Comparo: 2004 Cadillac CTS 3.6 and 2003 Infiniti G35 Sedan
Having driven in and rode in both, now that our family has both sitting in our driveway, and having put around or over 2,000 miles on each since the purchase, I felt it was about time to do a comparison of the two.
The exterior is love-it-or-hate-it for both of these cars. Some call the G35 bug-eyed, ugly. Others call it a gorgeous machine. The CTS doesn’t get skipped in the tug-of-war of love and hate when it comes to its looks, either. Many say the CTS’s styling is way to edgy, to aggressive. Yet on the other side of the ring are the people saying it’s the best looking sports sedan in its class – period.
I, myself, happen to love both. While it took years to warm up to the G35’s styling, I now have come to love its shape and lines. The CTS, on the other hand, I fell in love with since day one that I saw it, and I still do today.
While the G35’s interior in 2003 was good, the center consol consisted of hard – albeit high-quality – black plastic. And although the interior is not class-leading, it certainly isn’t worst in class. That honor goes to the CTS. The CTS’s interior is by far this cars weakest link. The whole dash seems to be of plastic. And even though there’s much in the way of soft-touch material throughout the cabin, it still looks and gives the feel of a cheapish, rental-grade interior considering the price and class this car plays in.
EDIT IN: With four passangers, both vehicles are very comfortable, as both have good backseats. The G35's rear seats can recline, and while the CTS's doesn't, it has more room. When it comes to five passangers, however, the CTS wins that contest easily with more room and a smaller middle "hump" in the ground and in the seat.
Power train and Transmission:
A strong point for both of these cars, the G35’s power train is silky-smooth and easily accepting of modifications. It’s power band is pretty flat, albeit not quite as flat as the CTS’s. It offers decent torque while offering a little more horsepower than the CTS’s 255.
One thing you will notice about the CTS, however, is that you need to floor it to get a big rush of power. The G35, on the other hand, requires less input for a respectable rush of power. Once the CTS’s rush of power hits, however, you’re pushed into your seat after a second’s delay while it downshifts, a rush that makes the CTS feel more powerful than the spec sheet will tell you. The G35, in the mean time, will also offer a burst of power, but it comes on smoother instead of the slam-you-into-your-seat feel of the CTS.
In the end, while the G35 is quicker, both feel very similar in power and acceleration.
Both cars offer four solid disk brakes, and while the G35’s feel is better, you will notice that you do not need to apply as much pressure to the heavier CTS when going down steep hills to maintain a certain speed.
In the end, the brakes on the CTS feel stronger while the pedal feel of the G35 wins out.
When it comes to these two, the CTS is the luxury sports sedan while the G35 is the sports luxury sedan. The G35, while still offering a compliant ride, is more eager and willing, holding the car flatter in hard cornering. The CTS offers a softer ride than the G35, while not keeping the car as flat. However, both offer solid performance and very good comfort levels. In the end, it’s just what you would prefer more. Are you looking for a little more performance or a little more comfort in your ride?
Neither of these, with their top-level sound systems, impress me to the level I expected. The CTS offers more base, the G35 offers clearer sound, but neither is anything spectacular. You’re best bet would be to go to Car Toys and upgrade the stock speakers, amp, and toss in a woofer or two if you want more base.
Overall, both cars are outstanding choices. It’s all in what you want.
CTS 3.6: This is more of a cruiser than the G35. With looks that are far more standout, and with being a lower-volume seller than the G35, you will definitely get lots of looks in this outstanding American-interpretation of the luxury sports sedan in the $30K+ category. A very comfortable ride, lots of torque and good power, a heavy ride, and a level above the rest when it comes to styling are clear trade-marks of Cadillac. However, they decided to toss in a sporty suspension as well, and with all the performance tuning that when into this machine, performance is clearly no afterthought in this car. Now, if only we can crack that ECU and have more aftermarket support.
HIGHS: Style, comfort, rare, power, engine, sporty
LOWS: Style, interior, harder to modify, sound system
G35 Sedan: Japanese sports sedan is exactly what this car is. Quick, light on its feet, feature rich, nice interior, ergonomically suited to the driver, and nothing overwhelms in this vehicle. This is easily the choice in this comparison if you’re looking for fun, for performance, and for modifications. While the CTS is definitely a fun car, it’s the cruiser and looker between these two. The G35, on the other hand, is easily modifiable.
HIGHS: Style, performance, engine
LOWS: Style, sound system