Car reviews - Infiniti - M - M37 GT
Comfort, performance, handling, roadholding, interior, ride, value, features, quality
Room for improvement
Anonymous styling, numb steering, foot-operated park brake, rear vision, no digital speedo
6 Feb 2013
Price and equipment
INFINITI has boldly gate-crashed the luxury sports sedan party – a notoriously difficult segment to succeed in since it is dominated by the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class –with chutzpah in one hand and a value grenade in the other.
To match the base M37 GT’s spec levels, the Germans cost tens of thousands of dollars more, and we’re not only just talking about equipment levels.
The Infiniti’s $85,900 asking price includes a sunroof, heated and vented front seats with a multitude of electronic adjustment, a heated steering wheel, navigation, bi-Xenon headlights, and a steering column that moves up and out of the way.
But, perhaps even more importantly, beneath its bulbous bonnet beats six-cylinder performance and refinement, giving the Germans a big V in more ways than one.
It’s enough to make you forgive the M37’s soulless name and Hyundai Grandeur-esque appearance.
THE M37 looks and feels suitably opulent inside, with sumptuous seating and excellent quality control. It had us checking whether we were given a higher-spec M37 by mistake.
It is also a cabin of character, dominated by an unusual horizontal centre console ‘shelf’. It may not be to everybody’s taste, but ergonomically everything works well enough.
The touchscreen sat-nav and Bluetooth phone/audio interfaces are first class in their application and function while the double-stitched leather on the doors and seats contrast nicely to the brown glossy wood-like trim that looks better than it sounds.
And the instrument dials – as large as serving plates – are just superb.
Most of all, though, we like the way the voluptuous bonnet and mudguard bulges are mirrored in the instrument binnacle hood.
Overall interior space is fine for a mid-sized rear-drive sports sedan, with the rear occupants sitting higher than those up front, theatre-style, on backrests angled for sinking into.
However, there’s not much joy in sitting in the middle, unless you come with a baby capsule, and the long and shallow boot is oddly shaped because of the big wheelarches and there are no folding backrests, just a lockable ski-port.
Rear vision is appalling, though at least the standard reversing camera comes with a large centre touchscreen.
Also, a big digital speedo would come in handy, the glovebox could be more voluminous, and why do some luxury brands persist with foot-operated park brakes?
All in all, though, this is an alluring interior, especially for an entry-level model.
Engine and transmission
NISSAN’S captivating VQ37 V6 engine – pumping out 235kW of power and 360Nm of torque – is right at home in the M37.
It oozes sweet, lazy torque, for terrifically elastic throttle response combined with the engine’s famously mellifluous exhaust note.
Unlike the shrieking turbo four-pot Euros the Infiniti competes with, off-the-line lag is virtually non-existent even a slight flexing of the right ankle will have the GT accelerating with vigour.
But don’t lose yourself in all that creamy, revvy revelry because prolonged pedal prodding will push fuel consumption up well beyond the 10.7L/100km average we recorded.
We liked the seven-speed torque-converter auto as it quickly and intelligently rifled through its ratios, with downshifts always at the ready and clever algorithmic software that learns driver behaviour for slicker responses.
There’s also a device that matches revs to downshifts should you feel like being a boy racer.
The only fly in the ointment with the auto is a gluggy feel with the gear lever in sequential manual mode, so best keep it in auto for smoothest results.
While the base M37 is biased towards comfort rather than all-out dynamics, there is a Sport button that modifies the Infiniti’s throttle and gearbox software.
When selected, the GT’s performance takes on a more intent edge, helped out by a transmission that holds on to the lower gears for a little longer – though that gets a bit tiring around town due to the higher revs.
Ride and handling
IF YOU are after an agile sports sedan, you would be better off buying a Jaguar XF or BMW instead (but make sure you tick the adaptive damper options box in the latter).
Yes, the M37 is an accomplished and composed handler, aided by a balanced chassis featuring the engine behind the front axle, double-wishbone front suspension, and an advanced multi-link arrangement in the rear.
Seek out a set of swervy corners and it will go precisely where pointed, sticking to the road without losing traction or breaking away from your chosen line. The overly cautious stability control keeps a lid on everything.
But copious levels of body control combined with reactive steering and a very strong set of brakes do not a sports sedan make.
There just isn’t sufficient feedback or tactility to inform the driver of what’s going on below. The wheel may as well be a joystick. You get the feeling the Infiniti would rather do all the driving itself.
Yet when you’re just schlepping around town in the Standard drive mode setting, the GT cocoons all in its comfort and refinement, shutting out the big bad world with an exceptionally supple ride (on standard 18-inch wheels) so the occupants inside can feel safe, secure and not at all stirred.
Lexus ought to be worried.
Safety and servicing
THE M73 falls under Infiniti’s warranty period of four years or 100,000 kilometres and includes 24-hour roadside assistance, even if the Infiniti owner is driving a non-Infiniti car.
It is a five-star ENCAP performer, but has yet to be rated by ANCAP in Australia.
FAR from being the dull plodder we thought it would be, the base M37 easily exceeded expectations.
It looks expensive, is beautifully made, has features galore and packs the sort of premium driveline muscle that no Euro rival can match for the price.
Too bad, then, that this isn’t a more involving, invigorating or visually intriguing driver’s car.
Yet the M37 also possesses more than a modicum of personality and charm, and this ought to give it a great head start in the sub-$100K luxury sedan segment.
If you can get your head around it, the M37 will not disappoint.
1. Audi A6 2.8 FSI quattro: From $91,000 plus on-roads The A6 sweet spot thanks to AWD balance, a gutsy ‘atmo’ V6, and exquisitely designed interior, this value-packed Audi remains underrated.
2. BMW 528i: From $98,200 plus on-roads This four-cylinder turbo Bavarian sedan mixes athleticism with luxury in a spacious and comfy interior, but needs expensive options to be at its best.
3. Mercedes-Benz E250: From $94,500 plus on-roads Big, strong and sensible, the current E-Class is a return to form for Mercedes, but its engine and cabin do not feel almost $100K worth. A facelift is due soon.
Make and model: Infiniti M37 GT
Engine type: 3.7-litre V6 petrol
Power: 235kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 5200rpm
Transmission: 7-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 10.2L/100km
CO2 rating: 235g/km
Dimensions: 4945mm long/2061mm wide/1500mm high/2900mm wheelbase
Suspension: double-wishbone front/multi-link rear
Steering: electric rack-and-pinion
Price: From $85,900
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