First Drive

2011 Infiniti G25

Infiniti lowers the price of entry for luxury buyers

AT A GLANCE
PRICE
$36,290 base.
FUEL CONSUMPTION
NR Canada (L/100 km): 10.0 city. 7.0 highway.

Infiniti expanded its luxury sedan offerings in 2011 with the addition of the G25, as the entry model for the brand’s best-selling G-series line. Previously, Infiniti had been forced to face the competition with just one engine in its G stable, but this new model gives Infiniti buyers a choice between the higher-performance 3.7-litre V6 that powers the popular G37 sedan or a smaller, more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre six-cylinder.

It’s also about $3,000 less expensive than its sibling, with a starting price of $36,390. A well-equipped model will still come in under the $40,000 mark.

The G25 makes the Infiniti brand more attainable for consumers looking to move into the luxury segment of the market without having to make the price leap to the G37, which hovers around $40k and up. With that lower price point, Infiniti expects it to challenge other entry-level luxury models such as the Lexus IS250 and the C Class from Mercedes-Benz.

Although the G25 is less expensive, Infiniti says it makes few compromises in its level of comfort, technology and amenities compared with the G37. It shares the same chassis as the G37, as well as its exterior styling and interior design, which were freshened last year.

The key difference between the two is under the hood. The G25 gets a smooth, 24-valve, double-overhead-cam six that generates 218 hp at 6,400 rpm and 187 lb-ft of torque (at 4,800 rpm), compared to the 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque available in the G37.

Like the senior member of the G sedan series, it’s fitted with a seven-speed transmission, although the manual six-speed offered in the G37 Sport is not available. However, buyers do have the choice of rear-wheel drive or Infiniti’s intelligent all-wheel system.

Fuel efficiency for the G25 is about 9% to 11% better than in the G37, depending on the model, with expected consumption ratings of 10.3 litres/100 kilometres in city use and 6.8 on the highway.

It was difficult to find fault with the G25’s performance or dynamics during a test drive on a variety of roads winding through the wine country in the Napa Valley. The engine was smooth and quiet and its response was decent – certainly not a road rocket, but more than adequate.

The suspension was surprisingly compliant, soaking up rough patches without a fuss while still holding a firm stance through the twisty bits. The steering felt precise, with good feedback – overall providing a sense of confidence with no surprises. The brakes, too, had good bite and felt quite linear as you pressed the pedal.

There was some small degree of tire noise that tended to infiltrate the roomy cabin, but it didn’t reach an annoying level. Otherwise, the interior was impressively quiet, including a complete absence of wind noise.

The cabin was spacious and nicely appointed, including a splash of Shodo aluminum trim as an accent on the instrument panel, centre console and door panels. The materials used throughout seemed to be of good quality and the fit was at a level you’d expect in the luxury segment. The large pad atop the instrument panel did seem to be a bit imposing and felt somewhat firm to the touch, but again this is nit-picking – overall, the interior appointments are first class.

The leather-appointed front seats, with eight-power adjustment for both the driver and passenger, were comfortable and kept the occupants in their place when the driving got a bit spirited. The rear seats, also leather covered, were comfortable as well, with decent leg room even when the front seats were moved well back on their tracks.

I especially like the steering column’s tilt/telescopic feature, in which the entire instrument module moves up and down as you adjust the tilt. This way, the gauges always remain in perfect view for the driver, regardless of the position of the steering wheel.

The G25 is available in both Luxury and G5x Luxury trim levels, with additional available packages such as Touring, Sport, Premium and Navigation. Additional standard features include automatic climate control, a premium audio system with XM satellite radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and pushbutton start, plus safety technologies such as a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, vehicle dynamic control and traction control systems.

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