2012 M35h New Car Test Drive
The 2012 Infiniti M line of luxury sports sedans with rear-wheel drive enters its second year of production, the sweet spot according to some. The Infiniti M37 and Infiniti M56 were completely redesigned for 2011, so they carry over to the 2012 model year mostly unchanged.
However, a new Infiniti M Hybrid has joined the lineup for 2012. The 2012 Infiniti M35h uses a hybrid gas-electric powertrain that pairs an electric motor with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 360 net horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 2012 M35h holds the Guinness World Record for the world's fastest-accelerating hybrid. Yet the Infiniti M Hybrid gets an EPA estimated 27/32 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined.
The Infiniti M37 makes a class-leading 330 horsepower from its 3.7-liter V6 engine, while the 5.6-liter V8 in the Infiniti M56 is good for 420 hp and 417 foot-pounds of torque.
The M37 and M56 come with a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All Infiniti M models use a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift override, which yields satisfying acceleration in the lower gears, and four driving modes including Normal, Sport, Economy and Snow. Infiniti M models with the Sport package get magnesium paddle shifters with blip-throttle downshifting.
The Infiniti M comes loaded with active and passive safety features include a lane-departure warning system that alerts a driver who veers toward a dividing line, and a blind spot warning system that, when ignored, will apply the right front brake to guide the car back into the lane in which it belongs. There's Active Trace Control, which adjusts engine torque and the control of the braking to individual wheels to help the car get around a corner in a skid. There's an Eco Pedal that gives the driver feedback to encourage eco-driving behavior. And there's the Forest Air system, which helps reduce the intrusion of unpleasant odors into the cabin and provides a natural breeze-like airflow. Infiniti designed this as a true luxury car and, based on our experience, there is nothing luxurious about unpleasant odors in the cabin. We know this, we are automotive experts.
Active noise control is used to quiet the cabin, a dual microphone system that listens to the ambient noise created by the powertrain, the mirrors, the body, and the tires and produces sound waves that cancel those noises. It doesn't cancel out voices, however, so if you shout you will be heard by the other passengers. But this is indeed a quiet car, even at full-throttle while going a hundred miles per hour it's quiet inside.
For audio enjoyment, there are three different sound systems on the M cars, including two Bose upgrades. The Premium Package includes a two-channel, 10-speaker sound system by Bose, the Deluxe Touring Package adds a 5.1 surround sound system with a subwoofer and 16 speakers arrayed throughout the interior.
Competitors to the 2012 Infiniti M line include the Lexus GS, Acura RL, Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and BMW 5 Series.
The 2012 Infiniti M lineup includes the V6-powered, rear-wheel drive M37 ($47,700), the all-wheel-drive M37X ($49,850), the V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive M56 ($59,200), all-wheel drive M56X ($61,700), and the new hybrid-powered M35h ($53,700).
The Infiniti M37 comes with leather upholstery, heated eight-way power front seats with driver memory function, power lumbar support, power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio capability, single CD player, iPod connector and auxiliary jack, bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof, fog lights, power-folding heated mirrors, automatic wipers, rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Sport package ($3,750) includes 20-inch wheels, a unique front fascia, summer tires, sport-tuned suspension and brakes, four-wheel active steering, sport seats and steering wheel, and distinct exterior trim. The Sport Touring package ($2,000) adds a power rear sunshade, air filtration system and 16-speaker Bose surround sound system.
The Infiniti M56 includes everything on the M37 plus heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic and weather updates, as well as an upgraded, 10-speaker Bose audio system with digital music storage. The M56 Sport package ($5,650) includes 20-inch wheels, unique front fascia, summer tires, sport-tuned suspension and brakes, four-wheel active steering, sport seats and steering wheel, distinct exterior trim, power rear sunshade, air filtration system and 16-speaker Bose surround sound system.
Hybrid M35h models come with all standard features found on the M37 plus unique display screens. It also comes with Infiniti's Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP), which generates sound to alert passersby (to compensate for the car's quietness).
Options include a Premium package ($3,450) that adds a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic and weather, as well as a 10-speaker Bose audio system with streaming Bluetooth audio and digital music storage. The Deluxe Touring package ($3,900) adds a power rear sunshade, an in-car air purifier, upgraded leather upholstery and interior trim, and a 16-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo. A Technology package ($3,050) includes adaptive headlamps, an Eco pedal that provides driver feedback to encourage fuel-efficient driving, a blind spot warning system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning system. Standalone options include 18-inch alloy wheels ($650), a rear decklid spoiler ($450), midnight black grille ($430) and an aerodynamic kit ($2,000).
Safety features that come standard on all models include dual-stage front air bags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, side-impact air bags, and roof-mounted curtain air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection. Active safety features on all models include anti-lock brakes (ABS), and electronic stability control.