2009 Infiniti G37 vs. BMW 328i, Audi A4, and Acura TL

2009 Infiniti G37 vs. BMW 328i, Audi A4, and Acura TL 2009 Infiniti G37 vs. BMW 328i, Audi A4, and Acura TL
Comparison Tests

For executives undergoing painful downsizing, may we suggest something in the $40,000 range, smart yet modest in posture compared with the usual CEO barge. Something in a sports sedan would keep the mood casual. Just in time, we have two new international choices: the bravely chiseled Acura TL and the softly molded Audi A4. The Acura, apart from its polarizing, sharply creased style, brings Honda’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive to the middleweight sports class. The A4 brings variable lift on the exhaust valves of the 2.0-liter turbo four, upping output 11 horses to 211.

They join two other old favorites that have been smartly upgraded for 2009: BMW’s ever-popular 328i gets new headlights and hood in front; new wheels, mirrors, and sills in the side view; new taillights, decklid, and bumper in back; and of course, an increment of $900 on the bottom line. The Infiniti G35 of last year is now vitamin fortified and rechristened G37 to reflect the V-6 upsizing to 3.7 liters from 3.5. The previous 306-horse version romped all comers at the drag strip. They should expect even less mercy now.

There are other appealing choices in this class: the flying-wedge Cadillac CTS is one, as is the mini-Benz C300 Sport from Mercedes. But league rules prevail (it’s our league, but never mind)—once a car is left behind in a comparison test, it’s off the roster when future test combatants are being rounded up unless there’s some significant transformation. In fact, the G35 finished second to the BMW 328i in our January 2008 meeting of this class. But as enamored of power as we are, the newly harnessed 22 horses of the G37 convinced us of its promise.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed that certain carmakers are hanging by threads, and car sales within the U.S. are running just over half of the rate considered normal a few years ago. With sales turgid, production is down and the choice of models available to us is thinner than we’ve ever seen. So we have two six-speed manuals here, matched against two automatics. The TL SH-AWD won’t be available with the car guy’s favorite lever until later this year. The A4 stick is in the catalog now, but the only version we could scare up before the deadline was a six-speed automatic wearing $13,000 worth of options. So the cars’ as-tested prices range more than $10,000 around our $40K target.

Okay, enough hemming and hawing. Let’s see how they stack up.