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Infiniti to the power of M

M drive: Infiniti’s sedan offering has finally hit the road in Australia as the Nissan-owned brand establishes its presence here.

V8 engines off the agenda globally as Infiniti launches M sedan in Australia

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4 Sep 2012

INFINITI this week launched its mid-size M sedan in Australia with a range of six-cylinder powertrains – including a hybrid model that acts as the performance leader of the range in the absence of a V8-powered variant.

The 5.6-litre V8-engined M56 sold in the United States is not produced in right-hand drive, and company executives told the Australian media last Friday that tougher global fuel economy and emissions regulations rule out V8s for future models.

Nissan’s move to abandon V8s comes as the Australian division revealed the 5.0-litre quad-cam engine that will power the Kelly Brothers Racing’s new Altimas in V8 Supercar racing next year.

Infiniti Global president Johan de Nysschen told local media last week that V8 engines were not part of plans for any future cars on Infiniti drawing boards.

“The 600 horsepower engines that you see today that are regrettably rare – those are the real top performance cars right now – will become extinct,” he said.

However, he said this did not mean the end of performance cars and pointed as an example to the M35h, which sits at the top of Infiniti Australia’s launch range priced from $99,900 (or $110,170 driveaway).

The M35h is powered by a 225kW/350Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that gets assistance from a 50kW/270Nm electric motor – providing a peak power output of 268kW – and consequently outperforms its regular 3.7-litre V6-engined M37 sibling, accelerating from 0-100km/h seven-tenths of a second faster at 5.5 seconds.

Infiniti claims this makes the M35h the fastest-accelerating full hybrid production car in the world, although BMW claims its forthcoming hybrid 3 Series (due here by the end of this year) undercuts the Infiniti with a time of 5.3 seconds.

The M37 that is on sale now as the entry-level model in the M sedan range – which targets cars such as the BMW 5 Series and Lexus GS – is priced in Australia from $85,900 ($95,470 driveaway) while the diesel-engined M30d is priced from $87,900 ($97,569 driveaway).

All these engines meet the latest Euro 5 emissions standards, but Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer said incoming legislative requirements globally, including the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) regulations in the US, would spell the end of big V8s for the company.

“I’m afraid CAFE regulations and emission regulations around the world make the development of V8s as part of a new family of engines almost impossible,” said Mr Palmer.

“But V8 does not determine performance. You can get the performance out of a V6 or an I4 (inline four-cylinder) and you can get the fuel consumption.”

Described as Infiniti’s “halo sedan”, the mid-size M joins the FX crossover range in the company’s Australian launch line-up, which will be expanded at the end of this year by the smaller G Coupe and G Convertible models before the all-new G Sedan arrives at the end of next year or early in 2014.

Like the FX range, the rear-wheel-drive M Sedan gets engines sourced from parent companies Nissan (V6 petrol) and Renault (V6 turbo-diesel), but not the 5.0-litre V8 petrol that is the headline act of the big crossover.

In terms of styling, the M Sedan is similarly distinctive with a look that might be described as polarising but which Infiniti Australia believes will set the brand apart as it establishes itself in the Australian market.

Infiniti Australia general manager Kevin Snell said the M sedan showcases the brand’s technologies such as four-stage drive mode (adjusting throttle, transmission and cornering systems), active noise control (reducing cabin noise), blind-spot intervention, Forest Air (a system that reduces cabin odours), Dynamic Cornering Enhancement, double-piston shock absorbers and a key with memory functions.

“The Infiniti M is a dynamic blend of technology and luxury,” said Mr Snell.

“It is a driver’s car that uses this careful mix to deliver optimised performance to enhance the driving experience.

“The same intelligent approach has been taken with the design of the Infiniti M’s luxurious interior, which provides comfort and technology in an intuitive, completely harmonious way.”

The M37 and M30d are available in two specification levels – GT and S Premium – while the M35h comes only in what is called GT Premium.

Standard equipment includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels (with space-saver alloy spare), ‘self-healing’ paint, adaptive headlights with self-levelling function, double-glazed side windows, tilting side mirrors when reversing, heated exterior mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and a polished aluminium gearknob.

Also standard is a heated leather-bound steering wheel, leather upholstery, two-driver memory (for seat, wheel, mirrors and climate-control), heated and ventilated 10-way powered front seats with lumbar support, automatic soft-close boot, sunroof and sliding shade, eight-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, active noise control, tyre-pressure monitor, active front head restraints, six airbags, front and rear parking sensors and rear camera.

S Premium models additionally get magnesium paddle shifters, sports-tuned suspension, active rear-wheel steering, DCE, 20-inch alloys, upgraded brakes, sports seats, a power rear window shade, 16-speaker Bose sound system, blind-spot intervention, active cruise control, forward collision warning and emergency brake intervention, and a number of interior and exterior enhancements.

The M35h features the rear sunshade, Bose 16-speaker sound and most of the electronic safety systems.

2012 Infiniti M pricing:
ModelRRPDriveaway
M37 GT$85,900$95,470
M37 S Premium$97,900$108,070
M30d GT$87,900$97,569
M30d S Premium$99,900$110,170
M35h GT Premium$99,900$110,170

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