They are capable of holding two if the front seaters move forward.
In other words, it's for a quick run to the multiplex or shopping mall.
At 10.3 cubic feet, luggage space is tight in the trunk, and tighter still (1.9 cu ft) if you choose top-down motoring for your day. Trunk cargo capacity with the roof in the open (stowed) position is almost non-existent.
But does it go?
The IPL's V6 displays great acceleration thanks to its power boost and it also handles a lot better than the standard model. Still, it has the feel and characteristics of a luxury sport tourer rather than a high performance ride, attributes it owes more to a less-than-rigid structure than anything else.
Counteracting that softness, the Bridgestone Potenza tires offered substantial grip. The downside? There seemed to be a fair amount of road noise transmitting into the cabin, even with the roof in the closed position.
Standing-start acceleration, while absent the sensation of a size 12 to a driver's chest, is still enough to appeal to passionate drivers. The senses of sight, sound, and speed are all touched upon and had us coming back for more. The blips of the throttle while in Drive/Sport mode telegraphed to us that rev-matching is at work when downshifting, and the paddle shifters were more than eager to accept our commands of the seven-speed gearbox. In an era of increasingly slushy automatics, this Infiniti's unit stands apart for its rock-solid feel and rapid-fire cog changes.
With those excellently bolstered seats keeping us firmly in place, the corner cutting abilities of the car were greatly enhanced by the uprated suspension kit. The increased spring rate at front and rear helped the IPL to track flat through the turns, and when combined with the added control of the paddles, made for a mostly satisfying ride once we adjusted our notion that this isn't a genuine sports car.
Mileage for the plump 4,200 lbs. G37 was adequate, but not something to brag about. With EPA ratings of 17/25 mpg, and an observed 19 mpg combined, it is about mid-level on the green scale.
Leftlane's bottom line
Infiniti's IPL offerings show that sister brand Nissan's NISMO unit is not the only one having fun. The G37 IPL Convertible offered refined handling, adequate horsepower and the necessary bling to go with a sporty grand touring machine.
Sure, there is always room for more, as in more power, more handling, and more quiet. The changeover to the new Q60 designation doesn't mean that those needs will be addressed, but we still think the G37 is a respectable enough way to go topless with zest - assuming you've brought the cash.
2013 Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible
base price, $60,600. As tested, $62,415.
Rear wind deflector, $545; Illuminated kickplates, 340; First Aid kit, $35.00; Destination, $895.
Photos by Mark Elias.