For most luxury automakers, creating a car to successfully take on BMW's 3 Series is a seemingly impossible task. Need proof? The critically acclaimed 3 outsells its rivals by a factor of at least two to one. But thanks to its solid qualifications in performance, design and luxury, the 2008 Infiniti G35 is one of the few entry-level luxury sport sedans that can match the 3 in almost all areas.
This year's G35 is coming off a full redesign just last year. The redesign was aimed at improving the first-generation G35, a car that didn't need much improving to begin with. Key improvements over the previous car included a revised and more powerful 3.5-liter V6, an updated and stiffer version of the car's "FM" platform architecture, sharper handling, a mild but complete styling makeover and welcome improvements to interior materials quality. A few new features debuted as well, such as active four-wheel steering, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera and a rev-matching feature for the automatic transmission's manual shift mode.
We've been able to test the latest generation extensively and have come away very impressed. The car's performance capabilities are certainly its strongest points. The standard 306-horsepower engine provides plenty of thrust, and it's backed by stable handling dynamics and great brakes. Nor does this performance focus come at the expense of comfort. The G's interior is sharply styled, decently roomy for this class of car and can be equipped with an optional hard-drive-based navigation system that can also store music files.
There are some minor issues with the 2008 Infiniti G35. The weighting of the steering, for instance, can feel artificial at times, and manual transmission-equipped cars have a tricky clutch engagement. But overall, the G35 is one of our favorite luxury sport sedans, especially when price is factored in -- even fully equipped, the G35 can cost thousands less than the competition. This isn't to say that you shouldn't consider the BMW or other luminaries like the Audi A4, Lexus IS 350 and Cadillac CTS. All are excellent choices. But if we'd have to name one car capable of rattling the 3 Series, the G35 would be our pick.