Track Tested: 2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid


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V8 power with four-cylinder efficiency. It's the alchemy of the driving world. Nobody likes paying $4/gallon for gas, but for some of us, the cost of losing our performance cars is greater than the price of fuel.

And that's where the 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid comes in. On one hand, it's a refined sedan with a world-class interior; on the other hand it's a competent sport sedan with 369 combined horsepower; and on the third hand, it returns a Versa-like 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. That's a lot of hands to keep track of.

On paper, it should be the best of all worlds. For $53,000, it better be. And while fuel economy will vary based on driving habits, we were more concerned with the promise of V8 performance. So how does the 2012 Infiniti M35h do when fuel economy is ignored in favor of flat-footed fun? Follow the jump...

Vehicle: 2012 Infiniti M35h
Odometer: 4,325
Date: 3/1/2011
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $53,700


Specifications:
Drive Type: Longitudinal front engine with electric motor, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed automatic
Engine Type: 3.5-liter V6 with 50 KW electric motor
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,498/213.5
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 369 combined (302 @ 6,800 gasoline motor and 67-hp electric motor)
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 258 @ 5,000 gas and 199-lb-ft electric motor
Brake Type (front): 12.6-inch ventilated disc with two-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.1-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Electric power steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink with coil springs and stabilizer bar
Tire Size: 245/50R18 99V M+S
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Primacy MXM4
Tire Type:  All-season
Wheel size: 18-by-8.0 inches
Wheel material (front/rear):  Aluminum alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,151

Test Results:
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (2.3 with TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.6 (3.7 with TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.2 (5.4 with TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.9 (5.0 with TC on)
0-75 (sec): 7.6 (7.8 with TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.5 @ 102.9 (13.6 @ 102.8 with TC on)

Braking
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 119

Handling
Slalom (mph): 63.7 (61.6 with TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84 (0.78 with TC on)

Sound
Db @ Idle: 42.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 76.4
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.4


Acceleration: Holy crap! This car is fast. (All accel runs in Sport.) I could feel the torque immediately from launch and it maintains it throughout the run. Upshifts are quick and smooth. Turning off traction control only works up to a point and it intervenes with too much wheelspin. For the best run, I "woke up" the engine prior to releasing the brake.

Braking: Very effective brakes, especially from 30-0. Distances grew shorter for the later stops, but then the brakes began pulling to the right. Overall, very good performance aside from the pulling/drifting.

Handling: Skid pad: With ESC off, this car has good balance between understeer and oversteer where the rear steps out slightly just before the front understeers. Good setup with ESC on: a combo of throttle and brakes limits speed and disallows the rear from slipping at all. Either way, the steering is springy and only slightly informative. Slalom: ESC off, just as on the skid pad, the rear slides just enough for confident rotation but now the steering remains effective to catch it. Very good balance and precision in transition. With ESC on, corrections occurred before the rear could rotate, but returned control to driver readily.

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