2012 Infiniti M56

9.2
2012 Infiniti M56

The Basics:

Infiniti's M sedans take aim at the finest sport sedans from Germany, including the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6. And for the most part, they deliver gorgeous looks, excellent handling, and top-notch performance, along with cabin appointments that are plush and distinctive, breaking away from the class norm.

The 2012 Infiniti M sedans are true super-sedans, delivering sharp handling, scorching performance, and impressive comfort, with a beautiful but not overwrought design inside and out.

Between the two standard versions of the M (for 2012 there's a new M35h), the V-8-powered M56 offers the most compelling argument to hop off the Teutonic train this time. Powered by an awesome 5.6-liter V-8, making 420 horsepower, the M56 delivers neck-snapping responsiveness accompanied by one of the most hellacious exhaust notes in a luxury car. All the while, too, its seven-speed automatic transmission grabs the right gears--seamlessly when driven gently, with trigger-shift urgency (or manual control) when you need it. And just as with its V-6-powered, M37 brethren, all-wheel drive is offered in the M56 (called the M56x).

There's very little on the outside, or inside, to tell the M56 apart from the M37. Both models were completely redesigned last year, and it's the most graceful, voluptuous Infiniti yet. And the combination of organix, flowing lines on the outside, and punctuated, showy trims on the inside creates a look that's more expressive than just about everything in its class, even the ravishing Jaguar XF.

Just as with the M37, you can expect great handling, quick, responsive steering, and ride quality that's not quite supple but definitely not harsh or too noisy. It's all an elusive mix, and Infiniti's nailed it. Plus, with a big trunk and more back-seat space than is typical in mid-size luxury sedans, the Infiniti M is practical, too.

Features are generous on comfort and luxury items, with plenty of opportunities for safety-tech and premium upgrades. Noteworthy options include dynamic cruise control, a blind-spot warning system, lane departure warning, a ventilated front seats, and a nav system with integrated live traffic info and Zagat restaurant guides.

For more information about the 2012 M56 and M56x sport sedans, please see our full review pages covering the entire 2012 Infiniti M sedan model line.

Buying Tips:

The available all-wheel drive system in the 2012 Infiniti M56 (M56x) is rated just 1 mpg lower on the highway; and from our experience it's not significantly thirstier or (as is sometimes the case) any less fun to drive.

Other Choices:

  • 2012 Jaguar XF
  • 2012 BMW 5-Series
  • 2013 Lexus GS
  • 2012 Audi A6
  • 2012 Audi A7

Reason Why:

The 2012 Infiniti M56 competes with the Audi A6, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5-Series, the Lexus GS, the Jaguar XF, and even the Hyundai Genesis and Lincoln MKS—but it’s the E-Class, 5-Series and XF that find themselves outgunned in many ways by the new M. The Audi A6 was just redesigned for 2012, with a plush, well-detailed interior and advanced interface shared with the A7; but its interior is quite conservative. The BMW 5-Series was also new last year, and it has better handling than the previous version and even more safety tech. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a sharply pressed new suit and an upgraded interior--and a newfound sense of the road ahead, with sharper, quicker steering and a hot AMG-powered E63 four-door version. The Jaguar XJ can't be forgotten either; especially in 510-hp XFR form, it's almost exotic-quick while drawing looks from all kinds; but its tight backseat remains a major drawback. Also, the Lexus GS has been completely redesigned for 2012, with better performance and a sharper look.

The Bottom Line:

The 2012 Infiniti M56 delivers the performance of a true super-sedan, plus impressive comfort, all in a assertive but graceful design inside and out.

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