The Infiniti M is a large luxury Japanese sedan with a fair dash of sporting prowess. Though aimed at the American market it’s starting to make waves in the sales races in other countries, including Australia.
High-tech features abound in the new Infiniti. Some of these electronic aids are used in other premium European and Japanese cars, but are taken to new levels in the Infiniti. There are a huge number of features within the sub models of the Infiniti M range – GT, GT Premium and S Premium.
Infiniti M is offered in three models, the Infiniti M37 is powered by a 3.7-litre 235 kW V6 petrol engine; Infiniti M30d uses a 175 kilowatt 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel; and the Infiniti M35h petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain has a 3.5-litre 225 kW petrol V6 and a parallel electric motor that can produce up to 50 kilowatts of power.
As is always the way with hybrids, the maximum output isn’t the sum of the two powerplants. In the Infiniti M35h the peak is 268 kW as the petrol and electric motors aren’t both delivering their best output simultaneously.
In the way of all electric motors the Infiniti’s produces big torque at low revs, whereas the petrol engine concentrates on mid and upper levels.
Every Infiniti M model uses a seven-speed automatic transmission and is driven by its rear wheels. The engine is set well back under the bonnet to achieve good front to rear mass balance.
Styling leans in the direction of sports sedan, with a low-slung body, high wheel arches and a distinctive radiator grille. We feel the M’s shape is a bit untidy in places, but there’s no doubt that Infinitis stand out from the automotive crowd and that’s vitally important if you’re aiming to attract attention to a new marque, or rather to a revived marque – Infiniti sold a few cars in Australia in the mid 1990s before disappearing off the radar until mid 2012.
Sound reduction in the cabin not only has the usual strengthening and noise damping items, but also uses active noise cancelling of the type seen in headphones used by travellers. Working in conjunction with Bose, a longtime expert in the field, Infiniti engineers have managed to further reduce interior noise.
A disadvantage of having the engines set well back is that the gearbox intrudes into the cabin, resulting in relatively limited foot width for those in the front seats.
Infiniti drivers who don’t adjust the car’s outside mirrors correctly are looked after by a blind-spot warning system. Infiniti also tries to look after drivers who aren’t paying attention. If they wander from their lane the Infiniti M will apply the brakes on one side of the car to help steer it out of danger.
Other Infiniti safety features include Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Pre-Crash Safety Belts (front seats only). Should you still crash the Infiniti M has dual-stage front airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags on the front seats, and roof-mounted curtain airbags.
Radar cruise control is very simple to engage and seems to read the driver’s mind the moment it’s switched on.
The big Infiniti sports hybrid has immense amounts of torque for climbing hills with ease and overtaking with maximum safety. The engine placement results in excellent handling balance that we really appreciated in the challenging roads on which we reviewed several Infiniti M models.
Ride comfort is generally good, though some harsh Aussie roads did let bumps come through at times. To driving enthusiasts this occasional lack of comfort is probably acceptable; passengers may not agree, so it’s wise to take them on your initial personal road tests.
Steering is precise and nicely weighted and gives the driver the feel that the car is very much working with them.
We have driven several models in the Infiniti M range, including all three power trains, and have come away impressed by their sporting nature.
Price: from $85,900
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel; 3.7-litre V6 petrol; hybrid 3.5- litre V8 petrol plus electric motor
Outputs: 175kW and 550N (M30d); 235kW and 360Nm (M37); 268kW combined (M35h)
Transmission: seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Audi A6 TFSI
Price: from $77,900
Engine: 2.0-litre 4.0-cyl, 132kW/320Nm
Transmission: CVT, FWD
Thirst: 6.4L/100km, CO2 149g/km
Price: from $115,100
Engine: 3.0-litre 6.0-cyl, 225kW/400Nm
Transmission: 8-speed, RWD
Thirst: 8.4L/100km, CO2 195g/km