2007 Infiniti M35 Review – The "Value-Oriented" Luxury Sedan

Monday August 6th, 2007 at 4:88 AM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

by Kurt Gensheimer

2007 Infiniti M35

Blings:

  • V-6 weight and fuel economy with V-8 power
  • Dizzying list of whiz-bang features
  • Easy to use navigation system
  • Light and nimble handling
  • FINALLY someone has figured out seat coolers!
  • Fit and finish like a German luxury sedan

Dings:

  • Mind-boggling list of whiz-bang features
  • Irritating Nanny Nissan Lane Deviation Warning system
  • Rand McNally works better than the navigation system
  • Transmission doesn’t compliment the smoothness of the engine

Ruling:

For those non-pretentious types looking to save thousands, the Infiniti delivers everything a German luxo ride does. Well, almost everything.

Back in the early 1990′s when I was in grade school, I had a buddy named Rick. Rick and I hung out a lot and often went on family outings, so I got to know his parents pretty well. Rick’s parents were cheapskates. Now they’d say that they were “value-oriented”, but we all know that euphemism. Rick’s parents squeezed a penny until Lincoln himself screamed for mercy. They bought the generic Frosty Flakes, wore the four-stripe Adidas sneaker knock-offs, and while all their neighbors drove either a BMW or a Mercedes, Rick’s parents kept it real – real cheap – and went with a new Japanese-made luxury car. It was called an Infiniti.

Since that time, the Infiniti brand has grown in stature, and MSRP. What was once nothing more than a glorified front-wheel-drive Nissan clad in leather and climate control has grown into a marque that competes on every level with the world’s finest German luxury sedans. Well, almost every level. To the value-oriented consumer, AKA cheapskate, and other well-informed buyers not hypnotized by the social status of owning a German luxury car, the Infiniti marque has become a mature brand which exudes luxury, quality and value. But still, there’s something missing.

Infiniti M35 - Infiniti Controller Infiniti M35 - front dashboard
Infiniti M35 - Bose sound system

Our test vehicle was generously provided by Frontier Infiniti. At a base price of about $40,000, our M35 had $8,000 in option packages including navigation, intelligent cruise control, a satellite-ready eight speaker Bose Studio Surround 5.1 system, and the completely useless Lane Deviation Warning system. When you first lay eyes on it, the elegant yet understated M35 doesn’t blow you away with its styling – perhaps one of the missing elements that German sedans have. However, once inside, the true character and draw of the Infiniti starts to reveal itself. Beautiful rosewood trim that doesn’t scream “Look at me! I’m not real wood!”, opulent leather seats with the marque tastefully embroidered on the seatback, navigation controls that don’t befuddle, and the essential Infiniti touch – an oval dial clock.

Driving Impressions

Although it’s got a V-6 under the hood, the M35 powerplant isn’t your typical V-6. This is a fire-breathing, launch-happy piston pusher that has better manners than Mr. Belvedere. With 280 horsepower at 6,200 RPMs and 270 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800, the only way you know the M35 isn’t a V-8 is by the less-frequent visits to the gas station. In fact, the legendary Nissan 3.5 liter VQ engine has made Ward’s 10-Best Engines list for 13 years in a row – the only engine to make the list every year since the award’s inception. Yes, this is the same “parts box” motor that Nissan dumps into all of its cars from the 350Z to the Quest. Hey, why mess with a good thing?

Infiniti M35 - V6 engine Infiniti M35 - 5-speed automatic Infiniti M35 - start and stop button

Unfortunately, I wish I could have the same praise for the M35′s transmission. Although not horrible by any means, the jumpy gear selection and inconsistent power application threw off the M35′s otherwise smooth and nimble handling in the twisties. When the tranny was switched to manu-matic mode, shifts were delayed, forcing me to give up and switch back to regular slush mode. For this editor, nothing replaces the feeling of a Getrag six-speed manual. Perhaps another missing element when compared to its Bavarian counterpart?

On the highway, the M35 was quiet. Eerily quiet. In fact, it was so quiet and relaxing I started to fall asleep. But wait, it’s more quiet than that. The M35 was quiet enough for me to actually hear the benign, gentle chime of the car’s Lane Deviation Warning system! It’s a useless windshield-mounted camera thought up by Nanny Nissan to alert drivers with a barely audible tone when they inadvertently drift into another lane. I mean seriously, its useless. If the point of the technology is to alert a sleeping or distracted driver, then why not make their ears bleed or shock them into consciousness with a vibrating seat? Nissan needs to converse with Mazda on this one. My 1989 RX-7 had a warning buzzer that would wake Rip Van Winkle. It was so irritating that I took it out and pulverized it with a hammer. Nissan, if you’re gonna play nanny, then do it with authority.

Build

Infiniti M35 - seat heater/coolerWow. I don’t know where to begin. This car is equipped with more features than a NASA aircraft. For a guy who likes his cars with a horn, heater and the tach in the center, I was blown away by the M35 features list. Because my fingers have only so much endurance, I’ll stick to the highlights.

First, I just want to say, THANK YOU Nissan for finally introducing seat coolers. I don’t know why it took so long for automakers to figure this one out. Gone are the days of showing up to your big executive luncheon with a grotesque lower back sweat stain. The M35 also has a very slick proximity key system which makes the traditional key and tumbler obsolete. The key fob has a chip in it, detecting your proximity so that you can unlock the doors with a button on the exterior door handle. You also start the car by pressing the brake pedal and simply pushing the start/stop engine button. What’s more, each key fob automatically detects the driver’s seat and mirror settings, and automatically adjusts upon entering the car.

Infiniti M35 - navigation systemThe steering column tilts and telescopes four ways, proving to be more adjustable than the seats in my 4Runner. The navigation system features very large, easy-to-use buttons and a turnstyle wheel. I pride myself in being ignorant of navigation systems, but I found Infiniti’s system extremely intuitive. Unfortunately though, the actual operation of the navigation system leaves a lot to be desired. It misdirects you, takes you the “long way” and doesn’t realize where you’re going until you’re already there. In addition, the Nanny Nissan female voice grates on your nerves. Seeing as though I’m anti-navigation to begin with, my opinion of the system may be biased, but I’m sticking with Rand McNally.

Through the navigation system an optional rearview camera has unique guide lines in it to help recently rear-ended drivers in neck braces safely back into courthouse parking spaces without risking further injury or frivilous lawsuit. But seriously, although the camera is slick, I question its usefulness. The M35 is hardly a vehicle with poor visibility.

Interior

The sane instrument cluster layout, beautiful wood trim and comfortable leather seats make the M35 interior a real winner. Even for a six-foot tall driver, the back seat legroom is still very generous. The cavernous trunk is wiseguy approved for dropping associates off at the East River for their final fishing trip. The leather-covered armrests are slide-adjustable and offer plenty of storage space underneath. For navigation-equipped models, the DVD box is conveniently stored under the armrest for quick access.

Infiniti M35 - back seats Infiniti M35 - trunk space

Styling

Although not a knockout from a distance, up close the M35′s exterior has little details that make it very attractive. It sports those characteristically smooth and borderline bulbous Nissan contours, and it’s got an eye-catching chrome grille. But what is really most attractive about the M35′s exterior are its head and taillights. The headlights almost look like miniature tank bezels while the taillights have the appearance of a Gatlin gun. If Japanese filmmakers ever produce a James Bond knockoff and need a munitions-ready design, the M35 is it.

Infiniti M35 - HID Xenon headlamps Infiniti M35 - tail light

Value

Now we come back to the whole “value-oriented” topic. Let’s not mislead, the Infiniti is in no way cheap – either in its MSRP or its build quality. Quite the contrary. The M35′s base price is about $40,000, and once you tack on the whiz-bang options, you’re pushing $50,000. However, when you consider the BMW 535i has a base price of nearly $50,000 and a high-maintenance, AKA expensive, twin-turbo V-6, and the Benz has a base of $52,000 for the V-6 E350, the Infiniti quickly looks like the bargain of the century. Infiniti pricing is more in line with the base Audi A6 3.2, but Infiniti has the Audi beat in the power plant department.

2007 Infiniti M35

Who Should Buy It?

I’m not going to say cheapskates, because really, if you’re shelling out $50,000 for anything short of a house, you’re not a cheapskate. The M35 is for someone who is not so insecure or pretentious that they absolutely must have a German marque. The M35 is for someone who appreciates value, quality, reliability and luxury over social circle perceptions. The M35 is for someone who laughs hysterically at those who think they’re superior because they drive a German luxury sedan. The M35 is for someone who puts unmatched driving performance behind a feature-rich, quality car with good-enough driving performance.

Conclusion

The M35 is a terrific car. Infiniti has produced a refined piece of machinery that competes on nearly every level with other luxury makes in this overcrowded segment. Note that I said nearly. There is still no denying the magic of flogging a BMW on winding backroads, punching through the six-speed manual and feeling the road as if your bare hands were touching asphalt. The Infiniti cannot deliver like the BMW in this department. But is it worth $10,000 extra dollars? I’ll leave that one unanswered. I know it sounds insane, but for me, what really makes the M35 a winner is something so simple yet so overlooked. Seat coolers.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4.5

4.5

4.5

4.0

4.0

5.0

4.5/A-

###

Editor’s Note: Cars similar in class with the Infiniti M35 are the Acura RL, BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class, Audi A6, Lexus GS, and Cadillac DTS.

>> See all of the Infiniti M35 photos in our photo gallery

>> Read more Infiniti M35 reviews submitted by the CarReview.com community

>> Infiniti Vehicles: Official site for information on Infiniti cars, SUVs, and crossover vehicles

Demo car generously provided by Mike Janto and his team of professionals at Frontier Infiniti located in Santa Clara, CA

Frontier Infiniti

 

3 Responses to 2007 Infiniti M35 Review – The "Value-Oriented" Luxury Sedan

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  2. Kurt Gensheimer says:

    Hi Jim,

    I wouldn’t say “throw away”. It’s a matter of justification and what kind of car person you are. I hate to use a moth-eaten BMW tagline, but seriously, if you’re a hardcore car enthusiast and want “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, the BMW is worth it.

    If you can do without the ultimate driving machine marketing mumbo jumbo, the Infiniti is no consolation prize. It’s a terrific machine and in my opinion, a far better overall value.

    I would never call the newer Infinitis ‘cheap’. I called the original Infinitis cheap, because they were, especially next to a BMW or Mercedes.

    I also used the word ‘cheapskate’. But don’t let a word like cheapskate pressure you into springing for the Bimmer. Cheapskate can also be considered a compliment, just ask my father!

    Kurt Gensheimer

  3. Jim Fox says:

    So what your saying if you have money to throw away go BMW but if you want value Nissan?

    Do you have call them cheap? How about “High Performance Value Oriented”





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