Does an entry-level luxury sedan need 300 horsepower? For almost 10 years, Infiniti has answered "yes" since the popular G sedan has only been available with a high output V6 engine. For 2012, the automaker has changed it mind and is offering the less powerful G25 sedan.
As its name suggests, the G25 features a 2.5 L V6 engine that produces 218 horsepower and 187 lb.-ft. torque. This same engine is used in several Infiniti models overseas. And we thus wonder why it has taken Infiniti so long to bring it to the U.S., especially since it is a charming little engine?
Although output is more than 100 horespower less than the 3.7 L V6 found in the G37, performance in everyday driving is more than adequate, and fuel economy gets a small bump, from 19/27 (city/hwy) to 20/29 (city/hwy). After driving the car for more than 400 miles, we averaged close to 24 mpg, which is close to averages of some 4-cylinder sedans that have much more compromised performance.
Another plus is that the little V6 is more than eager to rev well past 6,000 rpm, something you can’t really say about the larger V6, which gets a bit coarse at high rpms. The exhaust note also has a nice growl and altogether the engine does a nice job of convincing the driver that it is anything but entry-level.
Infiniti smartly decided to include the same seven-speed automatic in the G25 that is in the G37. The extra gear ratio increases performance and efficiency. Shifting is really quick and commendably smooth, although we wish Infiniti would offer paddle shifters. For those who like to drive the engine hard, take the G25 out for an afternoon tour of the local backroads. Like the G37, the G25 features a balanced suspension and capable chassis. It allows the car to excel at everyday tasks like commuting, yet it still retains enough sporting character to make taking the long way home worthwhile.
Even with unassuming 17-inch all-season tires mounted at each corner, the level of cornering grip is impressive and the overall road handling is well above average. You have to really push it before the G25 starts to roll around a bit much, and even then the precise steering and neutral handling make it easy to bring back in line. Many cars in this segment won’t embarrass themselves on a twisty road, and the G25 is easily among the best amid the choices.
The G25 features the same well-executed interior as the G37, but many luxury features are missing. Want premium sound or a navigation system? Sorry. You’ll have to spring for the larger engine to get either. Basic luxury features come standard, including leather upholstery, power adjustable front seats and automatic climate control. The G25 Journey adds dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a rear-view camera, and the option of a power sunroof/moonroof.
Infiniti has apparently decided to differentiate the G25 from the G37 in terms of more than just the size of the engine. All options packages, such as the Sport Package and Technology Package, are only available on the G37, making the G25 a stripped down model. It's unfortunate. We can envision potential customers who don’t need the larger engine of the G37, but still want to have nicer interior and exterior features.
As the popularity of sedans like the BMW 328i, Lexus IS250, and Audi A4 shows, there is a large market for a relatively inexpensive luxury sedan. But can the Baby G can compete in the segment?
Another question is whether a small-displacement V6 is really the right choice as a base engine for a smaller luxury sedan. More manufacturers have turned to forced induction to achieve significant performance and efficiency gains. With small turbocharged 4-cyclinder engines now easily making more than 200 horsepower, the introduction of a small V6 seems like a move in the wrong direction.
Where Infiniti has always excelled, especially compared to the German brands, is value. The G25 is no exception. Starting at slightly more than $32,400 for the base model and topping out at $35,400 for the all-wheel drive G25x, the G25 undercuts the competition by at least several thousand dollars. That should guarantee a certain level of success.