More Expert Reviews
|2011 Infiniti M56x
|2011 Infiniti M56x Specs
By Bill Clark
- Prodigious power
- Impeccable materials and craftsmanship
- Game-changing luxury and technology
- Computer-controlled powerplant
- No V-8 growl, just a exhaust note that sounds manufactured
Infiniti’s new M-series luxury sports sedan has the brains and the brawn to compete with Bavarian and German luxury car manufacturers. Under the spotlight Infiniti has used its M56x as a showcase to illustrate how technology should be put to use in everyday life; abundant and ever-present, but imperceptible and noninvasive. The M56x offers power, luxury, and technology in ways that you didn’t know you needed, but once you experience them, you won’t want to live without them.
I’ll jump at the chance to drive anything with big horsepower. In this case, it was a 420 hp luxury sedan. I had envisioned being rewarded with wheel spin upon mashing the gas pedal, yet gritting my teeth under braking and cornering. Upon taking delivery of the test car and seeing its size and heft first-hand, I was sure my initial impression was justified as I thought to myself, “all-aboard the USS X56m!” At about 4,200 pounds, I figured the acceleration would be brisk, but it would drive like a boat. I was so wrong.
Build quality doesn’t get any better than this. I think Infiniti ditched their normal parts and materials bins to find the best of the best. Think of the M56x as your million-dollar private Learjet for the streets. Combine rare, even exotic material choices with impeccable tailoring and fine craftsmanship, orchestrated with an artist’s fluid brush strokes and you have an interior you’ll not want to leave. So it is with the M.
The Japanese Ash wood-trim is beautifully sculpted, lighter in the center and darkening at the edges, providing a soothing backdrop for controls on the dash and trim on the doors.
Perforated, aniline-treated, high quality leather seating surfaces, provide a soft, supple, tantalizing feel. Every surface that will be seen or touched has been treated with visual and/or tactile qualities to reward the driver’s and passengers’ senses.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The driver’s cockpit is so adjustable, everyone is sure to get that perfect “fits-like-a-glove” feel. The first thing you’ll notice is that the seats are soft, yet firm and supportive and well-bolstered. The leather seats are perforated and the front seats are both heated and cooled and work in conjunction with the climate controls to keep your body at its preferred temperature.
The driver’s 10-way power seat will get you into the perfect position. Once you are there, you can use the power tilt/telescoping wheel and power telescoping pedals to bring all the controls to your effortless reach.
Much of the interior and climate technology is built into the multi-function display. Take the time to set things up once and the dash-mounted buttons will simply do whatever you want.
Now what if your significant other adjusts all these preferences to their liking? Don’t worry. Just use your own wireless key fob and the M will know who’s in the driver’s seat and adjust settings accordingly – including radio presents and other functions.
If you haven’t noticed, Infiniti’s M is there to pamper its occupants. I’ve been pampered by cars before, but I noticed a new button on the dash that I haven’t seen in any other car before; “Forest Air”. OK, I had to look that one up. Have you ever spent hours in a car before on a long drive during a summer’s day with the A/C blasting, only to realize that those couple spots where the air is blowing are painfully cold but other parts of you are still hot? Forest Air to the rescue! Infiniti’s Forest Air will vary the source, speed, and temperature of the air directed towards you to make sure you stay at your preferred temperature, but without any hot or cold spots. I didn’t know I needed that, but now that I know about it, it’s sure nice to have.
Also worthy of mention for passenger comfort are the lengths at which Infiniti went to keep noise levels down in the cabin. The Coefficient of Drag for the car is an amazing 0.27 with the fluid exterior shape and under-car panels. As if that’s not enough to keep the noise down, the car’s audio system contains two microphones that listen to the car’s ambient cabin noise and uses the speakers to cancel out that same noise. It’s remarkably quiet inside.
Performance was over the top, but with one minor technology-related quirk. Even at 4,200 pounds, a 420 hp/417 lb-ft torque, direct-injected V-8 under the hood should be a good time. It does accelerate very quickly for a car of its mass, but while you control the gas pedal, the car’s computer controls the powerplant. Notice I didn’t say engine. An engine is what you control with your right foot. I didn’t sense an engine here. A powerplant is controlled by a computer and it only doles out power when the computer says it should.
So while you might want to be juvenile and see what 420 hp can do – say from a standstill, the computer is not so juvenile. It will not pour on the power until all 4 wheels are pointed in a straight line and you are moving along already. Accelerating from a stop or corner, the car knows how much power it can put down without wheel spin and it will not exceed that power output at that exact time. Bummer!
The redeeming quality here is that if you are driving through the hills in a spirited fashion, you can put the transmission in sport mode and after a minute of spirited driving, the car will catch on that you are trying to have fun and will begin to hold a gear for quite a while without upshifting since it knows you have sporting intentions. This doesn’t mean the car is not fast from a standstill, it just doesn’t feel particularly fast. It wants to shift out of first gear ASAP.
Even Sport mode did not allow it to hold first gear for very long unless you bury the throttle and keep it there. It also never downshifts into first gear if the car is moving – even at a very slow speed. Second gear is all you get unless you go into manual mode. But manual mode gives you some very laggard shifts. Even with all of this computer nanny stuff, you can still just mash the gas and watch the other cars disappear effortlessly behind you. The 7-speed transmission helps keep you in the power-band at whatever speed you demand.
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