Infiniti outstrips sporty rivals

In Consumer Reports’ recent tests of four-seat convertibles, the Infiniti G37, Lexus IS 250 and Audi A5 all posted “Very Good” overall scores.
The Infiniti G37 and Lexus IS 250 earned overall road test scores of 77, slightly outdistancing the Audi A5 convertible, which earned a “Very Good” test score of 74. All three fall among the better models in the category, which included the previously tested Volkswagen Eos and BMW 328i.
The G37 is a hardtop convertible based on the sporty G, consistently a top-performer in CR’s tests. The IS 250 is pleasant and refined but it’s not as sporty. The A5 is stylish and luxurious and its soft top can be operated on the move.
CR also tested two smaller, less-expensive, sportier convertibles, each with a manual transmission — the Mini Cooper S, which earned a 77 road test score, and the Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring, which earned an 89 road test score.
Only the Miata is recommended among the convertibles in this test group. CR only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey of its more than 7 million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.
Prices ranged from $44,400 for the IS 250 to $49,300 for the Audi A5 among the sedan-based convertibles. The Miata and Mini Cooper cost $31,150 and $32, 850, respectively.
CR’s findings include:
— Infiniti G37. The G37 convertible’s ride is stiffer and less comfortable than the sedan. The highway ride is firm, but there’s too much noise, mostly from wind and the tires. Body shake is evident when the hard top is down. The Infiniti G37 convertible ($48,715 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested) is powered by a 325-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine that gives strong performance and gets 20 mpg overall on premium fuel in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly and is very responsive.
— Lexus IS. The IS 250 has a plush interior, simple controls and a smooth powertrain. But the handling is uninspiring, and the rear seat is cramped. On all but the smoothest pavement, the ride feels unsettled, and that nervousness persists on the highway. The Lexus IS 250 convertible ($44,400 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 204-hp, 2.5-liter V6 engine that performs well and gets 23 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive.
— Audi A5. The A5 convertible has an impressive ride and handling balance, exterior styling and a well-crafted interior, and optional all-wheel drive adds to its appeal. The ride is firm but supple. Agile handling and quick steering make it fun to drive. The A5 2.0 TFSI Quattro Premium Plus ($49,300 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 211-hp 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that provides good performance and got 22 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly.
— Mazda MX-5 Miata. The MX-5 is fun to drive, with pinpoint handling, instant power delivery and a crisp manual gearbox. There’s good isolation from bumps from the suspension, but there’s plenty of road hiss, wind rush and engine drone. The MX-5 Miata Grand Touring PRHT ($31,150 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 167-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 28 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission is fun and easy to shift.
Mini Cooper. The Mini Cooper convertible is very agile and fun to drive. Punchy acceleration adds to its character. The ride is stiff and choppy, but it’s better on the highway. The Mini Cooper S ($32,850 MSRP as tested) is powered by a turbocharged 172-hp, 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine that delivers lively performance and 30 mpg overall with premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission provides short, quick shifts.

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