There’s no doubt now that when Infiniti launched the previous Infiniti M sedan, they missed the mark.
Even the Infiniti team will tell you that. Likely off the record (no official quotes), but they recognize that the old M didn’t quite live up to their expectations in the market place.
Not that it wasn’t a nice sedan because it was in just about every area you’d want a luxury ride to be. In fact, I raved over the previous M when it launched as a breath of fresh air to the “usual” when it comes to luxury cars.
Trouble is, the old M just didn’t have that “wow” factor to distinguish it in the highly competitive luxury segment to entice buyers to get in.
You recognized it when you saw it, but it was kinda…just there.
There really wasn’t anything about the design that was all that different from everything else on the road in the luxury segment. Well, aside from that Infiniti badge, which if you’re in the market for a luxury sedan might not be enough to steer you away from brands like Mercedes-Benz or Lexus.
SHE’S GOT THE LOOK
Clearly, Infiniti’s learned from its mistakes because the new 2011 M has just about as much of that “wow” factor you can pack in a luxury sedan.
It all starts with a striking new exterior design, which makes it hard not to want to peek inside even if you’re not a fan of Infiniti. The 2011 model features some of the styling cues in the new G37 sedan – just in a much more bolder way than its smaller sibling.
Case in point: The guy who stopped me during my test drive and asked if he could take a picture of the car. “I wanted to send it to my wife,” he said. “She’s looking to buy a new car. This is hot.”
Building on some of the design elements of the previous M with it long, low hood and high rear deck, the new M stands longer, wider and lower than the previous model, which gives it a sportier stance.
Other exterior design elements include distinctive fenders, the signature Infiniti grille and crystal-look headlight clusters, large aluminum-alloy wheels, and the unique trunk design that is as much functional as it is cool to look at in that it works like a spoiler for improved aerodynamics.
Infiniti M37 and M56 models equipped with the optional sport package feature a unique front fascia, dark finish grille, dark headlight housings and 20-inch wheels and tires.
One of my Facebook (FB) friends responded to a photo I posted of the new M that the sedan looks like a “Maxima on steroids.” Probably not exactly how I would describe it, but I definitely get his point when considering how aggressive the styling cues are on the new model.
Infiniti calls it the “gesture” of the brand, which now is a guiding principal when designing Infiniti vehicles.
Inside, the new M builds on the kind of details that have become a benchmark in the luxury segment set by Infiniti (love their interiors) with details like handcrafted wood accents, an instrument panel that features cool electroluminescent gauges, and the classic Infiniti analog clock.
Nothing short of the “future” when it comes to technology, the new M features BSI (Blind Spot Intervention), the world’s first system that helps the driver return the vehicle back toward the center of the lane away from a vehicle in the blind spot area.
Infiniti’s available Premium Bose Audio system has also been enhanced. There’s also a system called Active Noise Control that uses sound to delete sound, to reduce engine noise in the cabinet. A feature called Eco Pedal provides driver feedback to encourage fuel efficient driving behavior.
Standard technology equipment includes Bluetooth, push button start and a rear view monitor.
LOVE THAT V6
There’s probably no clearer indication of the M’s revival, however, than when you press the push button start, shift into drive mode and press the gas.
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that you’re actually in a sedan and not an all-out sports car. Infiniti went to great lengths to improve the M’s performance attributes with everything from a more powerful engine to the rear suspension.
Engine options include a 3.7-liter V6 with 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft. of torque and a 5.6-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 400-lb-ft. of torque that feels like a luxury sedan packed inside a rocket ship when you hit the gas.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on the sedan, but Infiniti’s all-wheel-drive system is available on both models as well.
Truth is, though, after driving both the M37 (V6) and M56 (V8) model, you find that the V6 is more than enough power — unless you’re shooting for bragging rights at the next outing with your boys. The 330 horsepower is a boost of 25 HPs over the previous V6 and will satisfy any weekend urge to break away for some adventure.
It all kinda makes you want to get in now, huh?
Sticker: $46,250 (M37 base)
MPG: 18/26 (V6)
Standard 330 HP V6
Enhanced Bose Audio System
Blind Spot Intervention technology
Marcus Amick is a national automotive writer and analyst with a focus on the automotive lifestyle.