Review: 2012 Infiniti M35h Take Two

Posted on 05. Feb, 2012 by in Auto News

Most luxury cars are trying to do everything pretty well, while taking off could not risk a potential buyer. The typical result is a car with a few memorable qualities, good or bad. Despite a "have your cake and eat it too" powertrain, the Infiniti M35h is not a car. You might not fit all. But you will remember.

To begin with, the Infiniti will not look like everyone else. Although the current automotive fashion favors sheer surfaces, straight lines and sharp creases, the large body of M contains the full curves one from any other plus-sized lingerie catalog. Think Jaguar. With more muscle and less grace, as if to prove that the organic forms not being female The high fender 20s require fill properly, unfortunately the factory Dubs are only conventionally-powered rear-wheel-drive variants. H receives the 18s.

The interior also curvaceous recaptures the traditional charm that abandoned Jaguar with the XF in an attempt to reinvent itself for the new century. Audi could offer stylish interiors, but they are never as warm and intimate. The $ 3,900 Deluxe Touring Package to trim the silver-white ash rubbed tastefully displayed. The brightwork flowing along the door panels and the center console is a joy to look at and follow your finger tip. Another artful touch: The DTP diagonally quilted semi-aniline leather. Materials are about as good as they get in this price range. And despite the clear emphasis on form, function, has not been neglected. The center console controls are very close to the hand, and logically arranged. The large, comfortable seats feel as good as they look. Even for those who are compared to other luxury sedans, the M35h cabin is a very pleasant place to spend time. (From my 50 + press cars, it has a clear since my wife's favorite.)

The Infiniti M driving position is very different from what you find elsewhere. As in the corresponding FX crossover, from the driver's seat, you clearly feel that you piloting a massive vehicle, but not an expansive one. This curvy interior trim space from front to distract. The M body is considerably narrower above than below the beltline. The relatively upright A-pillar touches far inside. As in the Jaguar XJ, but even more so the view forward has overtones of Vintage GT. The rear seat is less of an acquired taste. With plenty of space, a comfortable pillow and placed an open look to the future The trunk-well reduced, the lithium-ion batteries to 14.9 cubes from a competitive to a compact 11.3.

The M35h hybrid powertrain combines a 3.5-liter V6 with an electric motor, for a total of 360 peak horsepower, roughly splitting the difference between the M37 and the M56 V6 V8. But this is not the whole story: in the lower speed range of the hybrid performance is much closer to that of the 417-pound-feet V8 thanks to the electric motor 199 pounds-feet of torque (up on the gas engine 258). Despite the £ 280 added by the hybrid bits, the M35h is the 4129-pound curb weight barely above that of a BMW 535i. Adequate weight + oodles of torque = strong acceleration. Turn the console mounted wheel "power" and the throttle can be overly aggressive, easily overwhelm the rear tires. (Do this when the road is wet. For Snow is "Snow"). In "Eco" the M35h is far from a Prius, you need only press the throttle closer to the ground, to cover the landscape. "Normal" strikes a good balance.

Helpful reading include throttle efficiency and battery status. But, as with most hybrids, there is no indication of the distribution of braking power between the motor / generator and the conventional brakes, so it is unclear how to modulate the left pedal for optimal efficiency. An odd (if available) omission of crucial advantage of a hybrid is its ability energy, draw the otherwise burnt through the brake discs.

Based on the seat of his pants, the gas engine, seven-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor (which takes the place of a torque converter between them) work together seamlessly as a rule. One notable exception: a hesitancy in Eco and (to a lesser extent) Normal mode when you first in a job for a decidedly un-eco put the rate acceleration, as if deciding the powertrain computer can not, what to do. Want to get on the road before they approaching cars arrive? Wait, is the desired pressure on his way. The waiting time may only seem endless. A second gear issue: slow reaction to manual inputs. In manual mode anywhere near WOT you'd best call for a 1,000 rpm shift just before redline. Otherwise, "Hi Rev!"

The ears have a different take on the drive train of the seams. The VQ-series V6 is more polished than in other applications, but still far from silenced. At half throttle and it roars up in a very un-hybrid-style. That would be okay, maybe even welcome, except the noise comes and goes. The electric motor is only capable of driving the vehicle up to 60 miles per hour, and often does. The gas engine has been switched off for the whole length of a two-mile 30 mph road. Very quietly, this capability in the near silence slide. But in the near-highway speeds, the motor cycles often several times per minute. To be a muffled rumble VQ, then silence, then the roar again, again and again. When the engine is going to cycle as often, it has much quieter. Other noise levels are low. Except for some occasional wobbles the ride is that of a luxury sedan, with a feeling of solidity and level of encapsulation, you will not find in a mere Nissan.

And fuel consumption? For a nine-mile journey, where the gas engine was turned off a lot of the way of the onboard computer reported an astounding 39.7 miles per gallon. Then 24 on the way back, despite an equally light right foot. The difference was whether the battery or under. For longer trips, which came this variable the car balanced close to the EPA numbers: 27 in the suburb, 32 on the highway, a significant bump on the M37 18/26 and impressive for a performance-oriented luxury sedan. Even a heavy foot falls, the number only in the low 20s. Apparently, the VQ is not incorrigibly thirsty. Infiniti is about to lose his bragging if: the 338-PS-2013 Lexus GS 450h ekes out 29/34.

Then there's the chassis. The M-trains are as old school as its aesthetics. Charming in some ways much less in others, and affect confidence when it is most needed. The steering is quick, but easily and remotely. The ride feels sporty, but not precise or tied down. A plus: the battery shifts the weight distribution of 54/46 to 51/49, reduced understeer. But plenty of body roll in hard corners and a general feeling of heft (beyond the actual mass of cars) indicate a closer relationship with the FX crossover as the G compact sedan. Worse yet, not well controlled body movements, mainly from back, where the rear end is lagging often a half-step behind the front. And all this is before you. The accelerator into the equation Like other rear wheel drive offshoot of the company's FM platform, the M35h is prone to snap oversteer. Crack full throttle with the steering wheel turned even a few degrees, and the rear end will step out, even way out, nothing progressive about it. Combining dramatic oversteer with quick steering and subpar body control and you have your hands full too. Keep a cool head, not over-correction (very easy to do here), and the rear wheels fall back into step behind the front. The process is simple and much less intuitive to control, as it could and should be. Leave the stability control fully engaged helps, but in a clumsy manner. As in their siblings, the M35h, the system cuts in early and hard. Improved systems use a lot of finesse, that you believe that you are a better driver than you actually are. But despite this dynamic error, perhaps even by some of them, the M35h is fun to drive. It might lack for talent, but it's oh so wants.

The M35h starts $ 6,000 north of M37 at $ 54,595. The must-have fancy wood and upgraded leather (plus nav and Bose 5.1 audio they visit), the tally bump up $ 61,945. Fuel savings could earn back the hybrid premium in the course of a decade earlier, when you go to shoot a lot of stop-and-go miles or gas prices. But also remember that the Hybrid accelerates more like the M56, and the V8-powered car costs about $ 2,000 more. Some people are concerned about the potential long-term costs of hybrids. There are more things that require replacement could potentially back including lithium ion battery. Although it is too early to say in this particular case, the lower tech NiMH battery in the Toyota Prius should be replaced rarely well north of 100,000 miles, based on the True Delta Car Reliability Survey. If Nissan's system is almost as hard (to say too early) its longevity will be no problem. The rest of the car? above average so far.

The Infiniti M35h has its shortcomings, especially when called upon to squeeze through some tight corners. But the car has a unique combination of strong acceleration, 27/32 fuel economy, distinctive exterior and beautiful interior cosseting a certain charm. Want technical perfection? Then get some German. But if you prefer a luxury sedan that ignores conventions that combines countless notable strengths and weaknesses to a whole, that does not work-a should luxurious retro flavor hybrid where oversteer is a concern, but somehow works, then take the M35h for a spin. Unlike the typical hybrid or even too many performance luxury sedans, there is never a dull moment when the car seems to be all the work and you're just for the ride.

Infiniti provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.