Test Drive: 2011 Infiniti IPL “G” Coupe

Infiniti introduces In-house IPL Performance Division

Up until now, Infiniti’s models that exceeded the normal performance levels of standard issue vehicles, were designated as Sport models with an “S” suffix. Infiniti, however, decided that the time was right to answer the call of loyal enthusiast customers for an even higher level of enhanced performance. That new level of performance will come in the form of a new dedicated focus called Infiniti Performance Line or IPL, featuring a special logo, look and enhanced performance capability, but without a humongous elevation in price over its base model vehicles.

IPL models will concentrate on the total driving experience and not simply upon engine power and acceleration. IPL delivers “Inspired Performance”. The IPL division projects a future collection of luxury performance vehicles that will rank competitively with other performance divisions such as Audi’s S-Line, BMW’s M division, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG arm and enhanced domestic performance lines as well.

Production volumes of IPL vehicles will be limited, providing exclusivity in the form of elevated handling, power and torque, while also featuring an IPL-specific exhaust signature note, an enhanced expression of the original vehicle in terms of styling, IPL-exclusive wheels, aerodynamic improvements and special interior treatments.

The first product to represent the Infiniti Performance Line is the 2011 IPL G Coupe, which is based on Infiniti’s G37 Journey model, and will be powered by an IPL-tuned 3.7-liter (VQ37HR) DOHC, 24-valve V6 that makes 348 horsepower (+18) at 7,400 rpm along with 276 pound feet of torque (+6) at 5,200 rpm. The engine sports an IPL-exclusive engine cover, and exhaust gasses exit via an IPL-tuned, high-flow crossover exhaust through 4.7-inch dual tips. Exhaust pressure is reduced by 30 percent. The engine delivers motive energy to the rear wheels through either a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox or a 7-speed automatic transmission with column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters. 

The IPL-tuned suspension consists of specific spring rates, increased by 20 percent up front and 10 percent in the rear, in addition to specific shock tuning. The steering gear is sport-tuned as well, and the Sport brakes provide larger rotors. There’s also a Viscous limited-slip differential.

The IPL G Coupe rolls on IPL-exclusive 19-inch split, 7-spoke design alloy wheels finished in a unique gunmetal gray finish and shod with Bridgestone Potenza REO50A staggered summer tires – 225/45 R19 front and 245/40 R19 rear.

In terms of exterior design, the Infiniti IPL G Coupe differs from the base model G37 and features an emotive front fascia with integrated fog lights, unique side sills, an aggressive rear fascia with a rear deck-lid spoiler, the large, round, chrome exhaust tips and IPL badging. The 2011 IPL G coupe will be available in only two colors – Graphite Shadow metallic and Malbec Black with a subtle red metalflake treatment.

Moving to the inside, leather-appointed interior choices include a Graphite or Monaco Red tone with IPL specific red accent stitching on the seats and steering wheel. Accent trim pieces are executed in silk-finish aluminum. In addition to its special appointments, the IPL G Coupe comes with all of the features and equipment found on the G37 Journey model, which includes: Plus Premium, Sport and Navigation Packages; Bose® Studio on Wheels™ premium audio system; Moonroof; power tilt/telescopeic steering wheel; aluminum pedals and dead-pedal; Sport seats; Navigation system with XM® NavTraffic, NavWeather and Zagat Guide; and Rearview Monitor.

The fully equipped IPL G Coupe goes on sale in December 2010 and will be priced according to one’s transmission choice. The six-speed manual version is priced at $47,950 , while the seven-speed automatic version with paddle shifters will be priced at $49,850. Add $875 each for Destination and Handling charges. 

SUMMARY: I was afforded the opportunity to experience behind the wheel time in both transmission versions of the IPL G Coupe and both are impressive in their own right. The manual version’s close ratio delivers crisp gear changes in either direction, but I actually preferred the smoothness and lack of effort required by the 7-speed automatic, which even though adds an extra $1,900. to the sticker, seems to be well worth it. The automatic is capable of changing gears more quickly and efficiently than most drivers are able to do in the fully automatic mode, and it delivers a smoother transition in gear changes when shifting manually with the paddle shifters. 

Acceleration is exceptionally quick for a naturally aspirated V6, handling attributes are athletically quick and positive, and the ride quality, even though the suspension componentry is specially tuned for added stiffness and stability, is surprisingly compliant and comfortable.                                                          

In the final analysis, the 2011 Infiniti IPL G Coupe signifies a most logical move for Nissan’s luxury division – it delivers a sporty, luxury performance coupe, that’s a cut above its former enhanced performance models on all counts – looks, power and ride, and all without breaking one’s personal bank. Rest assured, fellow enthusiasts, the IPL G Coupe may be the first IPL model, but it definitely won’t be the last.

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