26 March 2008

Infinite potential

Infiniti G37 guns for BMW 3-Series. Or Maserati. Or someone...

Infiniti G37

Lock the doors and batten down the cat: the Infinitis are coming.

OK, it's not actually all that scary. Infiniti is Nissan's luxury brand - think Lexus and Toyota - and it's on the way to Europe. You've got a bit of time to prepare, mind - the first dealerships will open in the UK in April 2009.

And here's one of the first models you'll be able to buy: the G37. It's a BMW 3-Series rival available in coupe or saloon form, and we have to say we're rather smitten by the former.

Both the two-door and four-door are powered by a new 3.7-litre aluminium V6, sending 306bhp and 258lb of torque to the rear wheels. Infiniti describes the G37 as a 'front midships' layout, meaning that most of the engine block sits behind the front axle line, lowering the centre of gravity and centralising the weight distribution.

Which means that the G37 should be a tidy-handling car: even more so if you opt for the limited-slip diff and four-wheel steering (just like the Laguna GT we showed you yesterday) provided in the optional sports pack. A six-speed manual transmission will be offered as standard, with a seven-speed auto for stickophobes.

There's no definite word on pricing, but Infiniti Europe says that the G37 will target the BMW 330i, so expect prices to start around £30,000. You should get a fair bit of kit for your money, though - with cruise control, 18-inch alloys and scratch shield paint as standard.

Scratch what? Infinitis will all get a clever 'elastic resin' paint which, like the Terminator reforming, squeezes back over scratches to keep your bodywork looking pristine. Clever, but just a tiny bit creepy, perhaps?

All in all, though, it looks like the G37 could be a seriously rival to BMW's ubiquitous 3-Series when it arrives next year. But Infiniti doesn't want you thinking like that. "We'd rather be thought of as a Japanese Maserati than a Japanese BMW," says Infiniti Europe's Wayne Bruce.

Hopeful, perhaps, but we're cheered by Bruce's response when we ask him whether there's any chance of a more powerful G37 appearing: a genuine rival for the BMW M3. "I can't confirm anything at the moment," he says, "but there's always scope for more power."

That's the sort of attitude we like.

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