x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

2011 Infiniti G25

As in sport, there's more to performance motoring than just outright power, and my first impression of the G25 is that I had forgotten how well Infiniti's smallest sedan handles.

The G25 is the baby version of the G37.
The G25 is the baby version of the G37.

The wise move, at least if you're after the accolades of an often fickle motoring press, is to always launch the lesser version of a new automobile before the top-of-the-line trim. Ours is a culture where more is always better and, despite the contention of environmentalists the world over that fuel economy is the new standard by which cars are judged, horsepower is one of those things that we can't seem to get enough of. Setting our hearts racing with a fast super car and then foisting on us its lesser endowed, smaller displacement sibling pretty much guarantees that the base version will develop younger brother syndrome - ignored, belittled and seldom appreciated.

In other words - just in case you somehow missed that I am one of those for whom "more is better" is a way of life - I wasn't expecting much from the recently unveiled G25, the baby version of Infiniti's G37 entry-level sedan. After all, its V6 sports but 218 horsepower and 253Nm of torque, numbers that pale in comparison to the 328hp and 365Nm of torque the steroidal G37 boasts. Considering that Infiniti purports to be the performance luxury brand of the Asian set, smaller did not seem to fit the supposedly sporty image.

But as in sport, there's more to performance motoring than just outright power, and my first impression of the G25 is that I had forgotten how well Infiniti's smallest sedan handles. Indeed, the G is the closest thing on four wheels that Japan has to BMW's iconic 3 Series: tight steering, firm suspension and a rear-wheel-drive platform. Tossing the G25 about revealed minimal body roll and that near-ideal front-to-rear weight balance that is such a characteristic of the BMW. I suspect that in a direct comparison, the sweet-handling 3 would still best the Japanese upstart, but on a twisty road the Infiniti might prove the superior of its Mercedes and Audi competition, high praise indeed for any sedan from the land of the rising sun.

It is obvious that, upon full throttle boogie, thereare considerably fewer less stallions under the hood than Big Brother boasts. And, there's actually a little more engine noise from the smaller engine simply because it needs to be spun harder and higher to get the necessary forward motion.

But in everyday motoring, I never really noticed any paucity of power. There's adequate, if not quite plenty, of punch from a stoplight - the seven-speed automatic's close gear ratios certainly help acceleration - and even passing on the motorway never seems lethargic. Unless power is an absolute must, there's not a whole lot to be sacrificed for choosing Infiniti's smaller V6. Just as in the 335 versus 328 argument, few will actually use the difference in performance.

Reasons not to buy the G25 are indeed few. Official fuel economy ratings don't show a huge improvement (approximately 10 per cent) in consumption compared with the G37, but in real life the gap should be more significant. Inside the cabin, the G25 is more aggressive than its exterior would indicate. However, some of its avante garde angles do cause issues. For instance, while the dramatically sloping control gauge layout for the audio system is stylish, the buttons are not easy to manipulate. The reach for the channel tuning knob is particularly unnecessary. The rest of the buttonry, however, is simple and easy manipulated. And, unlike other, more expensive Infinitis festooned with a plethora of intrusive safety gear - lane departure warnings, etc - the G25 is blessedly devoid of electronic gadgetry.

Another comparison between BMW and Infiniti - though this time not a superlative - continues inside. Both are on the slim side for five-passenger sedans. The cabin is hardly claustrophobic but it doesn't feel as large as, say, the Mercedes C-Class and is tighter than entry-level stalwarts like the Lexus ES350.

That said, Infiniti has rendered an almost Teutonic feel to the G25's cabin. My tester was clothed entirely in black, with seats likewise Teutonically firm, well bolstered and plenty lumbered. All in all, it makes the G-car feel less Asian than any of its homeland competitors.

Beneath my balding, 53-year-old exterior, I'm a testosterone-fuelled teenager; the creep of maturity has failed to blunt my need for speed. But, as sales of the BMW 328 and Lexis IS250 show around the world, for the majority of entry-level sedan buyers, power is not the defining requirement.

Unfortunatley, here in the UAE, we will have to settle for more power and the cost that goes with it; the G25 is currently not available here.