- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2005

Today, it is common for auto manufacturers to utilize one platform for a number of different vehicles. This practice crosses over from one type of vehicle to another. Infiniti is an excellent example of this method as they add more vehicles to their lineup.

The recently introduced M series sedan is a perfect example of how well this works. This sedan is an amalgamation of performance and luxury in a sedan that is fun and comfortable.

The Front Midships platform is used to perfection on vehicles such as the G coupe and sedan, the FX sport activity vehicle and the Nissan 350 Z sports car. This is good company to keep if you want a vehicle to offer the attributes of a sports car while also incorporating the lavishness of a luxury sedan.

The fun aspect comes from two available engines, each offering a level of performance that has come to be expected from Infiniti. The M is offered in five models, three of which are equipped with a very capable V-6 engine that performs well while adding economy of driving a luxury vehicle. The performance is raised to a higher level by the smooth, responsive and more powerful V-8.

The Infiniti M models powered by the V-6 are the M35, M35X all-wheel drive and the M35 Sport. The V-8 models are the M45 and M45 sport. Each of these models offers a different driving experience, but none will disappoint you. Each version comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission which also features a manual shift mode that adds additional sportiness to the drive. The electronics incorporated in this intelligent transmission adds to the driving pleasure. The computer control will blip the throttle perfectly as the driver moves through the gear range.

The V-6 performs extremely well producing 280 horsepower and 270 lb ft. of torque. It satisfied me during the first part of my testing. The V-6 has excellent acceleration both from a stop and during passing at highway speeds.

That is until I slid into the M45 sport with its 335 horsepower V-8 engine. This combination just allows this sedan to shine so much brighter in performance. Taking off from a stop the power pushes your body firmly back into the leather covered seats and exhibits exciting response to your right foot.

While the exterior styling may not break new ground, it is an attractive package that is contemporary and stylish. You will be proud to have the M in any of its configurations sitting in your driveway. The long sweeping roof line compliments the short front and rear overhangs, which give the M an aerodynamic shape.

One drawback to the short rear-end treatment is the smallish trunk opening. Most luggage or even golf bags will fit into the large trunk, however odd sized packages may not fit easily through the opening.

Performance is only one area where the new M shines.

The interior is one that is a stand out among sedans of today. Slide into the driver’s seat and you will be in awe of the flowing design incorporated here.

Infiniti claims the dashboard’s design was influenced by a piano keyboard. The design reminds me of a fine piece of exquisite furniture or an antique stringed musical instrument. Though it may not be politically correct to compare the wood trim to the wood stock of an expensive shot gun, I feel this is an excellent description of the fine wood. I could not keep my hands off the Brazilian Rosewood used here; it is sensual to the touch.

To accentuate the musical aspect, the M is available with the incredible Bose 5.1 surround sound system that takes the musical experience to a whole new level. Able to play the new DVD music and video discs, this Bose system will make you truly feel as though you are stage center of a live concert.

Interested in advanced technology? Well, it is all right here. The M can be equipped with standard Bluetooth wireless technology, an all-new Vehicle Information System with 7-inch LCD screen, which truly does have easy-to-use controls and even Infiniti voice recognition. A Tire Pressure Monitor System assists in keeping tires perfectly inflated an important factor in safety and fuel economy.

Equip your M with the Sport Package and you get a new Rear Active Steer system, which improves handling by adjusting the geometry of the rear suspension according to steering input and vehicle speed. Another safety feature available here is the Lane Departure Warning system, which warns the driver of a pending, unintended lane departure with multible pinging.

The increased rigidity incorporated into the new platform adds a solid feel to the passenger cabin which makes squeaks and rattles a distant memory. This M sedan feels solid from the inside and holds a firm grip on the road. You may not need another vehicle in your life after you’ve driven the M in any configuration.

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