I got the 2007 Infiniti G35 in our garage this week and took it out for a first drive. Our review car is a sedan, but the big red S on the back means it's the sports version. It has a six-speed manual transmission and a suspension tuned to handle twisty roads. Power runs to the rear wheels from a 3.5-liter V-6, which produces 306 horsepower, enough to really move this car. There's something about a manual transmission in a sedan that makes you want to put on black leather driving gloves and sunglasses and get out for some serious driving. It's not fun like a Mini Cooper; this car means business.
Although this G35 is designed for sport driving, it has all the luxury you would expect from an Infiniti in the cabin. The leather seats are very nice, and the dashboard materials have a feeling of quality. Infiniti has been using the same big multifunction knob to control car systems for a few model years now, and it works well. It's a big dial with four directional buttons and an Enter button mounted on top. Big function buttons just below the car's LCD let you select different stereo modes and setting screens.
I was a little baffled not to find any buttons for navigation below the screen, until I realized our review car didn't have the navigation option. The fact that it does have an LCD in the dash points to Infiniti's making the LCD standard whether you get navigation or not. In our review car, the LCD primarily shows stereo information, such as which radio station is tuned in or which CD from the six-disc changer is selected. The changer can read MP3 files, too, and display ID3-tag information on the screen. The G35's audio interface isn't that great, though, as you can't view a list of all the satellite radio stations available, and displaying MP3 ID3 tags requires you to go to a subscreen with the unlikely label "Text." The car does have an auxiliary input jack not only for audio, but for video as well. The jacks are hidden away under a cup holder in the center console.
The car also has a pretty nifty Bluetooth cell-phone integration setup, complete with voice command. I easily paired up a Motorola V551 phone with the system, once I figured out that the only way to interact with it was through the voice commands. Once paired, I could place a call just by hitting the voice-command button on the steering wheel, saying "Call," then saying the number I wanted to call. The car recognized every command flawlessly. Unfortunately, I don't have many numbers memorized, and the car didn't copy over my address book. It did let me push contact information to the car one at a time. It also didn't display most-recent calls, something I really liked about the Audi A4.
Beyond some annoying interface issues, though, this car is a blast to drive. It handles curvy roads well, feels like a luxury sport car, and has big enough seats in back to carry passengers comfortably. Look for our review on CNET Car tech next week.
(Photos: CNET Networks)