2011 Infiniti M

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Date Posted: November 8, 2010
By Zack Spencer

Infiniti is often overlooked in the mid-sized luxury segment but the M is worth consideration

 The real selling feature of the M isn't the outside but the interior
 With a similar design to the G from Infiniti, this M doesn't have as much curb appeal

The Scoop

Infiniti has carving out a very respectable segment of the luxury marketplace dominated by BMW. Some luxury makers tend to produce soft and insulated vehicles, like Lexus and Mercedes. Others produce luxury vehicles with advanced technology and superior driving dynamics, this is the corner where BMW and Infiniti like to play. For drivers who want to have all the latest technology and aren't content to simply navigate their car, then Infiniti has been hard at work delivering vehicles that compete with BMW and in some cases come very close to surpassing them. The Infiniti G sedan is a good contender for the 3 series and the FX crossover is as much fun to drive as the BMW X6. One car in the Infiniti lineup that has been flying below the radar for too long is the Infiniti M. For 2011 the M has increased power, an array of gadgets and delivers it all at an attractive price.

The Skin

Infiniti has slowly been transforming each new vehicle with a cohesive design and building a family resemblance. The latest full-sized Infiniti Qx56 is a good example of the direction Infiniti is going. With many companies integrating sharp, angular designs, Infiniti has developed a flowing, almost organic quality that is appealing to the eye and should age well. The most prominent design elements are the bulging hood and fender arches that give the car a sense of power and flow. The rear design lacks presence and flair and lets the rest of the design down. Since many mid-sized luxury cars, like the new BMW 5 series have grown in size, the compact dimensions of the M make it attractive for buyers who want something that is manageable to operate, especially in tight city driving.

The Cockpit

A lot of attention goes to brands Like Audi for interior design but I believe that Infiniti produces some of the finest quality interiors in the business. The leather used on the seats is first rate as is the dash materials and attention to fit and finish. With so many car companies including computer interface controllers, like a computer mouse, it is almost refreshing to use the uncluttered dash in the M. Yes, the driver can go as deeply as they choose into the computer settings but they are not required to for simple things like changing the radio or setting the heat. The navigation system is very simple to use, it is one of the best in the market. All of the buttons and driving aids are close at hand; the driver truly feels part of the car. Back seat passengers are treated to a comfortable space but the M isn't as roomy as some in this price range.

The Ride

For 2011 the M receives a bump in power from two engine choices and both can be ordered with RWD or AWD for a small price premium. The sales leader will be the 3.7L V6 with 330hp, which is 30hp more than BMW's 535. The 5.6L V6 produces 420hp, which is 20 more than BMW's 550. Power is nothing if the suspension and transmission aren't up to the task. The good news is that the M can be driven in four unique drive settings including normal, eco, snow and sport. The sport setting makes the M37 a very lively car, getting the most out of the capable engine and 7-speed shift-able automatic transmission. The snow setting will produce less torque for better traction and the eco mode is downright silly. When eco is engaged, there is resistance placed on the accelerator, which actually pushes back on the driver's foot every time the car is driven inefficiently. I tried a run to 100km/h in this setting and it took over a minute. That's no typo!!

Verdict

Does this Infiniti have the goods to no longer remain below the radar? With a long list of standard features like a capable V6 engine, 7-speed automatic and blind spot warning system, lane departure warning and automatic distance control, the Infiniti M is good value. The interior is first rate and Infiniti's unique approach to design makes it stand out in a very cluttered pack. I suspect that very few people will splash out the $66,200 for the V8 when the V6 is so good. The additional $2500 for the advanced AWD system is well worth the expense compared to $64,900 for a 300hp AWD BMW 535. Yes the Infiniti does looks good on paper and it is a major step forward but in this class of sedan, badge appeal is very important and this might be why this car has never fully developed a following. It might just be that a buyer who wants to have a luxury sedan also wants a more prestigious badge on the front. For those that can embrace Infiniti as a high quality maker will be well served with this new M37.

The Good, The Bad

Good:

Starting at $52,400 the M37 is packed with goodies.

Bad:

The eco mode is one of the silliest new features of any new car I have driven lately.

The Lowdown

Power: 330hp V6 or 420hp V8

Fill-up: 11.4L/7.6L/100km (city/highway)

Backup: 4-year/80,000km

Sticker price: $52,400-$73,400

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