2011 Infiniti (a)M(azing)

Infiniti recently set up camp at the Olympic Training Center outside of San Diego to show off their totally re-worked M sedan. It now has the swoopy lines and muscular stance that the rest of the family enjoys, but is it an improvement from the previous generation? OH.YES. I have been a fan of the Infiniti M for the two prior body styles (the 2003-2004 based on the Nissan Gloria, and the 2005-2010 based on the Nissan Fuga). I once spent a week driving from Manhattan out through Long Island and finally up into Boston in a 2009 Infiniti M45x and I felt it was a wonderful luxury sedan perfectly suited for a road trip. It was definitely not as sporty as the rest of the family, but the V8 engine pulled hard and the interior was comfortable. The new Infiniti M? It is a true luxury sports sedan that matches the rest of the family in both style and performance. The 2011 Infinti M comes in two main flavors; the M37 and the M56. The M37 is powered by a 330 hp 3.7L V6 engine while the M56 receives a 420 hp 5.6L V8. Both are linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted paddles available on the Sport trim. Inside the M, the materials have been stepped up a notch and the presentation is wonderful. A new wood trim with a silver-powder finish buffed in sparkles nicely in the sun yet retains a really cool aged quality. Another new feature is the available ForestAir system which moves the breeze around the cabin in a more natural fashion while at the same time working to eliminate odors both inside and outside of the cabin. It sounded gimmicky when I first read about it but it was actually quite nice. There were a slew of M cars ready and waiting to explore the southern California border back roads. I decided to hop into the M37S first and I was instantly rewarded. The 330 hp/270 lb-ft of torque was plenty to hustle the vehicle through twisty route. Upping the fun were the paddle shifters, huge brakes (14-in front, 13.8-in rear), and 2o-in low-profile wheels and tires. The feel from the front left seat was one that easily switched between aggression and relaxation, which is exactly what a luxury sports sedan should provide. Next it was time for a few miles in the M56x. Not many vehicles cross that 400 hp barrier  but it is a wonderful threshold to conquer. The M56x was noticeably heavier than the 37S thanks to the larger engine and the all-wheel drive system, but after a few turns to acclimate myself to the vehicle it was all smiles and exhaust noise. The 2011 Infiniti M poses an interesting question to someone in the market for a mid-size luxury sports sedan; why would you buy the BMW 5-Series or the Mercedes-Benz E-Class? The Infiniti M starts at $46,250 for the M37 and M56 begins at $57,550. That is less than the respective 5 and E from Germania. The M also makes more power than both, considerably more in fact. (Not considering the M5 and E63 of course, those are in a league of their own) The 2011 Infiniti M represents the perfect blend of the BMW and the Mercedes, at a lower starting point and with (much) more power. Plain and simple, they nailed this one. Full Disclosure: Infiniti was so happy about their new 2011 M that they set up shop in San Diego with a fleet of shiny vehicles and offered me a chance to drive it, then gave me lunch.

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