Infiniti is in the midst of re-launching their brand worldwide. Gone are the G, FX and various other alphanumeric combinations; in is forming a new approach to naming their products. It’s a confusing period, which has led Infiniti to continue the sale of the G37 in the United States until the Q50S picks up steam, in a transition period.
The Infiniti M, however, is a bit of a stalwart; the reliable big sedan underwent a transformation recently. Combining the new hybrid technology the market so demands, Infiniti managed to not create a Frankenstein monster with the 2013 Infiniti M35 Hybrid. Rather, they created a product that can be heralded as the best of both worlds – a car that takes luxury, comfort and quietness and kicks it all up a notch.
I’ve been a large proponent of hybrid technology in a luxury class sedan. It just makes sense. They typically are larger vehicles that are able to accommodate the extra weight and physical storage of the batteries. The smooth and quietness of a hybrid also allows for quieter operation while driving, something required in a big luxo-barge.
An issue that has plagued some other entry level luxury sedans like the Acura ILX Hybrid is the lack of a full EV mode. The hybrid there, although beneficial, doesn’t extend beyond a glorified start/stop mechanism. Toyota does a much better job with the Lexus hybrids, but they are equipped with CVT transmissions rather than traditional automatics.
Infiniti has gone to great lengths with the M35 Hybrid. Like the Nissan Leaf I just drove, I tried to repeat my ECO toggle driving method with the Infiniti. I found that around the city, it wasn’t as necessary as merging on to the highway. The ECO mode has some pedal-modulation taking place, trying to keep you in the green range and through the course of the week, I got 6.7L/100km. Astonishing numbers for a car that has a gross vehicle weight of a small house. To put that in perspective, my sister recently purchased a 2014 Nissan Versa Note for herself and she’s averaging the same numbers, combined city and highway.
The biggest joy of the M35h is the proper 7-speed automatic transmission. It’s a joy to drive. In an industry ruled by CVT, a transmission system that’s put in place to save fuel and smooth out RPMs, the M35 just feels right. There’s no stuttering on initial acceleration and there’s no rough jerk transitioning between drivetrains. Everything just works.
Inside the car, the door panels feature nice quilted leather; the seats are comfortable and quite enjoyable. The Bose stereo system, although takes full advantage of the tweeters integrated into the seats by the headrests, does lack of depth of range. The signal processing is enjoyable but sounds a generation behind fellow luxury class leaders like Bowers & Wilkins, Krell and Bang & Olufsen. In the back of the car, things tend to get a bit tight. The batteries are mounted behind the rear seats and there’s a trunk space limitation. It’s about the only negative with the car. It’s almost like a character from the Ghostbusters is sitting back there. The fact that a 1.3 kWh battery takes so much room is a bit concerning but likely to be addressed in the future.
The future is coming soon too. Just a few weeks ago, I had a chance to drive the new Q50S for a short period of time. My colleague Adi and myself both had Infiniti modles for a couple of days in a rare overlap. That Q50S left me shocked. I knew that there was a lot of excitement and hype over the new model but I just didn’t realize that it would be that good. I used to own the venerable Infiniti G35 Coupe, a car that still stands out to this day. After driving the Leaf, M35h and the Q50S, you can see the big picture happening over at Nissan. The M is due for a full redesign and a nice spa treatment, it is getting a bit up there in age.
With that all said, I can’t help but feel a golden age is about to happen again over at Infiniti. If they manage to merge the absolutely mind-blowing driving dynamics of the Q50S with the new M, I can’t see how they won’t have a stunner on their hands. Even now, I’d still recommend going to look at one if you’re in the market for a quiet, smooth, comfortable and classy full size sedan that gets the same fuel economy as a compact. With pricing as-tested at a smidge over $70,000, it’s truly a great car.
2013 Infiniti M35 Hybrid Gallery