2008 INFINITI M35 Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 24, 2008

The 2008 Infiniti M Series has everything needed to be contender, no mistake.

The luxury-sedan enthusiasts at TheCarConnection.com studied reviews from across the Web to compile this conclusive profile of the 2008 Infiniti M. Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven the M35 and M45 on several different occasions and offer you a definitive opinion on this sports sedan. This review also compares the 2008 Infiniti M with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The Infiniti M sedan lineup was completely redesigned in 2006, and so the 2008 model year is a carryover with few changes. The biggest change is that for Infiniti, 2008 is the year the company further expands the M with a new all-wheel-drive model, the M45X.

The 2008 Infiniti M mid-size luxury sedan continues to be available in two flavors. The M45 is powered by a 325-horsepower, 4.5-liter V-8, while the M35 uses the 3.5-liter V-6 with 275 horsepower. Both versions now can be ordered with an all-wheel-drive system (an "X" is then added to the model name). A five-speed automatic with manual/sport shifting is standard. This transmission is very sporty in its performance, and matches engine rpm with electronic throttle blips when it downshifts during aggressive driving. Especially with the V-8 engine, the Infiniti M's driving personality is engaging and accomplished, exhibiting good ride quality and steering feel. Its performance is also right up there with the best from Bavaria or other points on the globe, with 0-60-mph times for the M45 in the mid-five-second range.

Along with the new model, the M sedans receive a sheetmetal touch-up for the new year that includes new front and rear bumpers, new taillights, rear trunklid and fenders, and a new grille. The shape is handsome, and it's aging gracefully.

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Standard features include leather seats, rosewood or aluminum trim, an electric sunroof, Intelligent Key with pushbutton ignition, Infiniti Voice Recognition and Bluetooth wireless technology, an in-dash six-disc changer with MP3 playback capability, and a Vehicle Information System with 7-inch LCD screen.

All models come standard with stability and traction control, anti-lock braking, and roof-mounted side-impact curtain airbags. High-intensity discharge lamps are now standard, as are climate-controlled seats and new instrument panel lighting.

A Sport package is available on either model; it includes unique trim, a Rear Active Steer system, and 19-inch rims. A DVD navigation system includes a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive; XM is available, along with its NavTraffic service. The new Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system uses the existing Lane Departure Warning system and teams it with stability control to keep the vehicle in its lane.

All of this equipment adds to an already excellent sedan that editors at TheCarConnection.com count among their favorites. The M also features a number of electronic safety measures, including Infiniti's LDP system, which can actually gently nudge the M back into the lane if the driver drifts to either side.

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2008 INFINITI M35

Styling

The 2008 Infiniti M series stays fresh with subtle, conservative styling changes that refine its sharp looks.

Along with the new model, the 2008 Infiniti M sedans receive a sheetmetal touch-up for the new year, including new front and rear bumpers, new taillights, rear trunklid and fenders, and a new grille. The shape is handsome, and it's aging gracefully.

Cars.com champions the 2008 Infiniti M: “The 2006 original took the field by storm, and today's car is nine-tenths as terrific,” they write, while Edmunds calls this generation “more stylish” than the first M sedan Infiniti sold in the United States. For the new year at Infiniti, 2008 M35s and M45s differ little from each other "aside from the badging," says Cars.com. They describe the M as having "a long wheelbase...and short overhangs." For 2008, the Infiniti M has an "enhanced, cleaner appearance...including revised front and rear fascias, grille, rear fender panels, rear decklid and taillights, and updated 18- and 19-inch wheels," reports Edmunds, which adds the latest Infiniti M is "a much more alluring and well-rounded midsize performance sedan with the form to match its already impressive function." The 2008 Infiniti M with the optional Sport Package has "unique alloy rims, more aggressive front and rear soft-trim contours, integrated side sills and charcoal-colored headlamp bezels," attests Kelley Blue Book.

"Warm and accommodating," "contemporary classic," and "upscale" are words used to describe the Infiniti 2008 M interior in various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. Edmunds writes of the 2008 Infiniti M, "most shoppers will discover a spacious interior that's both warm and accommodating...though some might find minor quibbles with cabin design." The Infiniti M cabin has a "warm, upscale ambiance," coos Consumer Guide, adding, "Trim consists of satin-finish wood or real metal [aluminum], precise-movement switchgear, and ample soft-touch surfaces." Changes to the gauge cluster consist primarily of the addition of Infiniti's white and purple lighting motif for "even greater legibility," describes Kelley Blue Book.

Infiniti Ms with the Sport package also receive, for 2008, a distinctive interior. Edmunds explains, "Shoppers focused on the sport side of the equation will feel right at home...with [a] unique steering wheel and shifter stitching, exclusive front sport seats, aluminum cabin accents and bright-trimmed pedals."

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2008 INFINITI M35

Performance

The 2008 Infiniti M with the V-8 and AWD has great power and handling; six-cylinders with all-wheel drive are still entertaining.

Infiniti Ms can be had with a V-6 or V-8, two-wheel or all-wheel drive, and a five-speed automatic. Either engine is more than adequate to move the M with authority. Fuel economy isn't great, though.

Edmunds calls the 2008 Infiniti M's powertrains "impressive" and writes, "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." In reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, this sentiment was a common theme. Cars.com also appreciates the V-6's power, saying that it "churns out fluid power with no peaky burst or low-end sluggishness, and under hard acceleration its high-pitched whine should be music to any gearhead." Of the M45, they write, "It trades the M35's finesse for brute hang-the-tail-out power at pretty much any speed."

Kelley Blue Book provides the specifics on each Infiniti M's performance: "With 275 horsepower and 268 [lb-ft] of torque, the V6 propels an M35 from 0 to 60 in just over 6 seconds -- or slightly more for the heavier AWD M35x...Rated at 325 horsepower and 336 [lb-ft] of torque, the larger V8 in the M45 drops that interval into the mid-to-high five-second range."

Competitors in this class are adding more transmission gears than Infiniti; 2008 Ms still make do with a five-speed automatic. Car and Driver explains, "The M continues with the same five-speed automatic (although with playful rev matching). This at a time when the rest of the biz is going to six-plus-speed automatics." This is not a disadvantage, as Cars.com finds "it works just as well, if not better. It holds lower gears tenaciously at lower speeds, refusing the mileage bait of an early upshift while you're still on the gas."

Where the 2008 Infiniti Ms fall below the average is fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov, an M35 achieves 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway; an M35x gets 16/22 mpg; an M45 gets 16/21 mpg; and an M45x gets 14/20 mpg. In ConsumerGuide testing, "rear-drive M35s averaged 16.4 mpg. M35x models averaged 17.4-21.2 mpg with mostly highway use. Test M45s averaged 16 mpg in [mixed] driving." Premium fuel is required for the M45 and recommended for the M35.

In previous years, all-wheel drive was offered only on the M35 by Infiniti; 2008 sees the M45 available with Nissan's advanced ATTESA-E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel-drive system. This is the same system used on the Nissan GT-R.

Underpinning the 2008 Infiniti M chassis is an "advanced suspension design [that] responds with just the right mix of compliance and firmness," finds Edmunds. "All Ms have a firm, composed ride," writes ConsumerGuide. "Base M35 and M45 absorb bumps best. M35x has tauter suspension settings, resulting in a slightly less compliant ride." Opting for the Infiniti M all-wheel-drive "X" 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, "A 50/50 front/rear power split can be locked in via the snow-mode button on the center console."

"Steering can feel a bit rough around town," writes Edmunds of the Infiniti M, while ConsumerGuide notes, "Steering feel is sporty and precise." They add, "Braking is strong." 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. Cars.com sums it up well: "All told the steering feel encourages twisty-road driving in a way a Volvo S80 or Mercedes E-Class cannot. Body roll remains well in check, and at its limits the M displays good grip and even better balance."

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2008 INFINITI M35

Comfort & Quality

Drivers of the 2008 Infiniti M will find themselves cosseted by rich, upscale materials and comfort for themselves and three of their friends.

The 2008 Infiniti M's cabin befits its status as a luxury sport sedan: Materials are rich and fit well, real wood or metal trim is standard, and seats are mostly comfortable, though noise intrusion is somewhat an issue.

"The Infiniti M35's large cabin seats five comfortably and is well appointed with leather trim and standard rosewood accents. Its seats are firm, highly adjustable and comfortably bolstered," writes Edmunds. They like the Infiniti M's "10-way power and climate-controlled seats" and detail some optional features: "power reclining and heated rear seats, rear audio controls, and a rear sunshade." Cars.com notes of the 2008 Infiniti M, "Four of the five M's seats offer ample legroom and headroom, but the bulky floor hump in back means a fifth passenger has to share foot room." They like the fact that "after you park, the steering wheel automatically powers upward to ease exit and entry -- and does so much faster than in some of the M's crankier peers." Infiniti 2008 Ms have 105.2 cubic feet of cabin volume, also according to Cars.com.

"Interior storage is OK," says ConsumerGuide of the 2008 Infiniti M. "[There's] good trunk volume and lid hinges don't intrude, but short aperture means drawer-like access." Kelley Blue Book points out "a pull-down center armrest [in the rear] conceals a modest pass-through opening to the M's 14.9 cubic-foot trunk."

"A warm, upscale ambiance" is how ConsumerGuide describes the Infiniti M's cabin. However, Edmunds writes, "the quality of materials is a bit uneven, and we find that the layout of the center stack controls isn't as clean and intuitive as it could be." Cars.com notes, "There are leather wrappings around the door pulls and chrome runners along the steering wheel."

Noise is a problem in this Infiniti; 2008 M35X and M45 "thump more loudly over cracks and bumps," finds ConsumerGuide. "It is somewhat less peaceful than other performance luxury cruisers," reports Edmunds, "[as] at highway speeds, the Infiniti M35 also exhibits a noticeable amount of engine and road noise."

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2008 INFINITI M35

Safety

Standard equipment on the 2008 Infiniti M covers all the bases, while optional equipment makes it safer than the competition, save for rear impacts.

Except for rear crash protection, the 2008 Infiniti M receives top scores in crash tests. Unique safety technologies help prevent accidents from happening, and Ms offer a bevy of standard safety features.

Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not tested this Infiniti, 2008 Ms were tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and received "good" scores for both frontal offset and side impact tests. The Infiniti 2008 M35 rated an overall "poor" rating for rear crash protection: "poor" dynamic rating and "acceptable" seat/heat restraint geometry.

According to Cars.com, on the Infiniti M "standard safety features include six airbags, with side-airbags for the front seats and side curtain ones for both rows, as well as four-wheel-disc ABS, traction control and en electronic stability system. Front seat occupants have active head restraints and pre-crash seat belts."

Some of the unique safety features of the 2008 Infiniti M are in the optional Advanced Technology Package, as described by Cars.com: "you get adaptive cruise control, Preview Braking and Lane Departure Warning. Adaptive cruise control uses a laser beam to judge the distance to the car ahead and apply modest gas or brakes to maintain a proper distance. Preview Braking uses the same lasers to sense any oncoming obstructions, including a rapidly slowing vehicle...and it will alert the driver with an audio chime and pre-load the brakes for sharper response. Lane Departure Prevention...applies individual brakes to nudge the car back on course."

For drivers with car-seat attachment requirements, J. D. Power notes, "Rear seats are fitted with the LATCH system" on the Infiniti M.

Visibility from the driver's seat of the Infiniti M wasn't addressed much in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, save for Cars.com's mention of the RearView Monitor, which "shows the view behind the car when the transmission is in Reverse." Kelley Blue Book claims, "Bi-xenon adaptive front lighting is optional in the M35x but standard on all other M models...[and] their brilliant blue-white beams...provide an even better look at what lies ahead."

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2008 INFINITI M35

Features

While the 2008 Infiniti M is a dream car for gear heads who love technology and have deep pockets to check off every options box, those less inclined will find the base M well equipped at a price below its competition.

Standard Infiniti Ms are loaded, and options and packages take comfort, luxury, and technology to the next level.

The 2008 Infiniti M is available in four trims: M35 (V-6), M35X (V-6 AWD), M45 (V-8), and M45X (V-8 AWD). The non-"X" models are available with the Sport Package.

Kelley Blue Book writes of Infiniti 2008 M's standard equipment: "Complementing leather and wood [or] aluminum trim a bounty of power assists plus dual-zone climate control, 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with six-disc changer, Intelligent Key remote locking and ignition, one-touch power moonroof and a power tilt and telescoping steering column." The 2008 Infiniti M's steering wheel has "switches to operate the audio, cruise control, phone and vehicle information functions."

Cars.com lists the following additional features as standard on the Infiniti M: "push-button start, voice recognition [controlling radio, HVAC and phone], Bluetooth, and XM satellite radio (subscription sold separately), a 10-way power driver's seat, heated and cooled driver's and front passenger's seat and a vehicle information system with a 7-inch LCD screen."

The 2008 Infiniti M Sport Package, according to J.D. Power, is equipped with "Rear Active Steer, sport-tuned suspension, sport front seats [with additional side bolstering], sport steering wheel, aluminum pedal accents, sport body styling, and 19-inch wheels."

Infiniti 2008 options on the M are available primarily as packages. "The Technology Package," says J.D. Power, "adds an upgraded Bose stereo, DVD-based navigation with voice recognition, a RearView monitor and a 9.3 gigabyte Music Box hard drive." The 2008 Infiniti M Advanced Technology Package, also according to J.D. Power, "upgrades the Bose [stereo] to a 5.1 channel Studio Surround system, Lane Departure Prevention system, and adds a DVD-video [sic] to the center console." Cars.com reports that the Studio Surround system comes with 14 speakers and can play DVD-Audio discs. Kelley Blue Book reveals the Premium Package adds "dual-screen rear seat DVD video systems, heated and power-reclining rear seats and rear air conditioning."

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