The new Infiniti M is one sexy, sultry machine. It looks tight, taut, and ready to pounce. It really makes a strong design statement, which is exactly what Infiniti should be doing. The interior is especially enticing, with an ambience that is at once ultramodern yet traditionally posh. I dare say that Infiniti and Jaguar are now leading the way in cabin design, a mantle once held by Audi. Or, at least, they are the equal of Audi.
I didn’t care for the active steering in our test M37 at all. Very artificial in feel, utterly lacking in linear response. A weak point in an otherwise very strong dynamic profile.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
As Joe DeMatio states, the Infiniti M exudes refinement and style both inside and out. From almost any angle, the exterior styling is absolutely striking, and the cabin is both luxurious and supremely functional. The 330-hp V-6 is powerful enough to rocket the M37 forward at a pace sufficient enough to make you wonder whether the V-8 engine is worth the extra expense.
I’m not a fan of the optional lane-departure warning system in this test car. It made me increasingly conscious of the necessity of staying in the exact center of my lane, and it actually ends up taking some of your attention away from the surrounding traffic and road signs as you attempt to keep the chime silent.
Also, the sport brakes on this car were a little too touchy for casual driving. The lightest of brake pressure on the interstate caused to car to slow abruptly.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
I was positively blown away by the M37. Even the active steering, which normally frustrates me to no end, was acceptable. I’d still prefer traditional steering if I were to own an M, but this is the least offensive application of Infiniti’s system I’ve experienced.
Like Mr. DeMatio, I found the interior to be superb. Everything looks very luxurious and there are tactile delights on the seats, dashboard, and even the mundane items like audio controls. I particularly appreciated the logical grouping of buttons for the stereo, HVAC system, and other controls. The lack of new age inputs (one joystick doesn’t need to control everything in a cabin) allows drivers to focus on driving and use muscle memory to quickly adjust the temperature or audio settings.
Perhaps there’s still an argument for choosing a 5-series over the M37 because the VQ engine is aging and certainly isn’t the most refined six-cylinder around, but the 7-speed automatic is a delight and the car’s design is beautiful in a modern Japanese way. I dare say I’d rather have an M37 for a Four Seasons test vehicle than our new BMW 535i.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer
After spending about an hour taking back-to-back turns between our 535i and this M37, I have to agree with Phil. The BMW may still be the better car in technical terms — the powertrain is smoother and the non-active steering is more communicative and predictable — but the M37 is the sedan I think I’d rather own. The Infiniti’s curvaceous yet restrained exterior should prove to BMW’s design house that there is a happy medium between the uncompromisingly modern Chris Bangle styling of the last 5-series and the sober, ho-hum lines of the current one. It’s the same story inside, where Infiniti matches BMW’s quality but adds a dose of “wow” with its rich-looking wood inlays and dual-cove instrument cluster.
There are still a few areas for improvement. The active steering will never feel natural and is an option to avoid. The VQ engine, though tamed somewhat in its pairing with an excellent 7-speed automatic, can’t match the refinement of BMW’s inline-six. That said, the M37 is a pleasure to hustle through a corner. Great brakes, loads of traction, and more muscle than any sedan driver will ever need. Yes, the M37 would get my vote.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I’ve seen press photos of the M time and time again, but I was absolutely floored when I approached this M37S in the parking garage the other night. Admittedly, I thought there was a technological glitch; my key fob kept flashing the lights on what I swore (from a distance) was a Jaguar XF. An odd mistake, perhaps, but the two are similar — swoopy, midsize luxury sedans that help redefine each brand.
Admittedly, I’ll give the nod to the M37S. Both interior and exterior design teams have hit the ball out of the park; the cabin fits and feels as good as it looks. I was just as enthralled with how the car drove-sure, the VQ is aging without grace, but it’s more than happy to dish out considerable power, and the seven-speed automatic is impeccably smooth. Concerned about fuel economy? The econ mode does a great job with not only providing the accelerator pedal with weighted resistance, but it also dramatically changes the transmission’s behavior — I rarely saw the tachometer sweep above 3300 rpm while accelerating up to 45 mph.
I will side with Joe — the adaptive steering rack can feel vague and non-linear. Apart from that, I have no complaints. If you’re in the market for either a 5-series or an XF, take a good hard look at the M; chances are you’ll be as impressed as I was.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Having driven both eight- and six-cylinder versions of Infiniti’s biggest sedan, it’s clear that the M37 makes virtually no compromises compared to the 420-hp M56. Perhaps the only need to step up to the V-8 is the six-cylinders slightly unpolished power delivery. The 330-hp V-6 isn’t as silky as or as torquey as the turbocharged BMW inline six-cylinder. Still, the 3.7-liter V-6 makes plenty of power and is agreeable when you aren’t stressing it.
I particularly like that the rear-wheel steering isn’t as invasive and the transmission shifts a touch smoother in the V-6. Other than that you get the same great Infiniti M with a beautiful interior, functional controls, and great styling. In the M, Infiniti has a broad array of active safety devices such as blind-spot assist, lane departure warning, and distance warning. The last one is a feature that pushes the gas pedal upward when you’ve started tailgating someone. It’s annoying when it activates, but that’s the point. A normal, safe driver would rarely have the pedal fight their right foot and the feature can be deactivated. Still, I imagine it could be particularly useful as a driver training aid.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2011 Infiniti M37
Base price (with destination): $47,115
Price as tested: $59,660
3.7-liter V-6 engine
7-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode
Power sliding/tinted glass moonroof
Bi-Xenon HID headlamps
18-inch aluminum wheels
Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
7-inch color display
XM satellite radio
AM/FM audio system with 6-speakers
Single CD player
Dual-zone automatic climate control
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Electronic brake force distribution
Vehicle dynamic control
Traction control system
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Sport package — $3650
20-inch aluminum wheels
Sport front fascia
4-wheel active steer
Sport seats, steering wheel and shift knob
Premium package — $3350
Infiniti hard drive navigation system
8-inch color touch-screen display
Zagat Survey, restaurant reviews
Infiniti voice recognition
Bose 10-speaker premium audio
Streaming audio via Bluetooth
9.3 GB music box
Climate controlled seats
Heated steering wheel
Technology package — $3000
Intelligent cruise control
Lane departure warning
Land departure prevention
Distance control assist
Intelligent brake assist
Forward collision warning
Front pre-crash seatbelts
Active trace control
Adaptive front lighting system
Sport touring package — $2000
Bose digital 16-speaker premium audio
Forest air system
Power rear sunshade
Illuminated kick plates — $350
Trunk mat, trunk net, first aid kit — $195
Key options not on vehicle:
Deluxe touring package — $3800
Sport touring package plus:
Semi-aniline leather seating
Quilted seat pattern stitching
White ash silver-powdered wood trim
Premium soft-touch interior materials
Rear decklid spoiler — $440
18 / 26 / 21 mpg
Size: 3.7L DOHC 24-valve V-6
Horsepower: 330 hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
Curb weight: 3858 lbs
Wheels: 20 x 9-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
245/40R20 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance tires