2011 Infiniti M – Click above for high-res image gallery
Take a look over Infiniti's
current line-up and two vehicles stand out: The M and the QX. Both vehicles have been soldiering on while the brand's volume models (G and FX) have undergone major redesigns, leaving Infiniti's flagship sedan and hulking SUV toiling away unchanged since 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Tonight, that changes.
We'll probably see a mildly tweaked G
in So. Cal. while covering the LA Auto Show
(an updated QX full-size SUV won't appear until later), but the star of the party is the 2011 Infiniti M
. Due to go on sale next spring, the M will be available with two powerplants -- Infiniti's ubiquitous 3.7-liter V6 and a new 5.6-liter V8 -- each available with rear- or all-wheel drive and both packing enough electronic gizmos to make even the most hardened NASA engineer's head spin.
UPDATE: A hybrid version of the M will debut sometime in the middle of 2010. A live image gallery of the M56 has been added below, along with more high-res pics of both the Sport and Touring models. Also, scope out the sexiest door handles you'll see this week here.
Based atop the same FM (front-midship) platform as its predecessor (and a host of other Nissan
and Infiniti models), the 2011 M grows in nearly every dimension, spanning a total of 194.7 inches, with a 114.2-inch wheelbase, and 72.6-inch width, while getting a little taken off the top with a lower (59.1-inches) roofline. The overall aesthetic, both inside and out, is decidedly more attractive and less anonymous than the M it replaces, with a host of strakes, curves and bulges that finally lend some drama to the last gen's drab design.
Tucked away underneath the M's new swelled hood, is a either a 3.7-liter V6 putting out 330 horsepower (at 7,000 rpm) and 270 pound-feet of torque (at 5,200 rpm) or a direct injected 5.6-liter V8 churning out 420 hp (at 6,000 rpm) and 417 lb-ft of twist (at 4,400 rpm) -- a gain of 95 hp and 81 lb-ft over the previous 4.5-liter V8.
Both VVEL-equipped engines send power to either the rear or all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox with Drive Sport manual mode and optional paddle shifters. Opt for the Sport Package (on RWD models) and rev-matched downshifts and four-wheel "active steer" (4WAS) join uprated 14-inch front and 13.8-inch rear brakes, along with bolstered front seats, an ugraded steering wheel, a sports suspension and 20-inch wheels wrapped in P245/40 summer rubber (18-inch wheels with all-season rubber comes standard).
Like every other luxury automaker, Infiniti has packed its newest flagship with a host of new technologies that have either appeared on previous models or are all-new for the 2011 M. A few stand out.
Four driving modes allow the driver to select the most suitable throttle and transmission mapping, with Standard, Sport, Snow and Eco modes, the latter of which will illuminate lights on the dash to inform the driver if they're piloting the M in a conscientious facing, along with a new system -- dubbed the "Eco Pedal" -- that will vibrate the throttle pedal slightly to reinforce the message.
In conjunction with the raft of passive and active safety systems, including Blind Spot Warning, Active Tracing Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Distance Control Assist, Intelligent Brake Assist -- breathe -- and Forward Collision Warning, Infiniti has included a world's first on the M: a "Blind Sport Intervention" (BSI) system. Used in conduction with the Blind Sport Warning programming, the BSI system "helps the driver return the vehicle back toward the center of the lane of travel." Something we're keen to sample in the coming months.
You can read up on all the 2011 M's features in the press release below, and expect live images later tonight.