What is it?
Infiniti is the posh arm of Nissan, and it’s been selling well in America for years now. So they thought they’d bring it over to Europe, just as the biggest recession in decades took hold. Whoops. But Infiniti is persisting, and the car that takes the fight to the 5-Series and E-Class is this, the M. It’s got all the right engines now – petrol, diesel, hybrid – and all trim levels come loaded with standard spec. Not that any of this is really helping sales over here.
OK, first the good points. The M suits sportier drivers. It’s got four-wheel steer, which makes the car react much sharper in the corners, and the Hybrid version is a quick saloon – 0–62mph only takes 5.5 seconds.
And that’s about it for the good points. For starters, the steering doesn’t back up the sporty chassis. Sure, it’s precise, but there’s not a lot of feel coming back through it. And the ride is way too crashy – it doesn’t so much flow down the road as walk down it, crunching from one bump to the next. Also, neither the diesel or petrol engines are quick enough. Plant your foot in the classic 50–70mph dash, and the non-hybrid petrol wheezes a bit and takes too long to get past the slower motorway traffic. The diesel is quicker and more torquey, but is too gruff lower down the rev range. Which is unfortunately where this sort of engine spends most of its time. Whoops (again).
On the inside
If you like gadgets then you really need to get yourself an Infiniti M. This thing is heaving with standard kit – ForestAir to waft soothing smells over you from the climate control, sat nav, iPod connection, parking sensors, leather seats, Bluetooth. There’s hardly anything you can tick on the option list because the standard list is so comprehensive. Build quality is also impressive, but it’s lacking the class of an Audi as there are too many switches that you’ll soon recognise from the Infiniti’s Nissan siblings. The layout is also a bit American for our tastes – the wood trim is especially shiny.
There isn’t anything especially sensible about owning an M. The petrol version will struggle to better 20mpg, so that really is a crazy choice, but even the hybrid and the diesel can’t match
the fuel economy figures that rivals can. Company-car buyers would also be unwise to pick an M, as the CO2 figure for the hybrid – the greenest car in the range – is a quite astonishing 162g/km. However, where Infiniti does score strongly is the dealer experience. You are seriously well looked after as an owner – when you buy one, they even ‘reveal’ it to you from under a silk cloth.