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2011 Infiniti G25
More affordable luxury doesn't have to mean a smaller car
By Malcolm Gunn
Just about every luxury automaker is downsizing to stay relevant in a time when bottom line and fuel prices are high on shoppers' lists. That means new small cars packed with features and smaller engines to keep governments and socially conscious buyers happy.
Infiniti is doing something radially different . . . by keeping things the same . . . sort of.
By adding a new G25 with a smaller engine and smaller loan payment than the G37, Infiniti doesn't really need to go back to the drawing board for a new small design.
Some might argue that dropping the price by about $4,000 and cutting out 110 horsepower reduces some of the car's cachet. After all, with a $38,300 base price, which includes destination charges, the G25 is about $3,000 less than the top-of-the-line V6-powered Maxima sedan that's sold by Infiniti's Nissan parent.
However, the Japan-based automaker is clearly more interested in spreading the G-series gospel to a wider audience of potential customers than worrying about any possible erosion or crossover in Maxima sales.
Visually, the G25's appearance is virtually identical to that of the G37, and that's a good thing. The rounded features give the car an air of elegance, while the subtly flared fenders that contain the G25's standard 17-inch alloy wheels offer some clue that this sedan speaks the language of performance.
In fact, the G-series, with its rear- and all-wheel-drive architecture, was originally created to challenge the likes of BMW's 3 series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-class sedans. Since its 2003-model-year launch, the highly regarded "G" has helped establish Infiniti as a serious rival in the entry-premium category.
One advantage of not downsizing to create an entry model is that you get a roomy, comfortable car to drive with plenty of luxury-grade amenities. In case you are concerned that the G25 is a seriously decontended ride, it arrives with standard leather-covered seats that are power-adjustable for the driver and front passenger. Also standard is climate control, aluminum trim, remote keyless start and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio capability.
Where the G25 and G37 part company, of course, is the powertrain. The G37 has a 328-horsepower 3.7-litre V6, while the G25 makes do with a 218-horsepower 2.5-litre V6.
Fuel economy is rated by Natural Resources Canada at 10.3 l/100 km in the city and 6.8 on the highway (10.6/7.3 for the all-wheel-drive G25x), whereas the G37's numbers are 12.3/7.9 (a slightly better 11.7/7.8 for the AWD model). If the price of gas is an issue, there's a 10-15-per-cent difference between the two-wheel-drive G25 and G37.
Given the fact that the G25 has 30 per cent less power than the G37 and is only slightly lighter, a more modest rate of acceleration is definitely in the cards. A seven-speed automatic transmission is all that's available for G25 whereas the G37 can be ordered with a six-speed manual.
As well, G25 buyers will also have to rely on the aftermarket if they wish to add a navigation system, as that option is absent. That said, the G25 comes with dual-zone climate control, rearview monitor and heated front seats and outside mirrors. Selecting the Touring Package option gets you a power-operated moonroof, premium Bose audio system, rearview monitor plus a few other goodies.
The two G25x models include much of the Touring Package content in addition to a host of AWD-exclusive items.
Infiniti is obviously banking on a brace of buyers seeking the look and feel of a luxury sedan, but who are willing to sacrifice a degree of performance to save big bucks when signing on the dotted line. If that seems like a fair trade-off, then the G25 might me just your portal to privilege-class driving.
What you should know: 2011 Infiniti G25
Type: Rear- /all-wheel-drive entry-luxury sedan
Engine (hp): 2.5-litre DOHC V6 (218)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Market position: Infiniti has fine-tuned its least expensive model by lowering the price by reducing the size of the base V6 engine. As a result, the new G25 should be a more attractive alternative for luxury buyers on a budget.
Points: Attractive design maintains exact look of pricier G37; Rev-happy 2.5-litre V6 should still provide some driving fun; Seven-speed automatic transmission interesting, but a six-speed manual would also be welcome; No navigation-system option is really unacceptable on any vehicle purporting to be luxury-oriented sedan.
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control.
L/100 km (city/hwy): 10.3/6.8
Base price (incl. destination): $38,300
Lexus IS 250
Base price: $34,850
Base luxury sedan features 204-hp V6 and available all-wheel-drive.
Base price: $34,800
Fully loaded entry-luxury model offers six-speed manual transmission.
Base price: $34,000
Entry-level Volvo sedan comes with peppy 227-hp five-cylinder turbo engine.
Malcolm Gunn is an automotive writer based in Moncton, NB, and a regular contributor to CarTest!
Posted February 28, 2011. © CarTest.ca TM