The new Infiniti M56 is a masterpiece of style, both inside and out. The great curves over the front wheels give way to an opulent cabin with wonderful leather and wood in a spacious, airy package. This Infiniti interior is essentially my definition of luxury. I find the controls easy to use, but it seems that by now the rotary controller should be located on the center console, not a full arm's length away perched atop the center stack.
In all, I found the M56 to be a compelling car, but I also wondered if some of the options might have detracted from an excellent foundation. The sport suspension on our test car wasn't excessively rough, but I would be tempted to try the standard spring and damper setup before deciding which best suits this larger luxury cruiser. Interestingly, Infiniti doesn't have an optional package with active dampers to afford you both comfort and sport modes. The optional four-wheel steering (part of the $3650 sport package) will also be criticized by some for its behavior at higher speeds. While the M56’s rear wheels don’t start turning until 25 mph, the torquey engine eagerly rotates the rear end below that limit. The problem is that drivers will almost always have stability control on and its intervention is reactive and intrusive once the wheels start to slip, so it's not uncommon to have a small hiccup in power through low-speed corners. A proactive system that limits power in such situations might be a better, less noticeable system. For buyers, the best bet is to skip the four-wheel steering system.
The notably positive attributes are decent steering feel, and a 420-hp V-8 that's an absolute brute when you want it to be. My chief complaint is that the seven-speed automatic is sometimes fooled into downshifts that are delayed and then unnecessarily abrupt when they do arrive.
- Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor