After the spectacular failure of my Crown Vic, I was in need of a new car. I picked up a 2004 Infiniti G35 6MT, and here are my finding after six months of ownership.
This svelte sedan’s design is older than I am, but it’s somehow managed to age better than your humble reviewer. The G35's bodylines are very clean, with certain contours like the fender lines and hood contours looking especially crisp. The “Advanced Front Midship” construction is mostly advertising garbage, but the long dash-to-axle-ratio and the Laffy Taffy-inspired wheelbase stretches the wheels out to the corners of the car to help this not-a-Skyline look both long and planted. Nissan opted for brick-style LED taillights on pre-facelift G35 sedans and they’ve actually aged quite well. This example is equipped with a Diode Dynamics tail-as-turn kit that brings the rear lighting up to date by making the LED bricks also act as the turn signals. The aftermarket chin spoiler prevents the front end from looking like leafyishere’s face, while the OEM rear spoiler prevents the rear end from looking droopy. OEM G35 Coupe 18-inch wheels painted bronze amp up the visual presence with larger diameter and lower offset than the stock sedan wheels. Overall it looks great and fools people into believing that this 2004 model is more expensive than it is.
The G35 is a Skyline for the North American Market, which means it isn’t an especially luxurious luxury car. That being said, the interior is still quite nice. The seats are pretty awesome for relatively normal seats, the leather is good quality, the steering wheel feels meaty, and there’s plenty of passenger room. The rear seat doesn’t fold down, but that sacrifice is made in the name of one hell of a toy (see: “toys”). Build quality is pretty great, no squeaks or rattles to note. All functions still work great, and the materials are actually pretty nice. The ergonomics of all the primary driving controls are pretty ace. My only gripe with the G35 is that it’s an early example of the great electronic swindle of removing traditional and sensical secondary controls from cars. Spill your drink and short out the top-mounted power seat controls (a mix of toggle switches and re-purposed window switches)? It’s your fault for being clumsy. Wishing for set of temperature buttons for each climate control zone? Infiniti doesn’t support the idea of handouts. Want a volume knob? Hahahahaha! At least the good build quality almost makes up for it, and the primary controls grant you power over mechanicals that definitely make up for the strange and sometimes puritanical secondary control layout.
In the words of Johnny Bravo: Woah mama! The big Johnny VQ35DE V6 stands out among the limp-wristed entry-level inline sixes in BMWs and Lexuses of the time. 260 at the crank from the factory, and now damn near 300 horsepower with bolt-ons. This bad boy actually boogies, rocketing up to highway speeds faster than a German Shepherd can scarf down a dropped gas station hot dog. It sure as hell ain’t AMG or M3 fast, but for the money I’m certainly not complaining.
The pre-facelift sedans got single-piston calipers all-round and vented discs. Bite is progressive and pedal feel is pretty good. They’re just good, solid brakes, okay?
This particular G35 has aftermarket coilovers for the sake of handling. While they certainly help handling, comments on ride quality from passengers have ranged from, “wow, this rides pretty rough,” to “wow, this was a bad day to not wear a bra.” Points are re-gained due to great damping control.
So here’s where the coilovers and coupe wheels and 235/45R18 summer tires come into their own. This thing feels “mad tyte” or whatever people say. It freakin’ carves and it’s so stable while doing so. The steering weights the hell up once you start driving like you mean it, and steering feedback is actually pretty good for a luxury sedan. Between the heavy steering and the aftermarket clutch, this G35 is practically a V6-powered Bowflex. This thing actually handles like a sports car, and that’s not a phrase I use lightly.
The Nissan CD00x is a legendary transmission, save for crunchy synchros on very early CD003s. Thankfully, this example is not affected and so shifts are crisp and short through the ultra-notchy. The upgraded clutch is pretty heavy and somewhat grabby, but actually not that hard to get used to. If I were building a drift car, this would be my first choice of transmission.
Audiophiles know the saying “no highs, no lows, must be Bose” off by heart, but thankfully this Bose stereo doesn’t sound flat at all. Bass is crisp, treble is tightly controlled and midrange is strong. It’s a decent stock system for 2004. The best noises, however, come from the mechanicals. The exhaust screams at high RPMs, with a note that’s a cross between a nuclear-powered Dyson and my mom’s reaction whenever I put an empty container back in the fridge. The Stillen intake produces a noticeable *whoosh* like what you thought the ghost-catching machine from Luigi’s Mansion would sound like in real life, and the transmission clicks through the gears with turnstile-esque solidity. Wringing this thing out is a wonder to the senses.
This thing has plenty of toys! Sunroof, Bose stereo, climate control, HID low-beams, LED taillights, heated seats and mirrors and automatic window switches for all four windows. The backseats recline, you can drop the windows from the key fob and raise them from the lock cylinder on the door.
When new this was very much a car for people with caffeine in their bloodstream and a Bluetooth headset in one of their earholes. Its modern equivalent retails for $47,995 Canadian, and you wouldn’t catch me dead paying that much for something like this. Thankfully, this G35 was only $4900 before taxes, and I haven’t had to put much into it. This really is a dangerous amount of car for under $5000, so treat it with respect if you just picked one up and have no clue what you’re doing. Honestly, I doubt I could have picked up a better all-rounder for $5k.