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car review

2012 Infiniti G37 Sport CoupeJames Yates

The same day that I picked up my Infiniti G37 Coupe test car, Barack Obama announced that the Keystone pipeline was now officially dead in the water, and native leaders and environmentalists across Canada declared that they were banding together to fight the Northern Gateway oil pipeline project with every means at their disposal. What with Ottawa and Alberta digging in to get the oil out one way or another, we could have a real scrap on our hands this summer.

What does this have to do with Infiniti's sleek sport coupe? Well, the writing may be on the wall as far as the automobile as we know it is concerned. North American tree-huggers appear to be having some sort of an anti-oil temper tantrum, and gasoline and all petroleum products may become as scarce as hen's teeth in the years to come.

If enough people reject oil and all that it represents, the internal combustion-engined car will become an endangered species. To quote David Suzuki: "In today's world, all fossil fuels are unethical."

And models like the G37 will be among the first casualties. This is a lovely automobile in almost every respect, but practical it's not, and driving it is way too much fun. When the oil hits the fan, say goodbye to models like this one.

In the meantime, the G37 is aimed squarely at those who like to slip behind the wheel and let 'er rip. It's one of the nicest packages coming out of Infiniti's stable.

A few particulars. This edition of the G37 Coupe comes in five varieties. My test car was the AWD Sport version and has retuned suspension and various interior and exterior styling cues to distinguish it from its stable-mates.

Power is delivered via a gasoline-consuming 3.7-litre V-6 that develops 330 horsepower and transmission is a seven-speed automatic with a manual shift feature, married to an AWD system.

The AWD system is Nissan/Infiniti's ATESSA ET-S arrangement, which means the vehicle starts off in AWD and then reverts to RWD when traction to the front wheels is no longer needed. This system is used throughout Infiniti's model range and is unobtrusive and efficient. Makes more sense than most other "on-demand" systems too, if you think about it. The transmission can be accessed via steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, which I used a lot.

The engine is an iteration of the corporate VQ series and is, as they say, proven. I'm hard-pressed to think of another engine in the automotive industry that is used as widely as this one, and it's been installed in everything from 4WD trucks to luxury sedans to family haulers. No complaints here, and the exhaust note, in particular, is rich and intoxicating. Nissan/Infiniti spend all kinds of time and resources on their exhaust systems and, if you're a petrol-head, it's been money well spent.

Needless to say, this one is a goer. It'll zip from zero to 100 km/h in around five seconds, give or take, and even the base model hugs the curves and offers all kinds of driving kicks. With its tauter suspension, the Sport Coupe may qualify as one of the most tossable and best-handling coupes on the road. There isn't much in this price range that can keep up with it when the road starts to get technical. It hits the corners flat with almost no body lean, stays stable and exhibits virtually nothing in the way of understeer and oversteer. This is one I'd like to get on a track some time.

Unlike most vehicles of this ilk, the made-in-Japan G37 Sport Coupe doesn't require you to be double-jointed to get into the thing. Entry and exit is straightforward and both seats feature eight-way power adjustments. That said, the doors are absolutely huge on this car and when you open them, be sure you've got a couple of acres of empty space around you. In crowded shopping malls, for example, you're well advised to park away from everyone else. Back-seat elbow room is also pretty much non-existent, although a couple of small people could fit back there.

All G Coupes come well equipped, but the AWD Sport has a rev-matching engine feature that blips the throttle each time you gear down (lovely!), as well as leather interior, larger 19-inch wheels and tires, a limited-slip differential, firmer seat padding and absolutely huge four-wheel disc brakes.

My tester also had the Hi-Tech package, which includes intelligent cruise control, a navi system with voice recognition and a climate control system. It'll set you back an additional $3,750 and is of questionable value, in my opinion.

Still, in every respect, this is a driver's car, from stem to stern. It's also one of the most nicely styled sport coupes out there and conveys an image of athleticism, power and sophistication. Aside from the back end being perched a little too high in the air, there isn't an ugly line on it.

None of which will save it if the environmental hardliners have their way.

2012 Infiniti AWD G37 Sport Coupe

Type: Four-passenger sports car

Base Price: $51,700; as tested, $57,400

Engine: 3.7-litre V-6

Horsepower/torque: 330 hp/270 lb-ft

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel/rear-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.7 city/7.8 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: Chevrolet Camaro SS, BMW 135i Coupe, Cadillac CTS Coupe, Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang GT, Lexus IS350