Performance » 9
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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
Enthusiastic, albeit somewhat thirsty, powerplants
Kelley Blue Book
churns out fluid power with no peaky burst or low-end sluggishness
the Infiniti M35 [feels] much smaller and more nimble than you might expect
Steering feel is sporty and precise
The 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 look similar, but are starkly different under the hood. The 2010 M35 is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 303 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque; it's suitably swift for the class, and the V-6 emits an enjoyable growl when pressed hard. Cars.com reports the V-6 "churns out fluid power with no peaky burst or low-end sluggishness." Its fuel economy is rated at 17/25 mpg, down from previous years. A seven-speed automatic shifts gears in the rear-drive M35; the all-wheel-drive M35x sticks with a five-speed automatic. Both transmissions feature a manual shift mode, Downshift Rev Matching, and Drive Sport (DS) mode. Kelley Blue Book provides the specifics on performance: "the V6 propels an M35 from 0 to 60 in just over 6 seconds-or slightly more for the heavier AWD M35x."
Edmunds calls the 2010 Infiniti M's powertrains "impressive" and proclaims, "the M35's V6 should provide more than enough power for most drivers." On the other hand, their editors "praised the Infiniti M45 for its explosive power." That propulsion comes from a 325-horsepower, 4.5-liter V-8 teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission. It feels more responsive, even when the all-wheel-drive option is specified. Cars.com says the M45 "trades the M35's finesse for brute hang-the-tail-out power at pretty much any speed." Kelley Blue Book notes the M45's V-8 drops 0-60 mph times "into the mid-to-high five-second range." Fuel economy is rated at a low 14/20 mpg.
Sedate from the outside, the Infiniti M sedans handle as well as any German competitors short of the vicious BMW M and Benz AMG sedans. Underpinning the Infiniti M is an "advanced suspension design [that] responds with just the right mix of compliance and firmness," finds Edmunds. The M45 in particular has very responsive acceleration, and both cars have plenty of road feel in their steering. It's easy to hustle the big M through corners like a smaller car. "All Ms have a firm, composed ride," observes ConsumerGuide, pointing out the "base M35 and M45 absorb bumps best." Infiniti Ms with the Sport Package receive Rear Active Steer, which "varies the geometry of the rear wheels...to deliver even more immediate and positive reactions during spirited cornering," says Kelley Blue Book. As Cars.com sums it up, "at its limits the M displays good grip and even better balance."
The optional all-wheel-drive system doesn't dull the 2010 Infiniti M and its handling response as much as AWD setups on competitive vehicles. Opting for the Infiniti M all-wheel-drive models will "sacrifice a bit of enthusiast appeal," warns Kelley Blue Book, though "Nissan's outstanding AWD system can seamlessly transfer torque from [rear-to-front] and side-to-side as...conditions warrant, making it a feature well worth considering for those who live outside of the Sun Belt." ConsumerGuide notes the AWD cars have "tauter suspension settings, resulting in a slightly less compliant ride," while adding, "a 50/50 front/rear power split can be locked in via the snow-mode button on the center console."
Beneath the conservative appearance, the 2010 Infiniti M35 and M45 are driver's cars.