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Infiniti G37 Convertible Premium

Click to view picture galleryBold sporting styling with large
  powerful V6 and V8 petrol engines,
  very high levels of specification
  and high build quality are the Infiniti
  brand
s unique selling points...”

ALTHOUGH THE UK is the 34th country to be introduced to the Japanese Infiniti premium sporting brand, we do have the distinction of being the brand's first right-hand drive market.

The Infiniti brand — it's to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota — launched twenty years ago but was first introduced to Western Europe only last year, in October 2008. Production of Infiniti cars in Japan runs at around 150,000 units a year, with the US (over 120,000 annual sales) being the largest single market. Western European sales are expected to reach 20,000 units a year within five years, of which the UK market is expected to achieve 8,000 sales a year.

The Infiniti range currently features powerful rear- or four-wheel drive models with 3.7-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8 petrol engines in the G37 Saloon, Coupe and Convertible and the EX37 coupe-crossover SUV and the larger FX SUV crossover models. Prices range from 30,300 to 53,800.

Initial predicted high residual values will also be appreciated by savvy would-be owners who want something different from the current premium BMW (3-Series, X5 or X6 SUVs), Range Rover (Sport) and Mercedes-Benz (SL, CLK or M-Class) offerings.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to briefly drive a couple of the likely best selling models from the Infiniti range. All, whether they be the G37 (Saloon, Convertible, Coupe) or the EX/FX crossover SUV types, share the same core platform. They all have a bold and aggressive appearance with a constant sporty theme and they cannot be mistaken for any other brand, so the scarcity value of owning one will appeal, as will features like the self-healing paintwork and high levels of standard equipment.

Some potential owners will no doubt — and quite wisely — wait and see how the brand develops and how having a limited number of sales and service centres works out in practice.

The range starts off with the G37 four-door saloons (priced from 30,300). These feature a 3.7-litre 316bhp V6 petrol engine with rear-wheel drive or, alternatively, all-wheel drive. This is a fast family car, one that's relatively comfortable and highly specced but with high fuel bills and a costly tax bill because of the high (starting from 248g/km) CO2 emissions.

The two-door G37 Coupe, priced from 31,950, is rear-wheel drive only and runs the same 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine. Badged 'Nissan Skyline' in Japan, this could be a popular choice for owners who do not need space for children to be carried on a regular basis.

With prices from 38,900, one of the main sellers will undoubtedly be the G37 Convertible. After the US and Germany, the UK is a big market for premium brand drop-tops and the Infiniti folding metal roof model, again with rear-wheel drive and a 3.7-litre V6, will be sure to appeal.

One immediate drawback is the tiny boot space — and that's with the roof in the closed position. The Convertible is definitely more style over function and the driving experience could also be better — there is considerable body shake with the roof down; and the suspension sends shivers through the bodyshell over rippled and potholed roads.

Launching into a struggling UK new car market will not be easy, especially with a limited model range powered by relatively big petrol engines. However, the G37 Convertible looks to have a good chance because of its distinctive and sporty styling, high levels of equipment and the first-rate build quality.

It's not perfect though. As already mentioned, there's body shake, a small boot, high exhaust emissions (so expect correspondingly high taxation levels), it's not cheap and it's thirsty for fuel. While it's early days yet for the brand, the one thing the G37 Convertible does have going for it is that it is different. — David Miles

Infiniti G37 Convertible Premium
| 41,900
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds | Overall MPG: 24.8mpg
Power: 316bhp | Torque: 266lb ft | CO2 264g/km | Insurance group 20E