2011 Infiniti G37xS

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Pay no attention to the green grass; Infiniti’s G37xS sport coupe is a snowmobile.

SNOW COUNTRY is where I live, so it isn’t always good to see a sleek, low-slung, high-performance coupe hunkered in the driveway—at least when it’s under a thick blanket of the white stuff.

But a peek at the shapely derriere of this machine reveals an extra letter in its nomenclature.

It’s an Infiniti G37xS, and that little “x” makes all the difference. X as in X-country, meaning all-wheel drive. This is no hothouse orchid meant just for dry pavement and sunny skies.

My theory is that a car that behaves well when the conditions are favorable is automatically going to have an edge when the manure hits the impeller, nature-wise.

The G37xS bears this out beautifully. I swept the white stuff off the windows and then, without firing up the snowblower, just backed out onto the street. Then the Infiniti thought it was a dogsled bringing serum to Nome—sprinting down the (snowy) straights, arcing through the (snowy) corners, climbing snowy hills without missing a beat and then descending the other side in perfect control. A winter tire at each corner helps, of course.

The G’s pretty skin and upmarket fitments are wrapped around the drivetrain of its sister ship, the Nissan 370Z, one of the world’s benchmark sports cars. Under the hood is a 3.7-liter V-6 worth 330 horsepower. The engine snarls through a pair of big-bore exhaust pipes and can drive all four wheels through a crisp seven-speed automatic transmission, which, whether it’s in normal or in Sport mode, leaves most manual gearboxes for dead. The driver can toggle it by finger, too, with paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, but the only reason for doing that is to hear the revs blip on steep downshifts. Acceleration is instantaneous and impressive, all the more so when the roads are slippery. You’d never suspect this car carries the extra weight of an AWD system.

In bluebird weather, the only way to fully appreciate the G37’s athletic abilities is to wring it out on a closed track. To do so on public roads would be to invite disaster. But a coating of snow lets us hang the tail out, power slide through corners and feel at-the-limits acceleration at much lower speeds. Just get up early, before the plows ruin everything and your neighbors are there to watch. (And, naturally, do be careful and don’t tell anyone you read it here.) On the other hand, if you’re an adult and you’ve outgrown hooning around, this lovely transmission even has a Snow setting, which cuts the power and reduces wheel spin.

When you have returned to your driveway, look around the G37 cockpit. Nice touches abound: The steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and the entire instrument binnacle moves up and down with it, so the wheel never hides the top of the speedo and tach. The driver’s seat can be snugged around one’s hips and torso, for better grip. The center stack has the usual climate and entertainment controls, but they were arranged by someone with a grasp of both logic and ergonomics. You don’t feel like you’re sitting in a laptop computer, and finding a radio station won’t raise your blood pressure, nor even distract you much from driving.

If you want four doors and proper back seats, ones that grownups can actually sit in, there’s a G37x sedan as well.

Power, handling, response, balance, looks, comfort, refinement, luxury, quality, toys—the G37xS has it all. If there are any trade-offs, like soggy handling for comfort, I can’t find them. This is a brilliant car; no one could do it better, not the Germans, not the Brits, not even the Italians. And certainly not for $42,000.

And no, not Detroit, either.