Strengths and weaknesses:
- quiet ride
- maybe too much technology
- touchy throttle in M56
Infiniti halo sedan is M-m good
I miss the Infiniti Q45.
However, I’m missing it a lot less with the new generation of the M sedan.
Available in rear and all wheel drive, with V6 and V8 motivation, the smaller M’s larger interior pretty much spelled the end of the line for the Q when the former was redesigned in 2006.
Originally, the M was a coupe and convertible alongside the Q when Infiniti was created in 1990. The M sedan of 2003 was powered by the Q’s 4.5-litre V8 as a bridge between the G and Q lines.
The latest generation ups the motivation (and consequently the trim designations) to the latest generation of the VQ V6 and the V8 from the Infiniti QX56 full-sized SUV. The 3.7L V6 makes 330 hp in the M37 (same as in the G37, and slightly better than the way it’s tuned in the FX37 and Nissan 370Z), while the M56’s 5.6L V8’s 420 hp is better than the QX56’s 400. Both M engines are linked to seven-speed automatics with sequential shift (and steering wheel shift paddles in “S” rear wheel drive versions). Four-wheel steering, upgraded suspension and 20-inch tires are included in “S” trims.
Both engines make the large sedan a much faster creature, while also soothing Nissan’s environmental conscience with improvements in fuel economy (to the point that Ontario’s Gas Guzzler Tax has been reduced from $1,200 to the $75 to which every car is subjected). The improvements in power and economy are attributable to variable valve timing and continuous lift control.
The new M also allows the driver to select between four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Eco and Snow – with the computer fulfilling the requests with changes in the throttle and transmission maps. In Eco mode, there is some throttle pedal feedback during acceleration, especially when engine rpm reach that DMZ between leisurely acceleration and power pick up.
On the handling front, an Active Tracing Control system aids cornering by adjusting engine torque and brake force at the wheels. An adaptive suspension controls shock damping in relation to input frequency from the road surface.
And that’s not the extent of the technology upgrades to the new generation M. In addition to adaptive cruise control and collision prevention, there is also lane departure warning (where a beep-beep-beep tells you you’re straying over the lane markers) and blind spot warning (using a mirror-housing light to warn the driver of obstacles beside the car, potentially hidden from the driver’s sight). If either of those alerts doesn’t result in corrective action, the Vehicle Dynamics Control system uses the antilock brake system on the side opposite the breach to “drag” the vehicle back into the lane of travel (though steering input will override the system).
And technology also permeates the interior with active noise control to cancel out engine noise and a “forest air” system that filters out unpleasant odours and organic compounds, and also occasionally wafts a breeze through the cabin. A premium Bose Surround Sound system is also available
Meanwhile the interior itself is presented in upscale materials and arrayed in such a way to make usability as straightforward and easy as possible. Infiniti split the interior design into three zones – the sight information area along the base of the windshield and up, the operation area along the dash and centre console, and the easy access area along the seats and their respective controls.
It all adds up to a premium sedan Nissan refers to as Infiniti’s Halo car, and it makes me feel a little less sad about the absence of the Q ... especially since there are rumours of its return in an M-adapted car in the near future.