Offering athleticism, refinement and style, Infiniti M35 is a solid contender in the midsize luxury sedan segment.
Being the common middle offering of Nissan’s Infiniti brand, the original 1990 M30 featured a 162 hp 3.0L V6 shared, along with its rear wheel drive platform, with the 1987 Japanese Nissan Leopard. A convertible was added for 1991, and the M30 was replaced after 1992 by the more interesting Infiniti J30. Infiniti bailed out of the sports car business until the release of the Infiniti G35 coupe in 2003.
With styling similar to the Gloria, the 2003 M45 was based on the Y34-series Nissan Gloria/Nissan Cedric. Its engine is Nissan’s 340 hp VK45Dev8 that produces 333 lb. ft. of torque. The rather Japanese squared-off styling did not make much of a splash on the US market, and the M45 sold poorly.
To compete directly in the midsize sport luxury class, against such class stalwarts as the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Infiniti released a completely redesigned M for the 2006 model year. It uses a much more rigid version of the G35/35OZ/FX Nissan FM platform and is available with the common VQ-series 280 hp 3.5L V6 in the M35, or the Q45’s 335 hp 4.5L V8 in the M45.
The M was awarded by the automotive press with several best-in-class awards in direct comparisons against its competitors. Despite entering a very crowded, competitive segment in which almost every member has been recently redesigned, the M still has managed to find many key distinctions: both the M35 and M45 are fastest in their class (0-60 in 6.3 and 5.4 seconds, respectively).
As it is near or at the top of every interior dimensions, the M brakes into the EPA “large” category depending on which option packages are selected. In fact, while being smaller on the outside than the flagship Q45, the M45 boasts more room, greater performance, a superior multilink front suspensions and much friendlier ergonomics, threatening the position of the flagship Q45.
All-wheel-drive models are called the M35x and use a sports car derived system (ATTESA-ETS) to send all the power to the rear wheels until slip is detected.
With both a V8 and a V6, the M line now follows sports sedan quo. Infiniti’s M35 and M45 are the newest rivals to high-end German sport sedans that have traditionally dominated the now-crowded midsize luxury segment.
With the new M, Infiniti has come close to match the Bavarian road-brawler’s strengths at a base price that undercuts the substantially less powerful 530i by $5,000. The previous Infiniti M was an entirely different car that didn’t sell well in the U.S.
The M35 is definitely a high-performance car. Its tow fewer cylinders, 100 fewer pounds of weight and two miles-per-gallon better fuel economy should appeal to those who veer toward finesse.
The M35 sedan is offered in two trim levels, Base and Sport. Both of them are furnished with leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat with memory, one-touch up-and-down power windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors and wood trim. The Sport includes rear active steering, sport suspension, upgraded wheels, adaptive HID headlamps, aluminum interior trim and climate controlled sport seats. Options include a DVD-based navigation system, laser-based intelligent cruise control and voice recognition technology. Among other extras are a lane departure warning system and a 14-speaker Bose Studio Surround sound system with digital 5.1 channel decoding.
An optional rearview monitor is really useful. A tiny video camera in the trunk lid captures a rearview image that is displayed on the dashboard screen. This option is offered by other manufacturers, but the M’s also includes on-screen borderlines that grow, shrink and shift as you turn the steering wheel while backing up – green for denote the safe areas, yellow to be careful and red for don’t go there.
Very tall and short drivers are likely to find a comfortable position behind the wheel and pedals, as the steering wheel has a particularly broad range of forward/aft/tilt adjustment. The backseat leg room is ample, even if the left front seat is positioned for a 5-foot-11 driver. A large optional DVD-player screen enlivens the rear seats. Unfortunately, it can’t be turned to favor left or right, as it faces the rear seat.
The laser-guided Intelligent Cruise Control, which detects traffic ahead, is useful because it is aggressive enough to even counter sudden traffic backups, able to brake earlier and harder than some drivers who don’t see how slowly backed-up cars are moving. The ICC takes down the M35 to about 15 mph before disengaging the cruise control. It also accelerates strongly as long as the car in front of you goes faster than you.
The M35 features a 3.5-liter V6 cranking out 280 horsepower and 270 lb.ft. of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission with automanual capability and downshift rev matching is standard.
Safety and Security
The M35 is equipped with a full set of disc brakes plus an ABS and the luxury car fare – EBD and BA. Also, it has the standard Infiniti’s VDC stability control system. Besides, all M35 models feature front-seat, side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags, as well as active head restraints for the front seats. The driver is alerted by an available lane departure warning system.
Unlike the athletic V8-equipped M45, the M35’s V6 offers, however, plenty of punch for most drivers. A firmly tuned suspension gives excellent balance in the corners and the braking performance is impressive.
Infiniti M35’s Competitors
Between Cadillac STS and Infiniti M35 there isn’t much of a difference. The STS has a more massive engine, but we all know that larger engines use more gasoline than smaller ones. The Cadillac STS cost roughly as much as the Infiniti M35.
The Infiniti and BMW 5-series can accommodate the same number of passengers. The M35 is a bit more ponderous and costs a little bit less than BMW 5-series. The 5-series’s engine is markedly smaller than the M35. The Infiniti M35 provides more head-and leg-room to your passenger than the 5-series does.
Of Infiniti M35 and Lincoln Town Car, Infiniti has a smaller engine and it isn’t much less costly than the Lincoln. As in comfort, there isn’t much of a difference.