First Drive

2011 Infiniti IPL G37 Coupe

Infiniti takes on the letter performance brands

2011 infiniti G37 IPL Coupe - front 3/4 view high
AT A GLANCE
PRICE
$57,200 base. $57,200 as tested.
FUEL CONSUMPTION
NR Canada (L/100 km): 12.0 city. 8.0 highway.

From its inception, performance has been a priority for the Infiniti brand, which has always emphasized keen dynamics and response in its products. In 2011, the automaker stepped it up a notch with the introduction of IPL, or Infiniti Performance Line, an in-house luxury performance division whose goal is to breathe a new level of those established brand attributes into a limited-edition lineup of future Infiniti vehicles. Think of this venture as Infiniti’s version of BMW’s M series, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG line or Cadillac’s V models. Although an added degree of sportiness already exists in the Sport versions of several Infiniti models, IPL’s mandate is to focus on enhancing power and handling, while still keeping the new packages reasonably priced. The vehicles this new division breathes on will not simply have more power, snappier acceleration and more aggressive handling capabilities, but they will be designed to enhance the complete driving experience for the lucky folks who get behind the wheel. The first example is the 2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe, a modified version of the second-generation, rear-wheel-drive G37 Sport. At first glance, the family connection is apparent, but fire up this gorgeous machine and you’re instantly aware it’s something special. A throaty sound burbles from the large, round, twin exhaust tips peeking out from a new, sportier rear fascia. IPL has developed a high-flow, totally separated (except for one crossover pipe up front) system with larger diameter tubing from the engine manifolds to the twin mufflers. Not only does it sound great, it has reduced backpressure over the stock G37 system by 30%. Rather than do a major (and costly) engine rebuild, the IPL team opted for special tuning tweaks to the VQ37HR 3.7-litre V6 engine’s management system, such as recalibrating the air-fuel mixture and optimizing the engine timing, that raised the maximum horsepower output by 400 revs to 7,400 rpm, while the torque curve was retuned for a more linear output from low engine speeds to the peak point at 5,200 rpm. Combined with the exhaust system improvements, the power output has been boosted by 18 hp to 348, while torque is improved by six lb-ft to 276. A special IPL-designed engine cover completes the under-hood enhancements. During a test drive through winding roads in the Napa Valley, the engine’s performance was flawless – smooth and very responsive, with an eagerness that matched its billing. The only quibble I have is that the exhaust note, while sweet to hear at some engine speeds, also generated a heavy drone that I suspect could become wearing on a long drive. Transmission choices are a seven-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. I tried out an IPL coupe with the manual gearbox and found the shifter to be a bit notchy. Initially, it also took a few attempts to find the clutch’s sweet spot. Eventually, those issues sorted themselves out, however, and the overall driving experience was pure pleasure. To improve handling, the IPL-tuned suspension includes increased spring rates and different damper settings. The result is a system that handles bumps and road surface irregularities well, providing a firm but comfortable ride, yet it can also hunker down to deliver a confident feel in aggressive cornering. Likewise, the steering is precise, almost verging on being too quick, but certainly providing the feel and response you’d expect in a sports coupe. The IPL-modified G Coupe is fitted with special graphite-finished, 19-inch, split seven-spoke wheels and low-profile, W-rated Bridgestone Potenza summer performance tires that help give the car a no-nonsense look. In addition to a discreet IPL badge on the rear deck, exterior features that set this coupe apart from its sibling include new a front fascia design with integrated fog lights and a revised rear fascia with those chromed exhaust tips, sculpted side sills and a subtle rear spoiler. The whole package exudes plenty of attitude. You’ll have to be content, however, with just two exterior colour choices, a gun-metal grey or a new black with red metallic flecks – it’s called Malbec Black and looks especially attractive in bright sunlight. Inside, the colour options are limited as well – either graphite or red. Whichever you choose, the supple leather seat coverings feature red stitching, which is also applied to the leather-wrapped steering wheel. The power-adjustable front sport seats include a manual thigh extension and driver’s power torso and thigh support adjustment. There’s no problem finding a comfortable driving position with these beauties. Special Silk-Obi aluminum trim accents and aluminum pedals and footrest complete the attractive interior. Since the IPL edition is based on the G37 Sport with the Hi-Tech package, features such as the Bose-designed Studio on Wheels premium audio system, a hard drive navigation system with voice recognition, a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, moonroof, rearview camera and sonar warning system are included. The IPL G Coupe went on sale in March, 2011, with a no-options price of $57,200.

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