Underrated Used Cars – The Infiniti G Series

Infiniti G37 coupe

When anyone asks the now ubiquitous question about which sports sedan or coupe they should buy in the used car market under $25K, the answers start to sound pretty similar.  Toss in a typical enthusiast requirement of must-be-manual and rear-wheel-drive and you could probably write out a quick list of the usual suspects.  Well, it’s mostly the BMW 3-Series actually.  But what if that’s wrong?

Enter the dragon challenger in today’s edition of underrated used cars, the Infiniti G.  Now I’m not just picking a random car I saw on my commute this morning and writing about it.  Well, I am, but I actually owned one.  See, it’s in my WheelWell garage and everything.  That’s not my picture, but you get the gist.  The year was 2006(ish) and I was shopping for a manual-equipped sedan with at least 300hp and decent room inside for around $30K.  I looked at BMW, Audi, Mercedes and a host of other new and used options.  But I bought the Infiniti.  I’ll get to that in a bit and let you know why you should consider spending your hard earned used car monies on a similar car.  But first, some history.

The Skyline

R34 Skyline GT-R

Most enthusiasts know that our Infiniti G is largely the same as the Nissan Skyline.  It wasn’t always that way of course.  If you know your Skyline lineage, you know that the now-US-import-legal R32 introduced the world (via Gran Turismo) to the GT-R.  Sure, there are Skylines that came before 1988’s R32, but this was where it was at, 2 turbos and a microphone.  It’s also likely the one you spent your virtual PlayStation cash to buy back in the day.  Things progressed in both sedan and coupe form to the R33 and Godzilla, the R34 Skyline seen above in Bayside Blue.

Things weren’t all boost and AWD of course, normal Skylines have always been available as pretty mundane commuter cars with small twin cam 2.0 RB-series engines.  But the Skyline still became a legend and enthusiasts in the States pined for the day when we could put a Skyline in our driveway.  Oh what we would do, the horrible Japanese game-show type things we would do, to own a Nissan Skyline.  You’ve seen enough hentai to know what comes next.

Thirteen years ago we got our wish.

Enter the V35

Infiniti XVL ConceptPreviewed by the Infiniti XVL Concept (left) in January 2000 at the NAIAS, the 11th generation Skyline was dubbed the V35 and shared its platform with the new-to-the-world 350Z “Fairlady” sports car.   It was still available as a sedan, which featured the long-standing hallmark of the Skyline, all wheel drive, and all variants were based on what Nissan dubbed the “FM Platform”.  Now we knew the G-series already, as Infiniti arrived at our shark filled shores back in 1990 with the G20 which was based on the Nissan Primera.  It received fair praise here in the US as an interesting new luxury brand alternative but never really brought much in the way of power and performance.  The new G35, which was what our version of the new Skyline was called, was a different car altogether.  The VQ35DE engine, which has found its way into dozens of Nissan, Infiniti and Renault products, made 260hp in the sedan and 280hp in the coupe.  By the 2004 model year you could get a 6-speed manual on both coupe and sedan and all were RWD, save for the G35X which sported AWD.

Various iterations have featured Brembo brakes, limited slip differentials, and even “rear active steering” as options and have continued to increase both options and power over the years.  Design have been evolutionary, the shape getting more modern and slipperier over the years.  Now it’s called the Q50 I believe.  All cars are Qs at Infiniti.  It’s a thing.

So why isn’t this on the average enthusiast’s go-to list?

Infiniti G35S SedanMy G

I actually don’t know, perhaps you can tell me?  When I was on my aforementioned car shopping trips, it was a clear front runner in the luxury sports sedan market.  The 3-series was tight in the back, the 5-series was too expensive.  At Mercedes, it was largely the same, the C-Class was too small, the E-Class too expensive.  The A4 had grown a bit in size, but not nearly as much as it had in price.  The cars that I once thought were “around $30K” were more like “around $40K” so I went over to take a look at the G35.  Well, I say that, I actually bought one sight-unseen negotiating the entire deal via email with the local dealer.  He valued both of my trades, a 2002 350Z and a 2007 Focus ST, and gave me a sweet deal on a black on black 2007 G35S (Sport) sedan with a 6-speed manual.  That whole transaction is a story for another article, I don’t necessarily recommend that tactic, but it remains one of my best buying experiences ever.

On the topic of the car itself, it was quick, sporting 306hp from his VQ35HR V6 engine, the 6-speed shifted smoothly and could reach 60mph in 2nd, and even with it’s size could dance through an off-ramp with much smaller cars.  It wasn’t perfect, the Sport’s suspension was firm and the brakes were apparently so much better than the average car’s that I got rear ended twice.  Well I also rear ended someone one additional time, so scratch that.  Or chalk it up to not paying attention.   Whatever, I enjoyed the car during its time in my driveway but eventually got tempted by a, then new, 2010 Mustang after a few joyous years of ownership.  Then traded that for a, then new, 2011 Mustang.  Damnit Ford.

The Used G Market

So where does that leave us, oh yes the used market.  It’s good.  In both coupe and sedan guise, I found hundreds of manual, RWD Sport models under $25,000 lurking on cars.com.   Model years are as recent as 2012 and some come with odometer readings under 30,000 miles.  That’s damn near a new car, plus we’re talking about the G37 with the larger 3.7 L VQ37VHR V6 and 330’ish HP.  Giggity.  Here are a couple real world examples of cars across the country you could go buy right now.

2012 Infiniti G37 Sport
$23,995 | 38,055 mi.
Gorgeous white 6-spd coupe that’s so hot the God damn dealership caught on fire!

 2012 Infiniti G37 Sport  $23,995 | 38,055 mi.

2012 Infiniti G37 Sport
$19,997 | 23,154 mi.
Here’s another nice 2012 Sport, this time as a 4-door.  It didn’t set anything on fire, but it’s a great low-mileage manual tranny sports sedan.

2012 Infiniti G37 Sport $19,997 | 23,154 mi.

In Summary, Wait What?

Compare that to BMW and…aww crap…well you pretty much get the same model year, same mileage, same RWD layout, same transmission options, etc.  Journalism man, it’s a tough game.  You start an article with a hypothesis and sometimes when your fingers get done typing, you disprove it.  It’s like a science fair.

I’m not sure that’s 100% the case here, as most of BMWs I found are 328i variants which come with 240hp, a lot less power than the Infinities.  Faced with the same choice, RFD Founder Josh Taylor went with the F30 BMW.  So you may want to go for a test drive and see what you like.  If I were to make the decision again, and I likely will be in the market for a sports sedan over the next year or so, I may not make the same choice and pick the fancy Nissan.  But I recommend you give the used Infiniti G35 and G37 a chance, you might like what you find.  It’s infinitely modifiable (see what I did there) with tons of interesting aftermarket goodies to improve power, handling, sounds, and appearance.  And it’s a damn Skyline, that should be enough to give it a look.  Just don’t replace your “I N F I N I T I ” badge with “S K Y L I N E”.  Whatever, do it if it makes you happy.

Pics from other places:
R34 Image: Deviantart.com
XVL Concept Image: chicagoautoshow.com
G35S Sedan: Vossenwheels.com
Header image: wallpaperup.com

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