by Twain Mein
This review is for the Infiniti M35. There are three versions of the M35; “base”, M35x—all wheel drive, and M35 Sport—with sport suspension and rear wheel steering. This review is for the base model—though heavily optioned. Sticker is $41,000, but ours was loaded and came to nearly $50,000. It’s a sport/luxury sedan that competes against the Lexus GS, Audi A6, and in between the BMW 5- series. With less than 300 horsepower and somewhat non-descript styling, I wasn’t sure how well it would fare.
- Wow. Upon closer inspection, it actually looks pretty damn good. The styling is subtle but really elegant. Grows on you. Probably disappears to cops which means fewer tickets
- Interior. Gorgeous leather. Seats that are very comfy yet well bolstered for spirited driving
- All the electronics gadgets you could ever want. Most importantly, integrated blue tooth so you can talk hands free. This will become law next year in California.
- Perhaps too many electronic gizmos…
- Rear seat doesn’t fold down
The Infiniti M35 offers a lot of content. But at $50k as tested, is it enough? And with less than 300hp (it has 275), would it be enough to keep up with the big dogs? Let’s see… Starting the car. Not sure why the “Start button” has become so in vogue, but, like the Toyota Hybrids, the M35 has a key fob that simply needs to be “in the car” to start. There is a small chamber that houses the key fob. Stick the key in there then, separately, keep your foot on the brake and hit the “start” button. Interesting but perhaps overkill.
The fit and finish is immaculate. High quality paint and tidy engine compartment (though overly protected by plastic covers) falls in line with the excellence that Infinity has established over the years. Firm suspension soaks up speed bumps without being too jarring. Not as plush as an Audi but on par with a BMW. No rattles and road noise at highway speed is very quiet. Chassis feels extremely solid..
Comfortable yet supportive front seats; air conditioning and heating for your bum are a nice treat—especially the cooling feature. Rear seat room is very good for leg and head space. Toe room is acceptable. Rear seat is comfortable for passengers and easy to strap a baby seat in to. Multi-function command center is a bit overwhelming, similar to the i-drive of a BMW; it takes some learning to master and may not be possible to use completely hands-free. Rosewood trim was matte in finish; looked almost synthetic. Analog clock that is signature to Infiniti still isn’t as easy to read as a digital. Awesome feature is the remote tire pressure readout—let’s you know inflation for all 4 tires. Another cool feature is the seat moves back and steering wheel up when you stop the car. When you start it again, everything moves back in to place—slick. The worst feature is the Lane Departure Warning (LDW); it buzzes when you switch lanes at 45+ mph without signaling. I couldn’t figure out how to disable the LDW and it was extremely annoying. The rear-view backup camera redeemed a lot of points, though.
Wow, for “only “275hp, this puppy hauls. Engine feels torquey yet still revvable though a bit noisy above 5000 rpm. Handling is secure and body lean is impressively absent. This car shines on long freeway expanses and cruises effortlessly at 80mph. Quick squirts from 80 to 100 were uneventful and powerful and the interior remains very quiet. Turning off the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) allowed satisfying wheel spin from the rear wheels when pressed.
This car definitely feels light on it’s feet. There isn’t a lot of body roll; it’s surprisingly responsive and feels lighter than it’s size. The electronic stability feature (VDC-Vehicle Dynamics Control) cut in a little earlier/safer than perhaps the real limits of the car. For most folks, it’s probably not even noticeable under most conditions.
I admit that I have never really paid much attention to this car. The shape blends in with the rest of the aero styled sedans. But unlike the Infiniti G35 that is derivative of the BMW “bangle butt” 3 series, upon closer inspection, the M35 is actually more refreshing. In fact, the more I looked at the car, the more I appreciated it. It’s smooth and flowing from the front bumper, steep windshield and high back. By the end of the ride, I was really warming up to it.
Fifty Thousand dollars is a lot of money. And it’s a competitive price point. The M35 doesn’t have the most power or the best handling but it is a very nice combination. It is an excellent high-speed commuter car with ample room for 4. It offers refinement and luxury yet sportiness through the manual shifting option and surprisingly good handling. 18/25 mpg is reasonable for a car of these capabilities. Interior gadgets such as integrated blue tooth, tire pressure monitoring, backup camera, GPS, and surround-sound Bose stereo provide pretty much all the amenities you need.
I have to say my eyes were opened. This is a very “pretty” car with luxury that would be a pleasure to commute in. But it’s also got the power and handling to make spirited runs rewarding. If I was in a position to spend this kind of money on a new car, I’d seriously consider it. It’s got a great combination of luxury, sportiness and features that make it a very good value for the money.
Who should buy it?
If you’ve got a long commute, frequently haul at least one or more person(s), and you appreciate a comfortable ride with good handling, you’ll be impressed. I’d strongly consider the M35 if you’re shopping for a BMW 5-series or Audi A6.
Editor’s Note: Cars similar in class with the Infiniti M are the Acura RL, BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-class, Audi A6, Lexus GS, and Cadillac DTS.
>> See all of the Infiniti M35 photos in our photo gallery
>> Read more Infiniti M35/M45 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