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It looks innocuous enough when compared to the zillions of G35 sedans circulating on the highways these days. Just a little lower stance and a few doodads separate it from its more mundane relative the non-S. However, once inside Infiniti has left nothing of the pedestrian feel of its softer brother. If you can learn how to shift the six-speed transmission properly this car can blow the doors and everything else off of the BMW sedans not wearing a M label and for far less money. Remember the caveat, if you can learn to shift the transmission properly. The clutch has a high take up and it takes time, a lot of time, to learn how to match the playful engine with the clutch, maneuver that shift linkage properly, and hopefully don’t stall, or spin the tires, or fry the clutch. In traffic it is tiresome so we highly recommend the automatic transmission where you can use the paddle shifters and not worry about your self-image so much.

Other than that, don’t bring a fat fanny to the dance. The Infiniti sports seats are tight and meant to hold you. Unfortunately, you might find yourself sitting on one seat bolster while your other cheek rests in the flat part of the cushion despite the many adjustments offered. At least Infiniti moved the electric seat adjustments from under your thigh to the side of the seat. Unfortunately, if you have large hands or a large ring the chances of reaching these controls is not the easiest in the world.

Okay, enough negative vibes, how does this sport sedan, built on the chassis of Nissan’s 350Z sports car handle on a daily basis? The answer is that it is perhaps the best practical sports sedan for the money. The real question is whether or not you need a car meant to handle corners and canyons, with room for five adults that costs $40,000 and needs premium fuel to give you about 20 mpg? We feel it is a terrific compromise of speed, sport, and spiffiness. Unfortunately, the BMW worshipers might pass this model by in their hurry to spend $10,000 more for similar performance, handling, and interior room from the 535i 4dr Sedan 3.0L 6cylinder turbo model.

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Mom’s view: This is quite an attractive automobile both inside and out. Although the placement of the CD changer in the trunk does interfere with taller packages, there is still ample storage for most needs, but if you are going to be traveling with a family check it out before you buy to make sure it is adequate. It is easy to open the rear hatch. Unfortunately, the rear seats don’t fold down to extend the trunk space. The hatch is very easy to open rear hatch with a low liftover height.

I found the manual transmission easy to shift, but the clutch was difficult to modulate. Still, the 3500 pound sedan with its 268 ft lb of torque could be lugged down considerably without having to be shifted and was quick to rev into its favorite power range about 6000 rpm. A very exceptional engine and quite a willing partner to all sorts of speed related tasks once its tank was topped off with premium fuel. Look for a range of 300 miles with the 16.7-gallon tank.

The interior is quite nice. As usual Infiniti has the best rear view monitor system in the business. It is easy to use, and those wonderful overlay curves show where the car will go when placed in reverse. The gauges are easy to use, but the stereo functions can be a bit confusing at first. The most dismaying ergonomic question I have is how anyone can comfortable reach down between the door and seat to reach the electric controls for the seat? Luckily, according to my current husband, I don’t have a large diamond or my hand would barely fit. At least it is better than on previous models where your dress would cover the controls located next to the seat. If you were remotely hefty your thigh would be in the way.

The trim and the leather are nice to the touch and have a sporty look to them. The night lighting is quite good and the headlights are excellent. The windshield wipers cover a great deal of glass and the controls are easy to adjust. The seating position offers a good view in all directions. I find the Infiniti’s interior just a tad below the Audi’s, but still among the best, as I like the understated look. The horn is only average, but the brakes are awesome.

The air-conditioning works well, but the heater is a little tardy to the task on cold days. It is a good thing that the heated seats are available, but even they don’t offer enough warmth compared to the Saab. The automatic climate control does do a nice job of keeping those in the front seat comfortable, but the back seat could use more interior vents or larger ones. The trip computer has the usual helpful readouts such as fuel mileage and miles to empty and the seven-inch center-dash LCD monitor is easy to view. The keyless entry is a nice feature and all you have to do is hit the large start button to have some serious fun.

Overall, this is quite an attractive package and you can equip it as a very sporty ride or an audiophile’s dream depending on your option choices. Clearly this Infiniti can keep pace with the BWM and I like its interior much better. It is the best family sedan for those who care about price and love performance.

Dad’s view: Infiniti’s G35 is a winner. Pure and simple. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine puts out 306 horsepower and either a six-speed manual or five speed automatic send the power to the rear differential without hesitation. The engine is so strong you can keep it in sixth gear at most every speed. On the other hand, we left it in fifth gear by mistake several times because the engine is so quiet and we were so relaxed we never checked the tachometer. The automatic transmission has F1-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel and is a lot easier to live with as the clutch action can wear on you with the manual version.

We had the Sport edition and we liked it a great deal. You can also get the G as an entry level Journey version or with all wheel drive, the G35x with heated seats. Standard features abound with Intelligent Key, front side and curtain airbags, traction and stability control, and ABS on the four-wheel-disc brakes. Add to that dual-zone climate control and a stereo with six-CD in-dash changer and you have a nicely turned out sedan. The Sport edition adds 18-inch tires, an iPod integration system, and satellite radio as well as a stiffened suspension/stability system, a viscous limited-slip differential, sport seats. There is an optional four-wheel active steer system and lots of entertainment features for a few more dollars. It is easy to push the base $32,000 Infiniti into the low $40,000 range if you aren’t careful.

The real story here is the great handling and the engine. The V6 has 3.5 liters, a 10.6 compression ratio with double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft, four valves per cylinder, multi-point injection fuel, and provides 306 horsepower at 6800 rpm with 268 feet of torque at 4800 rpm. Best of all this engine meets California’s stringent ULEV II rating, almost the best you can get and this is a performance car no less. Excellent. except, we could only get about 20 mpg on premium even though the government indicates a 17-mpg city and 24 mpg highway rating. Perhaps it was that inviting performance awaiting our command that detracted from our getting better fuel mileage.

Driving the Infiniti Sport is very rewarding. You can slide the rear a little as the traction/stability system accommodates such deeds to some extent, and the steering has a positive feel with just a touch of understeer at the limit. You can feel bumps and frost heaves, but they are well dampened. In other words, this is the buddy you have been waiting for to sneak out of the house and have a good time with.

College going male’s view: The Infiniti has some inspiring digital music options that may require more thought than usual when making a purchase. You can get an internal hard drive for navigation and a Music Box feature as well as your iPod and CompactFlash and Bluetooth compatibilities. The sound is quite good with the Premium package Bose audio system and a nice subwoofer. You can store a copious number of tunes on the hard drive with over nine GBs at your command. You can even copy CDs using Infiniti’s Music Box option. I don’t see the value in it as I do my own, but for some music fantastic it might be worth the effort. The LCD screen is easy to read and does not suffer from as much glare as some units. If all else fails there is also XM satellite radio and the Bluetooth has voice commands for cell phone use, too, especially when many areas are requiring hands free phone systems.

Understated is the best way to describe the G35, which is a shame in a way because this is one frollicy ride. The engine is more entertaining the faster it consumers fuel and it is perhaps fortunate that the modern look is muted by the more mundane G sedans so as not to draw attention from the saviors of our highways.

I saved the best for last as our G35 Infiniti had a system that lists traffic problems in the area of the car thanks to live traffic reporting through the unit. It was great. You could see where there was a problem and avoid it by using its Traffic Detour selection on the GPS unit. It even showed the roads that were impacted in different colors based on average speeds. Stick to the green ones, even when they take you into the lesser traveled areas because this Infiniti is fun to drive and with the fast acting GPS it just stepped into first place ahead of Honda for the best such unit. The system even has a text-to-speech feature that calls out the names of the streets and you can ask it to find local points of interests, too. The map includes a choice of a bird’s eye view that we like or the more conventional one. The upgrade audio system has ten-inch woofers and some impressive statistics for its digital audio converter. All told, a first rate system, but not the best probably because of the interior’s acoustics. I find that vehicles with larger interiors tend to be a better venue for top flight units to express themselves in.

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Young woman’s view: Lots of pricey options push the base $32,050 Infiniti G35 sedan into plusher vehicle territory if you aren’t careful. The audio packed Premium option adds $2,500 and that does not include the $2100 navigation system. If you want the Sports package with its wonderfully reactive feel, albeit a bit too stiff legged at times, you are going to be paying nearly $40,000 for this Infiniti. Since the Infiniti line is a luxury line I would get them all and have an entertaining time and at least get to know where my payments are going.

You can get five adults in the G, but make sure those in the back seat aren’t plus sized. The trunk has a tight opening making it difficult to get awkward packages in easily. The visibility is good to the front, but the low spoiler on the sport version makes parking and low driveways a concern.

Family conference: With an automatic transmission and perhaps going with the Journey model rather than the more athletic Sport version, there is little doubt this is a terrific sedan. Unfortunately, the competition has upped the bar with the less expensive Mercedes Benz C300, the freshly designed Cadillac CTS, Audi’s A4, BMW 5 Series, and the Lexus ES 350 offering price competitive alternatives. However, none of these offers a combination of nimble, quick, and roomy in as great as abundance as the redone Infiniti. And don’t forget the G also comes as a cute coupe and with an all wheel drive sedan version.

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