Infiniti G35

Infiniti G35x Sedan vs BMW 330i


Let me caveat this review and comparison by stating that my '06 BMW 330i was a stick shift with the sports package and summer wheels, while my G35x is an auto, and obviously has all wheel drive and no sports package. Also since the 335i is now out, that is obviously a much better car to compare to the G35 than the 330i from a power perspective, but I haven't owned or driven a 335i, and the price differential is even bigger, so I thought I'd post my comparison here despite that.

Obviously this review is based on my own opinions and experiences, and I'm sure there will be folks who disagree with me on some points - Such is the nature of opinions.

Another point is that I'm a car nut, but I don't track my cars - have never raced, etc. I probably don't ever drive my cars more than '90%' or so. I just love driving. Up to now I have owned mostly german cars and only stick shifts, with this being my first auto (my wife drives only autos though).

The BMW 330i had the sports package, premium package and cold weather package retailed for
$43500 and I paid $41750. I also paid an additional $350 for the iPod connector part and installation. The 330i comes with the upgraded Logic7 sound system. Maintenance is included for the first 4 years or 50000 miles, but oil changes can only be done when the car's computer tells you that you need one - typically every 15k miles.

The G35x has every option available including Navigation with real time traffic, the 10GB hard drive that comes with that, upgraded sound system, the equivalent of BMW's comfort access - ie. keep your key in your pocket, voice activation for everything, wood trim (standard on the BMW), adaptive cruise control, rear backup camera and so on. Sticker price was $40500 (or thereabouts) and I paid $38350. This includes free maintenance for the first 2 years and 30000 miles (including the 30k miles service and oil changes as often as I want). Also includes a full interior and exterior detail once a year for the lifetime of the car, and a complimentary car wash once a week. These latter two are not standard Infiniti fare as I understand it, but rather specials offered by the dealership I purchased from.

Features:

The G35x is the clear winner in terms of features for the money. While I haven't driven a BMW with iDrive, reviews of the iDrive are not very good, while Infiniti's equivalent is regarded as being pretty good. I think Infiniti's control console takes some getting used to and could be simpler to use in some respects, and I find it very annoying that half the features are greyed out while you drive, but it's still very powerful and overall relatively easy to use. The voice activation is very good although I'm still in the process of learning all the commands.

I actually really like the keyless entry in the G35x. I don't know what the point is in the BMW of having a stop/start button if you still have to put the key into the dash. Comfort access should be standard on BMW's.

The adaptive cruise control is very useful too on long drives - another thing I wasn't sure I would like that I actually like a lot. The rear backup camera is excellent and I love the color coding that tells you how far objects are from you. I have found this useful when parallel parking, and in our street there are a lot of kids playing around on the street because it's a cul de sac - so I like the idea that I can see if there are kids behind me more
easily. BMW doesn't offer the rear backup camera on the 3 series as far as I know. They have PDC (park distance control), which beeps more frequently as you get closer to items behind you - nice, but not quite the same, and it costs extra - I didn't have it on my 330i.

Overall, I feel that the features which both cars have are about the same in terms of function. I actually like the BMW's weird indicator that jumps back to its original position after it's tapped to turn.

There are little clever goodies on each car that the other doesn't have. I like the Infiniti's sun visors a lot because you can extend them out to block off a larger section of the side or front window. I didn't like the placement of the BMW's window controls - felt it was too far forward, and I far prefered the interior of the E46 bmw in terms of accessibility and ease of use. But on the plus side for the BMW, every single control just has a very high quality feel to it that is there in most, but not all of the Infiniti controls.

The cupholders are terrible in both cars. The BMW's cup holders are a mess waiting to happen. As soon as the drink you have in there gets lighter, it pops out on it's own accord. Their position is also too far from the driver. The Infiniti's are great if you only want to use one at a time. Since they're next to each other, I find that if I have two Starbucks iced coffees next to each other, both end up being at an angle, and I end up spilling on both sides . Not sure why cupholders are still such a challenge for automakers in this day and age.

The bluetooth in the BMW worked a little better in terms of voice quality with more phones than the Infiniti does, but the Infiniti's allows connections to multiple phones (my phone, my wife's phone, etc.) a lot more intuitively, and when it does work with a phone, it works well (eg. the Audiovox 6600). Both manufacturers officially supported bluetooth phone lists are outdated and too small in my humble opinion, but I understand how challenging it is to test these cars with every single phone out there, and that's just not possible.

The sound systems are both excellent in my (non audiophile) opinion. The Logic7 has a great surround sound feature and is a huge step ahead of the E46's Harman Kardon upgraded sound system. There's no comparison. The G35's upgraded sound system doesn't have surround sound, but it's got good base response and is very clear even at relatively high volumes. The Infiniti has the clear edge in this one though because of the 10GB hard drive and the CF card reader, neither of which is an option with the BMW.

I like the fact that the BMW has 60/40 split foldable rear seats. The Infiniti has a pass through, but the seats don't fold.

Driving Experience:

Ok, lets get to the meat. How do they drive? For me, steering, acceleration, road holding and overall ride are the most important aspects of a car.

I think the steering is better in the BMW because it feels more linear while the Infiniti's steering is fantastic at high speeds (probably nicer than the bimmers), but is very light at low speeds - so the change is very non-linear, and at low speeds it doesn't feel as sporty because of that. Still, it is nice when I'm parking the Infiniti, that the steering is so light at that time. I wouldn't have bought the Infiniti at all if the steering remained light at higher speeds (as the Lexus IS350 does).

The Infiniti's acceleration is amazing. It just seems to have huge amounts of torque and power anywhere in the rev range. It feels (and is) significantly quicker than the 330i. The auto box in the G35 is a gem in my view. It's DS mode seems to read my mind and shifts where I would want it to most of the time. I love the manumatic gearbox too and while it's not as quick as Audi and VW's DSG, it's still pretty quick considering it's not a double clutch type of greabox.

The BMW feels slower than it is, although it got quicker over time - felt a lot quicker at 10000 miles than it did at 1200 miles, but no where near the instantaneous acceleration of the G35. I always felt that the E46 330i felt quicker for whatever reason. The BMW's stick shift for me is phenomenal. It just feels fantastic and just right to me as stick shifts go. I also love the clutch effort and feel in the BMW.

Handling/road holding is slightly better in the BMW, but it's worth considering that I had summer tires on the BMW, while I have all seasons on my Infiniti. I think changing the size of the wheels and the tires would have an impact on this. Both feel exhilirating in fast corners and on fast switch backs, and the Infiniti's handling is excellent.

The G35x has a better ride in my view and is more comfortable over bumps, although the BMW is also good in this department (my wife drives an 05 BMW X3 and its ride is terrible compared to either of these cars).

Overall ownership experience is much more pleasant with the G35 because the sales and service experience is much better so far. Time will tell if that remains the case over the long term.

Summary

To sum up, I think that there are definitely areas that each car has advantages over the other, but both cars are excellent. We are priviliged to live in a time when 300hp in a sports/luxury sedan is not unusual, and not difficult to drive. Overall, because of the ownership experience, and the G35's superior acceleration and features for the price, I'm happy with my decision to switch from the 330i to the G35x.

Tamir Orbach is a Guest Editor on G37driver.com.

 
 

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