published Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Kennedy: Infiniti G drop-top carves up the road

The curvaceous Infiniti G convertible, shown in Vibrant Red, is the perfect car for a spin by the lake.
The curvaceous Infiniti G convertible, shown in Vibrant Red, is the perfect car for a spin by the lake.
Photo by Mark Kennedy

There are some cars that are, well, mood altering. The curvaceous Infiniti G convertible is one of those rides.

On a sunny day earlier this week, we took a 2012 Infiniti G convertible from Kelly Infiniti on a spin by Chickamauga Lake. With the car's top down on a perfect spring day it was hard not to smile.

It had been a while since I had driven the rear-wheel-drive G, and I had forgotten the 325-horsepower V6 under the hood feels like an absolute rocket. This car's mid-range torque is exhilarating as the speedometer needle sweeps effortlessly from 40 mph to 60 mph and beyond.

There's something about that drop-top, though, that makes the G a genuine thrill ride. The three-piece roof folds away as electric motors contort sheet metal and fabric into the car's trunk space. It's a process that takes about 20 seconds and is sure to leave bystanders slack-jawed as if witnessing some sort of Rube Goldberg magic. (One note: There's no space in the trunk with the top down, so you may have to wait until you unpack at your destination to go topless.)

STYLING

Three years into its product cycle, according to Kelly Cars sales manager Hank Brown, the basic G profile still looks fresh and progressive. The distinctively molded hood and elegant roofline form perhaps the most attractive coupe profile on the market.

Our test car, set afire in Vibrant Red paint, was shod with gorgeous, 15-spoke alloy wheels sporting Potenza V-rated tires. With the retractable hardtop in the up position, it takes an alert eye to spot the convertible roof seams.

Inside, the G convertible exudes typical Infiniti simplicity and elegance. The leather-surfaced seats hug your frame as the G sprints through turns. Our tester included a navigation system, a $1,850 option, that operates on a hard drive. You can even play DVDs on the 7-inch display in the middle of the dash but only when the car is in park. (Here's a thought: You could have a drive-in movie experience in your own garage.) Gauges and controls are ergonomically excellent.

Our tester came with an upgraded, Bose open-air sound system that includes speakers mounted in the front seat headrests to keep your tunes pumping even with the top down.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

The finely tuned bass hum of the G's exhaust note is a big part of the personality of the car, reminding you the lion under the hood can be awakened with a simple flex of your right foot. The muscular, 3.7-liter six-cylinder engine peaks at 267 lb.-ft. of torque. The G convertible has a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds.

All this power is connected to a slick, seven-speed automatic transmission, which also has a manual-shift mode. Easy to reach paddle shifters are located on the steering wheel.

In highway traffic during our test drive, the G convertible zipped across lanes and accelerated effortlessly. Rear visibility is a bit pinched because of the sloping roofline.

BOTTOM LINE

Unquestionably one of the best sports coupes on the road, the Infiniti G convertible adds an open-air option to highway touring. Our fully optioned test car stickers for $55,145 (base price is $46,650). With a classic style and rock-solid Infiniti reliability, buyers of the G convertible should see their investments age well.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...

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