By Zack Klapman.
From Wikipedia: “A grand tourer (Italian: gran turismo) (GT) is a performance or luxury automobile capable of high speed or spirited long-distance driving. The most common format is a two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement… automobiles regarded as grand tourers, able to make long-distance, high-speed journeys in both comfort and style.”
That’s what these cars are about, and that’s precisely what I did, driving about 800 miles in each, across highways, back roads, and AutoX courses. And though they share a drivetrain, a blind man could easily notice the differences.
Let’s get the elephant: The 2013 Infiniti G37S and 2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster Touring (Sport, but we’ll get to that) are practically the same car. Same boss (Nissan), same engine (330hp/270tq. 3.7L V6). 2 doors, curves, RWD, aimed at the successful grownup, which wants a daily driver with some style. But even the Olsen twins have differences, and since these cars are more fraternal twins, there are sharp separations in their space, comfort, and how they drive.
The topless Z
I’d say we’re starting with the “lesser” car, as Infiniti is the up-market Nissan, but the numbers say otherwise. The 370Z Roadster Touring starts at $44,000, $7,000 more than a coupe and only a grand shy of the G37S as-tested price.
But our tester had options too. The Sport Package and Sat NAV cost $5k, making this Nissan almost $50,000 Nissan. That Sport Package gives you “Euro-tuned” shocks, brakes that stop almost as fast as a Ferrari F430, bigger wheels and tires, and Syncho Rev Match, which blips the throttle perfectly for your downshifts. 5th to 4th, 4th to 2nd, it nails it every single time. Purists may snarl but during fast driving, it’s quite helpful. I felt a little dirty, but I still used it the whole week.
The center console is near identical to the Infiniti’s. Very cockpit like, round buttons in the center stack and the recessed NAV screen. Heated and cooled seats are a pleasure on long trip, as was the seating position and steering feedback.
But space is limited. To quote a rather short friend, “How do you both fit in there?” The trunk is equally small, barely holding two carryon-sized suitcases. The convertible roof folds in about 20 seconds, but only from a dead stop. I spent most of the time with it up, and the difference in road noise compared to a coupe is noticeable.
But enough with that, because what blew me away about this car is how it drives, and how it wants to be driven: fast. The oval wheel should have been a hint. Tight suspension, fast steering, grip and a love of tail-slides; this is a sporty car. It’s home is tight switchbacks or 90MPH straights. I tend to think of convertibles as the fairer sex in the world of cars, but not this one. It’s tight and quick and has excellent grip. It’s a base jumper wearing a Cardigan.
If these cars are twins, the G37S has the private practice but does a little boxing to stay in shape. Same drivetrain, similar speed, with a layer of fine wool and polish separating you from the mechanics. Steering feel is excellent, and the suspension is much more comfortable for long trips. The 370Z never unsettled over bumps, but you heard them. The G silenced them like a freight train driving over an Oreo.
The leather seats (standard) are nearly perfect, supportive, and infinitely adjustable. Some of the plastics are getting old, as are the gauges, but it works well and is very comfortable, even in the back seat.
There is a smoothness to this car that I fell in love with. Not the engine, which sounds a little rough down low and vibrates the clutch pedal up high, but the cadence, the ease with which it churns down the road. The body is slippery and immune to crosswinds, and it was just as efficient (25MPG) at 65MPH as 90. This is what you want in a grand tourer; the ability to travel quickly across long distances without feeling like you finished a bar fight when you get there. The Nissan 370Z is a better sports car, but if that’s what you want, buy the coupe.
That brings us to money. The G37S starts at $45,795 dollars, which includes NAV, leather, backup camera, Bluetooth, and heated/cooled seats, all which cost extra in the Z. So the car from the “fancier” brand, with extra seats and a nicer ride, is also cheaper.
I love long-distance drives in sporty cars, but not sunburned, with a shrunken trunk, and a lighter wallet. The Infiniti G37S is a Zen teahouse that goes 140MPH, and if I’m driving 1,000 miles, that’s what I want.