Infiniti M56

By Jim MacPherson

Premium luxury sedan buyers often overlook the Infiniti M sedans.  Based on the week I spent with the 2012 Infiniti M56, that’s a mistake. This luxury sedan is one of the best available.

Last year, Infiniti gave its M sedans a major update. For 2012, Infiniti has added the M35h, a gasoline/electric hybrid model. Returning with few changes are the V-6 powered M37 and the M56, with its V-8 engine, which Infiniti loaned us for review.

“The new design is sleeker looking, classy and sporty,” said Anthony Andeen, Internet sales manager for Harte Infiniti in Hartford. “They’ve been flying out of here.”

All M sedans come with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard across the board, but M37 and M56 buyers can opt for all-wheel drive.

Infiniti also offers a sport package with 20-inch summer tires, sport suspension and brakes and four-wheel active steering on rear-wheel drive, non-hybrid models. Our review car had neither all-wheel drive nor sport package, which didn’t present any problems.

The 5.6-liter V-8 engine delivers a world-class performance. It is silent except on full throttle acceleration, at which times it emits a sporting snarl. Rapid acceleration is the rule whenever the driver applies force to the accelerator pedal. In our testing, 60 miles per hour arrived in less than six seconds, which makes this sedan a luxury performance car of the first order.

The transmission shifts smoothly and promptly on acceleration. It can dawdle a bit when the driver would appreciate a downshift for midrange acceleration, but this borders on nitpicking. Infiniti does include a transmission sport setting that holds lower gears longer and seemed to make the transmission kick down faster.

Fuel economy, considering this car’s prodigious power and size, is impressive. We averaged 20.8 miles on each gallon of premium.

The ride is firm enough to be busy over some of greater Hartford’s worst roads, but it never turned harsh. Control is excellent over bigger bumps, which enhances passenger comfort.  The body is solid and tight. No part emitted so much as a mild creak no matter how rough the road. Handling gets top marks, too, with good steering feel, minimal lean in corners and confidence-inspiring braking.

Andeen noted that the Infiniti M’s mid-ship engine position, behind the front axle, helps make it what he called “the best handler” in its class. Also aiding handling, he said, is that even all-wheel drive models deliver power to the rear wheels until there is slippage. Only then do the front wheels assist. All-wheel drive is popular. “This is New England,” Andeen said.

Passenger accommodations in front are very good. Taller drivers may find that their right knee inevitably comes to rest on the center console. This was thought by most people to be quite comfortable.

Compared to many competitors, the driver faces a straight forward set of controls. Even for secondary functions, Infiniti has chosen relative simplicity over excessively complicated drill-down, computer menu style operations.

Infiniti’s M has squarely hit the sweet spot for midsize premium luxury sedans. It drives beautifully, has ample power and is supremely comfortable.

 

 

Infiniti M37: $47,700 The new M35h starts at $53,700 and the M56 is $59,100.

 

Engines:               3.7-liter V-6        3.5-liter V-6Gas/Electric Hybrid                      5.6-liter V-8

HP                          330                               360                                                420

Torque lb-ft              270                               417                                                457

EPA                        18/26                             27/32                                            16/25                                                                                                  

EPA AWD                  17/24                          Not Available                                     16/23                                                                                

 

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