Savor Infiniti's Exceptional M-Series

Physician's Money Digest, March 2006, Volume 13, Issue 3

Over the past few years theInfiniti division from Nissanhas created an outstandingimage and distinctiveplace for itself. Their newest additionis the M-Series. All M's are fourdoorsedans with an overall length of1921/2 inches. The M35 has a 3.5-liter,V6 engine, while the beefier M45 has a4.5-liter V8. The new Infiniti M is builtfrom the FM platform, which has beenused to build the Infiniti G35 sedan,Nissan's high performance Z, andInfiniti's FX line of SUVs. It's a rigidplatform that allows for great designdiversity. FM means front midship,which means the engine is mountedbehind the front axle, thereby distributingweight more evenly. This midenginedesign pays off in predictable,balanced performance. All M's haveindependent suspension with a doublewishbonedesign up front and anattractive multilink system in the rear.Four-wheel steering is also integrated,resulting in increased control, agility,and stability.

Safety and Stability

When it comes to safety, the M hasall the features to make it a safe car inan impact situation. More importantly,it has all the best features to avoid animpact. Standard on all models is stabilitycontrol, side curtain airbags, andfront side airbags. The M also featuresoptional precrash seatbelts. At 121mph on a closed course with professionaldrivers, the brakes were pressedto simulate an emergency stop, and onthe way down we felt the shoulder harnessgrab and pull us back.

Besides the front precrash seatbeltstugging on your shoulder, ensuring youare in the best precrash position, there'sanother feature you'll probably seebecoming popular called lane departurewarning. This contraption actuallyhas a camera that recognizes lanemarkings then calculates the vehicle'spositioning in the lane. If you use yourturn signal to change lanes you don'tget a beep, but if you unintentionallydrift you get a beep when youapproach the edge. This is a greatoption, as it encourages you to be moreattentive to the road, training you to bea better driver. In situations where itbecomes annoying, an off switch ishandy. The lane departure warning systemhas the ability to virtually eliminatecrashes due to inattentiveness. Nissan isto be commended for selling the firstvehicles in North America with thisleading safety feature.

Interior Features

As you reach for the driver's door itunlocks automatically because of thekey fob you are wearing. Step in, putyour foot on the brake, and press thestart button. Should all cars be thisway, with no keys to put in the keyhole?We're caught between wantingthe M35 Sport and the M35 all-wheeldrive. We were surprised by the powerand performance of the 6-cylinderengine, considering the price of fuel.

The interior is pleasant with a spaciousfeel, the dashboard flows awayfrom you in an open style, and manyof the controls allow the front passengerto act as copilot and navigator.This vehicle is loaded with intelligentfeatures with complex controls thatare easy to understand. If you arefamiliar with anyone's navigation system,you will pick up Infiniti's quickly.The driver's position is very comfortable,and if you stand 6 feet ormore, this may be the car that givesyou the head and leg room you need.Prices for the M35 start at around$41,000, while the M45 retailsaround $47,500.

Jean Swenson and Ashly Knapp are independent research

reporters and the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.