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Motoring: Comparing coupes and convertibles

Credit: Nissan

Nissan's latest offering, the Infiniti G37, comes in a convertible option.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 8th, 2012

Back in 2003, Infiniti, which is Nissan's premium brand, did something that no one expected: they took the platform and drivetrain from the Nissan 350Z and modified it to their liking. Then they penned an incredibly pretty body onto this new, lengthened platform, and the end result was the birth of the G35 coupe.

Thanks to its looks, its performance, and an attractive price point, the car was a huge success. Now everyone who wanted a BMW 3- series coupe or a Mercedes-Benz CLK had a new car on their shopping list.

It was a successful start, but the hard part is keeping that momentum going.

So in 2008, Infiniti launched the much-anticipated sequel, the G37 coupe. The new version had a bit more power and looked even better than before, plus the gadgets list grew even bigger. But despite the improvements, the new car lacked the buzz of the original G35 coupe. What Infiniti needed to do was to again go into a territory they hadn't been in before.

So, in 2010, the G37 convertible hit the showrooms. This was actually the second convertible in Infiniti's history, but the first to be a hard-top convertible.

Sales of this model — especially in Canada — have been slow thus far to say the least, but never ones to call it quits, Infiniti is now offering a new version of the G37 convertible called the IPL.

IPL, which stands for Infiniti Performance Line, is like what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz and M is to BMW. Cars that will get the IPL treatment will be faster and sportier to drive than the regular model.

The G37 coupe was the first model to get the IPL treatment, and now the convertible gets the goodies also. Visually, you get much more sculpted bumpers, even bigger exhaust pipes and nicer seats. Under the skin, you get the same 3.7-litre V6 motor, but in the IPL, it is tweaked to produce 348 hp (regular model gets 325 hp) and 276 lb/ft of torque (267 lb/ft on the regular version).

However, while the regular G37 convertible is available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic, the IPL Convertible only comes with the seven-speed automatic (the IPL coupe, however, gets both gearbox options).

The automatic is the preferred choice of gearbox for this car anyway, because I have driven G37s with the manual gearbox and I didn't like it. Its automatic might not be the quickest shifting gearbox, especially when using the paddle shifters (up-shifts seem to take forever), but it is always smooth. Power in the IPL model is only sent to the rear wheels, but given how well its traction and stability control system works, you don't have to worry about stability, even on slippery days.

Despite Infiniti trying to pass the IPL convertible off as a sportscar, it isn't, really. It is a fast, sophisticated, comfortable cruiser that can just melt away the miles. This car is just wonderful for taking out-oftown trips; however, since the convertible model hardly has any trunk space, you'd better pack light (with the power-operated hard-top folded in, I could barely fit my slippers in the trunk) or throw your stuff in the back seat, which is what I did.

Roof down, you notice the sacrifices a car has to make when it goes from being a hard-top coupe to a convertible. There is plenty of chassis flex, which makes you cringe on broken roads, but buying a convertible is all about sacrifices and this is no exception. Cruising with the roof down and the side windows up, there is still plenty of wind buffeting at highway speeds, so it's best to drive top down in town.

All in all, I liked the G37 IPL convertible, but you will have to live with its compromises, plus you have to come up with $67,300 to get one, which is a lot, to be honest.

Personally, I'd rather have a G37 coupe with the all-wheel drive option. Recently, I also spent time with the G37xS coupe. This model had the regular tune, 330 hp version of the 3.7-litre V6, but that is honestly very sufficient for moving this car. Considering that at 1,652 kg, the xS coupe is 248 kg lighter than the IPL convertible I drove, the power to weight ratio is quite similar.

The coupe, thanks to its stiffer platform, does feel more like a sportscar to drive, which is what an enthusiast looks for. Also, thanks to its stiffer platform, it rides much better.

Each all-wheel drive model comes only with the seven-speed automatic, and yes, it had the same lazy response when asking for an up-shift. I hope Infiniti will offer a dual-clutch gearbox, similar to the one found on the Nissan GT-R, the next time they do a new G-model.

If the idea of an all-wheel drive coupe suits you (in Canada, that is a pretty good idea to consider), then be ready to shell out $49,300 for the G37x coupe, while my tester, being the sport G37xS coupe retails for $51,800.

Regardless of the G37 you pick (remember, there is a sedan version available), you'll end up with a luxurious car with a wonderfully gadget-laden cockpit, a powerful and reliable engine, and one of the best exhaust noises in its class.

These cars might be getting on in years, and they might not be perfect, but they are perfectly satisfying to live with (heck, with an average of 12.9 litres/100km on a combined cycle, they are not terribly thirsty, either). Would I buy one? Nah, I'd keep saving until I can afford a Nissan GT-R.
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