2011 Infiniti M56: Going the Distance
August 16, 2011
From the office to my place is about 48 miles, door-to-door. That's a pretty average commute for most Southern Californians (although it probably sounds insane to many readers around the country). I wasn't too concerned when signing out the M56 last night with only a quarter-tank of gas, nor when the range meter indicated the car only had 52 miles left in it. Yet only a couple of miles from the office, before the freeway, the meter dropped to 47.
This could be tight. Still, a quarter of a tank and less than 50 miles? Well, what the hell - why not? The Leaf has left us nearly or totally stranded a couple of times with its fluctuating charge-remaining estimates. And the Countryman almost left Dan Edmunds floating in a busy intersection with its optimistic estimate. Time to see if another long-termer would leave us hanging. It would be a good chance to test Eco mode at any rate.
Eco engaged, the M56 started resisting throttle input. It gives you a little leash on acceleration, but quickly starts fighting back. Interesting, but annoying. You can impose your will, but the car is still loathe to accelerate, as if hoping you'll change your mind. But I realized this was for my own good and went with the program. On reaching the on-ramp, the M56 had already given me back a couple of miles on the range meter.
The surge up the on-ramp starts slow and measured, but soon enough we're up to merging speed and the throttle becomes more compliant. The system seems to distinguish between the sharp, articulate pressure you'd use for a quick passing or evasive maneuver, and the greedier, roll-on pressure you'd use for just bossing your way around the lanes. It never felt like it compromised safety or the assurance of quick power for a few tenths of MPG.
I used dynamic cruise in Eco for most of the way home, kept right, and watched as the range meter slowly increased its estimate, then only very gradually started dropping digits, after several miles. More importantly, the fuel gauge fell only gradually and only just into the red. When I finally rolled in the driveway, the M56 indicated it could still go another 45 miles and finally issued a low-fuel warning. When I fired the car up in the morning, the meter revised its estimate down to 36.
Eco mode worked well enough. In city driving, it's probably maddening; just the couple of miles to the freeway on-ramp in Eco was an awkward dance of insubordinate throttle and engine braking while moving through signals and erratic traffic. But once on the highway with a little gallop, it acted more as a firm, but likeable trainer.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor