The 2004 M45 from Infinitiis provoking, reassuring,and comfortable. Think ofInfiniti as the BMW of Japan—theM45 being closer to a 7-Series inperformance and size but closer inprice to the 5-Series. The M45 is anoutstanding value package. Whatmakes the M45 so exceptional is itsunique character.
The bottom line:
While it has substantial runningcomponentry and platform from theQ45, its purpose is different. TheM45 is more sporty and nimble thanthe Q45. The styling demonstrates akeen leadership position and in thenext few years, you'll see other companiescopy its pillar and rooflines.This is a truly internationalsports sedan built for anintellectual individual.
As soon as you open the driver'sdoor, you'll notice the ergonomicgrips and the usual array of controls.The tachometer and speedometerare large, clear, and easy to read.Youand your copilot will enjoy Infiniti'sstate-of-the-art 3-D navigation feature,which is optional. This featurewill encourage your passenger to be abetter copilot.
Upon further inspection, you'llfind that the interior controls are asimpressive as the Bose radio. Infinitiis unique among luxury automakersbecause they offer you a choice ofCD-quality satellite radio. You getto choose between Sirius and XMradio. Both Sirius and XM radiobroadcast over 100 stations, fromnews to great tunes.
There are more features thatmake this family sports sedan anintelligent product. Voice recognitionis available, as are climate-controlledseats that heat and cool.Superior Xenon lighting is standard.There's a switch on the driver'sseat to adjust the height of theheadlights. In addition, the M45has the latest in safety technology,with optional side bags plus a completehead curtain down the side.
If you order the technology package,there is more to your brakingsystem than the intelligent cruisecontrol. The package also includesthe navigation system and a largescreen that will cost you around$2700. Since the M45 is such a goodvalue, you should take advantage ofall the possible goodies, particularlythe navigation system.
The M45's steel unit body is 197inches overall, with a wheelbase ofjust over 110 inches. The wheelbaseis luxurious, yet not so long as to discouragenimble handling. The vehiclefeels much lighter than 2 tons,and driving the rear wheels througha 5-speed automatic transmissionmakes the accelerator pedal thrillingto step on. The 235/45 WR 18-inchtires on chrome wheels match thefront grille for plenty of sizzle.
The M45 is close in size to theAcura RL, yet it's equipped with afast, all-aluminum, double-overheadcam V8 with 340 horses. Anantilock brake system is standardand so is dynamic stability control,which takes over if you take a turntoo fast. The cruise control compensatesfor cars ahead. Even withcruise control off, you'll be signaledthat you're too close—a featurecalled Preview Braking.
To become more acquaintedwith the car, read all the detailsabout the center console, the navigationsystem, and the heating system.Play with all the buttons andget into the Infiniti way of thinking.After you feel the precise actuationof controls and the way the carresponds to driver input, you'llknow this is a driver's car.
Test the M45 against a BMW 7-Series or a Mercedes E500 and thencompare prices. Even with all thefeatures, you likely won't pay morethan $49,000 for the M45. This is aspecial car, which is sold in low volume.So, if you enjoy a smooth ride,responsive shifting, and the abilityto go from 0 to 60 mph in about 6seconds, check out Infiniti's M45.You won't be disappointed.
Ashly Knappis an automotive research consultant
and analyst based out of Seattle,Wash. He welcomes questions or comments at 206-323-1976.