The Infiniti M35 and the more powerful M45 challenge the luxury cars from Europe. The Infiniti M models successfully blend aggression and sophistication for stylish visual flair. Their rosewood-trimmed interiors are luxurious, with comfortable seats and a full array of standard safety equipment. All the requisite luxury accoutrements are there, including keyless push-button starting. More significantly, the M35 and M45 deliver the kind of performance and handling that keep German engineers awake at night.
For 2008, the Infiniti M series received significant styling revisions, and Sport versions now boast a look all their own. Both M35 and M45 are now available with Infiniti's intelligent ATTESA ET-S all-wheel drive. A new Lane Departure Prevention option on 2008 models not only warns the driver if the M is leaving its lane, but selectively applies the brakes to straighten the car's course.
New for 2008 are revised electroluminescent instruments with white lighting and violent accents, standard XM Satellite Radio, and an upgraded (optional) touch-screen navigation system with a 9.3GB hard drive for digital music storage and playback. XM real-time traffic reporting is also available.
The M35 can be rewarding to drive. Its V6 engine is one of the most powerful you can buy. Enthusiast drivers will particularly like Sport Package, which features a firmer suspension and active rear steering. The V8-powered M45 delivers even stronger acceleration; and is also available with the Sport package.
Sedans in the $50,000 range comprise one of the most competitive chunks of the new car market, one loaded with such outstanding machines as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac STS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, Acura RL, and the new Jaguar XF. The Infiniti M leans toward the sportier end of this spectrum, particularly in Sport trim. We strongly recommend a look at the Infiniti M35 or M45 for anyone shopping for a car in this class.
The 2008 Infiniti M comes in M35 V6 and M45 V8 models, each with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive. All M-series models are equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission.
The rear-drive Infiniti M35 ($43,050) and all-wheel-drive M35x ($44,800) are powered by a 275-horsepower V6 engine. The rear-drive M45 ($49,350) and all-wheel-drive M45x ($51,850) are identical to their M35 counterparts, but powered by a 325-hp V8.
Leather seats with heating and ventilation come standard on all models, and the driver's seats offers 10-way power adjustment. Also standard are real rosewood trim, a 160-watt six-speaker AM/FM stereo with 6CD changer, power sunroof, Bluetooth cell phone interface, voice activation of many controls, and a seven-inch LCD screen that displays most vehicle information. Standard wheels are 18-inch cast alloys with a finish called Titanium.
Rear-wheel-drive models are available with the Sport Package ($1,650), which adds a firmer suspension, Rear Active Steer, 19-inch alloy wheels, aluminum interior trim, and sport seats with more aggressive bolsters and premium stitching. Sport Package models are distinguished by their own front fascia and other exterior cues. The rosewood trim ($600) is available in place of aluminum on the Sport versions.
Option packages build in layers. The Technology Package ($3,350) consists of eight-speaker Bose audio with iPod interface and 9.3GB Music Box hard drive, DVD navigation with an eight-inch screen and RearView monitor, and additional voice recognition features. Technology Package buyers may add the Advanced Technology Package ($2,800), which comprises Intelligent Cruise Control with Preview Braking; the Lane Departure Prevention system; Bose 14-speaker, 5.1 channel surround-sound; a DVD-video/DVD-audio drive; and auxiliary audio-video inputs.
The Premium Package ($9,650) bundles everything in the Technology and Advanced Technology Packages with a DVD entertainment system, heated and power reclining rear seats, and separate rear-seat climate controls (with driver lockout). Packages can be mixed and matched according to buyer preferences.
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags, front-passenger side-impact airbags, and curtain-style head-protection airbags for all outboard seats. All Infiniti M models feature Vehicle Dynamic Control skid-management electronics, traction control, and an advanced ABS system. Optional safety equipment includes the lane departure warning system, RearView monitor, preview braking and pre-crash seat belts. In front-offset and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the M35/45 got Good ratings, on a scale that comprises Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor.