Infiniti EX37GT Road Test

Tue, 29 Sep 2009

The Infiniti EX37 isn’t merely a new car. It’s one of a range of cars, previously unheard of in the UK, but very well known on the other side of the pond as Nissan’s equivalent of Toyota’s Lexus.

And, unfortunately, we’ve got some corrupted American spelling creeping in here because you’re supposed to pronounce it “infinity”, not, as you might have supposed, “infineaty”.

Its companions are the G37 saloon, G37 coupe, G37 Coupe Cabrio, and FX37, which is a bigger, wider SUV, all with re-tuned 320PS versions of the Nissan 350Z motor. Then the FX50, which is an FX37 with a 5.0 litre V8 and the forthcoming ‘M’ 5.0 litre V8 saloon.

The saloon looks good and comes with a choice of rear wheel drive or intelligent four-wheel drive. The coupe and coupe convertible are rear-drive, look sensational and should give both the BMW 3-Series CC and the Lexus IS250C a run for their money. But the FX37, which Infiniti expects to be its best seller, is monstrously wide, hideously ugly, and sits on obscene 21” wheels, which make its four wheel drive useless in the country (though, in fairness, Infiniti does not claim any of its 4WDs to be cross-country cars).

So, while we could have tested any of them, we went for the relatively sensible EX37GT ‘crossover’, which is a sort of SUV coupe along the lines of the intimidating BMW X6, but with a face that isn’t going to frighten anyone.

It’s nice inside, with a pleasing combination of wood, plastic, vinyl and leather, all properly put together, and including thoughtful touches like a jacket hanger that pulls out from the driver’s seat headrest. It’s not just loaded, it’s dripping with kit, especially if you dip into the options list, and I particularly appreciated the kerb cameras in the mirrors, so you can park in Belgravia without grinding your rims on the granite.

It pulls 0-60 in a cool 6.2 seconds, runs up to 150mph, and while dad (or mum) can treat it like a sports car, they can also get three adults comfortably across the back seats, or fold them down (or up) electrically and chuck 1,175 litres of lumber into the back (more than will go into an Audi A5 Sportback, for example). Ride, on its standard 18” (but also 225/55) tyres is acceptably comfortable, helped by the multi-adjustable electric seats.

265g/km CO2 is a bit of a pain, though, because that puts it into the £435 VED bracket next year, on top of a swingeing £950 first year rate. (You can avoid that by buying before 1st April 2010.) And 25mpg won’t get you far on a thankful, though I think you could get closer to 30mpg on the motorway.

Faults include no standard paddle shifters for the 7-speed box, though that does hold its gears right up to the redline if you floor it. The box is a little bit fussy with 7 ratios to decide between. Handling is good for this kind of car, but not great. The American style foot operated manual parking brake is very effective, but a bit outdated these days. And, of course, unlike the Lexus RX450h, it isn’t (temporarily) London Congestion Tax exempt.

But because of its unaggresssive looks, it’s unlikely to upset people in the manner of a Range Rover Sport, or BMW X3 or X5 or X6. And even if it does, the paint is Nissan’s new self-healing ‘Scratch Shield’.

Next year’s 3.0 V6 diesel option will pitch the Infiniti EX37 more firmly against the likes of the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. But those cars are more SUV than coupe, and the EX37GT is more coupe than SUV.

I suspect some reviewers will have mixed feelings about the EX37, but I liked its combination of high seating, pleasant ambiance, high quality, strong performance, decent handling and unaggressive looks.

I think I could get away with one.

For prices, specifications, engines, transmissions, dimensions and performance figures, please click the tabs.

More at www.infiniti.co.uk

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