IT seems odd to talk about convertibles in the middle of winter, but why not? - there is nothing wrong with dreaming a bit about warm weather and sunshine.
Stunningly attractive, the Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible is a real attention getter. Power, performance, personality, seating for four, a retractable hard top that folds neatly behind the rear seat at the push of a switch, wind in hair, what more could you ask for . . . well, perhaps a trunk that doesn't disappear when you put the top down.
The Infiniti G also comes in sedan and coupe versions and drive goes to the rear or all four wheels. Although all three versions share the same basic chassis with an identical wheelbase, exterior body styling and interiors are unique to each G37 version.
The convertible only comes with a rear-drive powertrain and in three trim levels, Sport, Premium and IPL (Infiniti Performance Line). Our tester was an IPL, which comes with a hotter version of the 3.7-litre V-6 engine, a firmer sportier suspension plus a wheel and an aero package. Colour choices are limited to black or white and there are no options.
The extra 18 horsepower from the V-6 engine is thanks in a large part to a bigger bore exhaust with massive tail pipes, which also give the IPL a distinctive sound. Engine tuning pushes its max horsepower output up to 7,400 r.p.m. and the high-flow exhaust is a dual design with separate left and right pipes. A 30 per cent reduction in exhaust back pressure is achieved versus the base engine, which uses a two-into-one Y-pipe type exhaust system design.
Increased front and rear suspension spring and stabilizer rates, performance shocks, a sport-tuned steering gear and an enhanced four-wheel disc braking system are other ingredients in the IPL performance transformation.
The trunk's disappearance coincides with the highly entertaining fully automated loading procedure for the three-piece retractable hard top. The folding and stacking mechanism in action is like watching a scene from a Transformers movie - truly an engineering marvel. When the top is all neatly stowed in back, however, there's only a sliver of trunk cargo space remaining.
Attractive from any angle, the G's flowing curves gently bow over the engine and front wheels. Infiniti's signature double-arch grille is flanked by stylized L-shape bi-xenon headlight assemblies up front.
The IPL comes with a unique front fascia with integrated fog lights, black finishers, sculpted side sills and chrome exhaust tips.
An IPL buyer gets the choice of Aspen Pearl (white) or Malbec Black. Generally impressively tight panel gap lines are somewhat compromised at the rear where the convertible top is stored. In fairness, this body section is designed to open in two directions and functions as both a trunk lid and a cover for the folded roof.
A unique feature of the dash is an instrument panel pod that moves in unison with the adjustable steering column. This guarantees the driver always has an unobstructed view of the instrument panel gauges.
It's a power-operated feature via a four-way stubby switch lever that can also move the steering wheel closer or farther away from the driver.
The domed hard top offers front passengers more headroom than the coupe edition of G. Not surprisingly, rear passenger space is limited, especially legroom.
Conveniently located on the front seatback are switches that allow easy movement of the front seats. On a slope, however, the large doors can overcome the spring-loaded stop and tend to swing back.
The front seats on an IPL edition come with perforated centre panels in the leather upholstery, which allows them to vent cool air in addition to having a heating feature. Red stitching and IPL logos on the upholstery are additional distinctive touches.
The convertible comes with reinforced front side members, front pillars and body sills, to make up for the reduction in body strength that a fixed roof offers. Concealed dual pop-up roll bars, behind the rear seats, also spring into action and protect occupants if the car flips over in a collision.
In a high-speed frontal collision the engine is designed to slide under the cabin and the bulkhead is double-wall constructed for added front passenger protection. The driveshaft also has a breakaway feature. Dual-stage front air bags, door-mounted side-impact air bags and active head restraints on the front seats complete an excellent safety package.
You get that "this car was made for me" feeling soon after settling in behind the wheel of a G37. Snug supportive seats, controls that are easy to find and use and with the top up driver sight lines are better than you expect in a convertible.
When started cold, the engine initially seems to lack some power but it quickly builds up steam as the rumble from the exhaust settles into its rhythmic pattern. The IPL's big bore, easy-flow system is considerably louder than the regular G37.
The constant drone from the exhaust at highway cruising speeds may be off-putting for some buyers, even though the extra power is inviting. In addition, you also have to push the engine higher into its rev range to feel the benefit of the extra grunt provided, which requires a more aggressive driving style.
The engine is matched to an electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission with a quick-shift DS (Drive Sport) mode that also provides downshift rev-matching. A delight to use, this transmission can adapt to your personal driving style and the DS mode is great if you're in the mood for more spirited driving. Solid magnesium steering column mounted paddle shifters allow manual shifts at any time or mode and in manual mode it stays in the gear selected by the driver.
The G37 is built on what Infiniti calls a front-midship chassis. It puts heavy drivetrain components in a more central position between the axles and this allows better handling characteristics. Convertibles are always heavier than sedans or coupes, and this car is no exception.
What is exceptional is the way it can carve through corners with precision and stability, with the top down it was an absolutely marvellous driving experience.
The IPL edition of the Infiniti G37 Convertible is an edgy version of a special automobile. It's great to look at and now even better to drive.
The specs - 2013 Infiniti G37 Convertible
Trim levels: Sport, Premium and IPL
Sticker price: $58,400$67,300
Power: 3.7-litre V-6, 330 & 348 horsepower
Transmission: six-speed manual/seven-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 11.9/7.8 litres/100 kilometres (city/ highway)
Basic warranty: four years/100,000 km
Powertrain warranty: six years/110,000 km
Rust warranty: seven years/ unlimited km
BMW 3 Series Cabriolet: $57,300-$75,100
Lexus IS 350C: $57,000 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet: $69,200-$79,900
Volvo C70: $54,500-$59,375
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