Every luxury carmaker nurtures a performance division that serves up extra-steroidal versions of the mainstream offerings. Cadillac has its V cars, BMW has the M division, Mercedes has AMG. Even Lexus has its F offshoot. But what about Infiniti? Nissan’s luxury division has mostly forsaken the glory of stuffing a huge motor under the hood and an extra letter or two on the trunk. Infiniti has no AMG of its own. But it does have IPL, and that’s a start.
IPL stands for Infiniti Performance Line, and it’s roughly analogous to Audi’s S-Line, offering a package of modest upgrades without radically remaking the underlying vehicle. In the case of the Infiniti G37 IPL convertible, the 3.7-liter V6 benefits from a power bump from 325 to 343 hp. The IPL car also gets firmer suspension, along with new wheels, a louder exhaust system with 30 percent less backpressure, and plenty of IPL badges.
Before I drove the car, I thought I’d assess the merits of the IPL improvements. But it turns out there’s not much to assess—the G37 IPL drives like a slightly quicker, slightly louder G37S. So my thoughts turned to grander issues, namely the virtues and vices of retractable hardtop convertibles.
On this matter, my own opinion is a weather vane. I drive a soft-top car, like a Jaguar XK, and I revel in its style and top-down luggage capacity (cloth-top cars tend to retain usable trunk space even when the top is down). Then I drive a hardtop car like the G37 and marvel at its sheer mechanical ambition, its ability to convincingly play the role of both coupe and convertible. Given the overwhelming proliferation of hardtop convertibles, is the ragtop obsolete?
I decided it was time to take a long drive in the G37 and reach some conclusions. Which required driving deep into the Everglades, seeking introspection aboard an airboat and going face-to-face with an alligator. By the time I got back to Miami, I had some answers.