Categories: Car Comparisons
Written By: admin
Infiniti has been targeting BMW since it began selling cars twenty years ago, and the G has been in many ways its most credible weapon in that war. Choosing between these two isn’t going to be easy.
One’s reaction to a car’s appearance is subjective, so I wont spend much time on it, except to say that both the G37 and 335i really don’t look their best unless they are equipped with the sports package and its wheels and tires and are rear-wheel drive. Otherwise they look a bit tippy-toe and anemic, as the increased ride height of the AWD versions undercuts the sporty mien that a fast coupe should have.
Inside, the Infiniti is more adventurous, with large, swooping forms. The BMW counters by being made from materials that at least seem more upmarket, and having a more usable rear seat (the G37’s rear window crunches down on back seaters’ heads) and a larger trunk that’s easier to access. The standard front seats in both are decent; the sports seats in the BMW provide more support when you’re reeling on it.
Tech-wise, the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive control interface matches the intuitiveness of the Infiniti’s, but the Asians give you three ways to input data: steering wheel, touch screen, or rotary control. Also, you get more standard features on the G37, such as standard ‘smart key’ access—a $500 option on the 335i—and don’t get charged for things like metallic paint (that’ll be $550, sir).
When it comes to driving dynamics, the 3-series is still the benchmark. Its steering is more organic in nature, communicating more of what’s happening at the tires’ contact patches. Its ride motions are that wee bit better damped; even the stiff sidewalls of its run-flat tires cant hide how well it deals with urban blacktop scarring. In contrast, the G37 suffers more vertical bobbing motions, and transmits more road and tires noise.
In the corners, the rear-drive Infiniti is a bit more of the outlaw; like the Nissan Z-car it shares a platform with, it loves to go sideways—at least with the stability control turned off—and it is more controllable there, too, as there’s the option of a limited slip differential. The G37 also offers the option of fixed-piston Brembo brakes on the sports package, though the 335i’s less aggressive looking stoppers seem to work just as well. The BMW stays more neutral, cutting a cleaner, if less outrageous, path between straits. With the safety systems engaged, or in AWD form, the two are more similar, and most folk wont notice much between them.
That’s certainly not true when it comes to their powertrains. The G’s 330hp 3.7-liter V6 emits an inviting rasp right from idle (though it can grow a bit fatiguing when you want to just cruise), and leaps off the line with a surge that momentarily leaves the 3-series breathless. But once the turbos bolted to the silky, inline 3.0-liter six under the BMW’s hood inhale for a moment or two, it’s off down the road on a wave of torque the Infiniti has no answer for. Especially at the top end of the rev range, where the Infiniti’s VQ-series engine gets quite harsh and the BMW’s is singing so sweetly. 0-60 is pretty evenly matched at about 5 seconds, so it’s more about the way each engine makes the driver feel.
The G37 is actually more enjoyable to me when equipped with an automatic; the 7-speed self-shifter mutes the vibrations of the engine, and its rev-matching software makes it fun to drive in manual mode (sadly, paddle shifters aren’t available on the AWD car). The 335i’s stick shift is nicer to use, but its 6-speed auto looses points because it overrides the driver’s commands even in manual mode, and its paddles are not correctly configured (right for upshifts, left for down). As most buyers will go for the auto option, I have to give the nod to Infiniti here.
So close are these two in overall appeal, much will come down to badge-snobbery and other intangibles—many perceive the Bavarian as higher end. But BMW’s very desirability works against it in some ways, as the 3-series is now almost ubiquitous in certain parts of the country. There’s no gray area when it comes to price; the Infiniti is substantially less, when equipped as closely as possible—even accounting for BMW’s free maintenance program—the G37 is over ten grand less the 335i. That’s too substantial an amount of loot to overlook.
Price for similarly equipped cars:
Rear wheel drive:
2010 BMW 335i Sport: $56,800
2010 Infiniti G37 Sport 6MT: $44,265
2010 BMW 335i xDrive: $58,325
2010 Infiniti G37x AWD: $46,465
The 3-series site is here.
The Infiniti G is here.