What's New for 2006
The M35 is an all-new vehicle for 2006.
The original M45 was designed for buyers who wanted something more than a G35, but something less than the flagship Q45. Though a good bargain, the old M45 just didn't have the style, features or interior room to appeal to luxury sedan buyers. It was a fast car, while its handling was firm but certainly not world-class. After two years of sales, Infiniti pulled the plug and began work on an all-new M sedan. Well worth the wait, the new car is a bona fide rear-drive performance sedan, still positioned between the Q45 and the G35. Looking much like a grown-up version of the G35, the Infiniti M35 sedan rides on an extended version of the G's rear-drive FM (front midship) platform.
Unlike the previous Infiniti M45 sedan, the new M's interior offers dimensions and materials befitting a proper luxury ride. The standard interior is warm and inviting; the seats are firm and supportive; the standard amenities are plenty. Tuned to 280 hp, the V6 doesn't pull like the V8 in the M45, but its instincts off the line are superb. What really gives the V6 version star status, however, is the five-speed automatic transmission. It blips the throttle for you when you downshift and matches the engine revs flawlessly. The basic suspension setup is a double-wishbone front, multilink rear affair that, while tuned for compliance, isn't above taking on a stress-relieving two-lane blast into the foothills. The speed-sensitive steering is beautifully weighted, and never overboosted.
The Sport Package firms up the suspension without abandoning ride comfort, and adds Rear Active Steer which prompts the rear tires to emphasize turn-in when entering corners and enhance stability when exiting. All-wheel drive is also available. Starting with a 50/50 front/rear torque split, the AWD system can vary the split to send up to 100 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. While the previous M45 never felt like a complete package, the new M makes no excuses for its performance sedan intentions, even with a V6 under the hood. At the same time, a high level of style and luxury smooth the car's hard edges, and make the Infiniti M35 a must-drive in the midsize luxury sedan class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The M35 sedan is offered in two trim levels, base and Sport. Each one is furnished with leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat with memory, one-touch up-and-down power windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors and wood trim. The Sport includes rear active steering, sport suspension, upgraded wheels, adaptive HID headlamps, aluminum interior trim and climate controlled sport seats. Options include a DVD-based navigation system, voice recognition technology and laser-based intelligent cruise control (when in cruising mode, this system senses vehicles ahead and adjusts your speed to maintain a selected following distance). Among the other extras are a lane departure warning system and a 14-speaker Bose Studio Surround sound system with digital 5.1 channel decoding.
Powertrains and Performance
The M35 features a 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 280 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with automanual capability and downshift rev matching is standard. All-wheel drive is available, but not in conjunction with the Sport Package.
The M35 wears a full set of vented disc brakes, supplemented by ABS and the usual luxury car fare -- Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and BrakeAssist. Infiniti's VDC stability control system is also standard. All M35 models also feature front-seat side-impact airbags, front and rear side curtain airbags and active head restraints for the front seats. An available lane departure warning system alerts the driver of unintended lane drifting.
Interior Design and Special Features
The M35's interior is well appointed and features ultrasoft leather seating and Brazilian Rosewood trim (aluminum with the Sport model). Its firm seats are infinitely adjustable, universally comfortable and heavily bolstered. Overall, the M's interior is well built and attractive, but its decor can be a bit busy.
Though not as athletic as the V8-equipped M45, the M35's V6 still provides plenty of punch for most drivers. Braking performance is impressive, and a firmly tuned suspension provides excellent balance in the corners. The tradeoff is steering that can feel a bit raw around town and a suspension that crashes over large road irregularities, especially in the firm Sport model.