Sportier version is a provocative thought. But with a CVT? Here's what I have to report:
The driving of the JX35 is made sedate & slumber-like. Passengers such as my wife, kids & close friends really like it. My wife even commented that it feels much smoother than a Lincoln Town Car, and also feels like she's seated in the business class of a large Boeing 747. I, the driver, on the other hand, grimace within. But when the wife is happy, many happy things also follow. So I drive it like the best Lincoln town car can be, and keep comments to myself and to this blog. There's still a pleasure you get when your love ones feel happy at your indirect driving experience expense.
Drivers from other performance oriented Infiniti models would very much notice the CVT's slushbox feel. I admit I have to get used to the RPM flare we get from the CVT. At first, it is annoying with the sound & feel behaving like a troubled failing auto transmission. I feel stressed in the beginning. But it gets being used to. I just keep telling my mind the logic behind the CVT. Turning the dial to sport mode from standard fools you a bit. But don't be mistaken, it's a software program & the CVT is still there & has not disappeared. I don't like the ECO mode, the accelerator pedal just feel harder.
For practice purposes, I turn on the arcade mode in Sony playsation GT5, and take the Tesla Electric car for some laps. That is the most similar feel you'll ever have with the JX35 & any simulation.
The JX35 AWD is a very nice luxury CUV. The interior is stunning, design overall is superb. But it's like a large golf cart in driving. (Even the golf cart can kick more initial torque feel). There's a lot of "foot driving". My right foot has never been so confused in its life. But it's a new system, and I have gotten it to a tee after some runs. Think like the throttle of a boat.
Sure, you can engage the "manual mode". But it feels funny with "1" driving all the way to 45 mph, and "2" up to 60. Suddenly, it's now decided to be a motorcycle.
One advantage of the CVT is a "controversial accelaration". Sure, many in this forum feels the accelaration from full stop to be not thrilling at all. However, pass after 10-15 mph, just keep on that right pedal, you'll out-accelarate a lot of similar cars, vans & trucks. I swear this to be true. The acceleration line is so smooth, you almost don't know it. The absence of the shift shock tells you somehow you're slow. However, I implore you to look at the speedometer. At 4,500-5000 rpm for 6-7 seconds, you think you're engine is dying - but the result is that the pack from the stoplight is in your rear-view mirror. I tell you it's a paradoxical experience. I have never driven with one of my eyeballs glued to the speedometer like this. That is the only way I can know what this vehicle is doing. Cues, that we are so used & taken for granted to, have been changed.
Call me old school... I have somehow already lamented & embraced the eventual death of the manual clutch-driven transmission in the near future with paddle shifting & dual clutch set-up. The next evolution to stab this would be the eventual proliferation of CVT. If you can't beat them, join them. Learn them now before it's too late! Racing F1 cars with CVT. Now that's something I need to see before I get to be an old grandpa.
I do owe my JX35 some gratitude. It made me drive/ride more solo time with my G37 & Yamaha FZ6 as I now cherish their drivetrain transmission. With the JX35, I just imagine I am piloting an airplane. Now the only missing thing is a Breitling on my left wrist.