Test Drive: 2012 Infiniti M56 Sedan

?Infiniti?s M-Line delivers inspired design and performance?

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Infiniti?s flagship 5-passenger sedan upped the ante in the mid-luxury sedan class for this model year. The goals of Nissan?s luxury division for the 2011 model year M lineup included: coming up with a sleeker, more expressive exterior design without sacrificing interior roominess, while enhancing the luxury quotient with elevated levels of hand-craftsmanship; providing increased power output along with better fuel economy while delivering improved ride and handling qualities along with a more aggressive Sport Package offering; adding exclusive new ?Safety Shield? features that aid in reducing driving stress factors.

The design was skillfully blended with existing styling cues to maintain the M?s brand heritage and DNA. The form is slippery in terms of aerodynamics from the low-mounted horizontal grille flanked by Infiniti?s signature hood cut lines and headlamp shapes that flow into the pronounced, high front fender wells and strong shoulder character line. A definitive rocker cut-line pulls the entire car?s form into a lower, more sinister stance, displaying genuine rear-wheel drive proportions with its long hood and short deck.

The M-Line sits lower and is wider, showcasing a more athletic overall image, with improved proportions that allow it to retain class-leading interior and cargo volume, and despite the redesign, the 2011 Infiniti M is nearly the same in terms of weight, compared to the previous generation, ranging from a loss of 6 pounds in the M37 to a gain of only 100 pounds for the M56X.

The interior was all-new as well, with a theme that managed to reflect the exterior?s premium image and dynamicism. Old-world-style craftsmanship is apparent in the center cluster flow and the attention to detail in door panels, switchgear and the shift panel. Interior switches are all-new, and specially selected materials generate a warm and welcoming ambience. The use of genuine Japanese Ash wood trim is still standard, with White Ash, hand-buffed with a silver powder finish optionally available as part of a Deluxe Touring Package (itself optionally available), which also features special semi-analine leather, a suede-like headliner and power rear sunshade.

The 2012 Infiniti M will still be available in 4 basic models, defined by engine size and drive configuration. The base model is the M37, followed by the M37X, the M56, and finally the M56X. The M37 is rear-wheel drive, while the M37X features Infiniti?s intelligent All-Wheel drive.

ower for the M37 and M37X is delivered by a 3.7 liter, DOHC, 24-valve V6 engine with sequential multi-port fuel injection that puts out 330 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm along with 270 pound feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm ? redline is 7,500 rpm. The M56 and M56X gets their motive force from a 5.6-liter DOHC, 32-valve V8 engine with sequential multi-port Direct Injection Gasoline, which generates 420 horses @6,000 rpm and 417 pound feet of torque @6,000 rpm with a 6,700 rpm redline.

The transmission for both engines is a 7-speed electronically controlled automatic with Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode featuring Downshift Rev Matching. Paddle shifters are available for RWD models as part of an optional Sport Package. Additional inspired performance comes from Infiniti Drive with four delectable drive modes: Standard; ECO, which optimizes setting for greater fuel economy; Sport that changes shift points for an enhanced performance feel; and Snow, which provides throttle modulation, limiting wheel spin. An available Eco pedal aids in promoting fuel-efficient driving comes as part of the optional Technology Package.

Four-wheel independent suspension consists of independent double wishbone, coil springs and a stabilizer bar up front and independent multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar in the rear. Braking is accomplished by power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with ABS, BA and EBD, with the Sport Package providing larger brakes fore and aft.

The Infiniti M?s technology inspiration delivers a continuation of their ?Safety Shield? featuring: Lane Departure Warning; Lane Departure Prevention; Intelligent Brake Assist (Forward Collision Warning); Intelligent Cruise Control with full-speed range. Distance Control Assist continues for Infiniti M, as does the?Blind Spot Intervention System, which takes Blind Spot Warning to the next level by applying selective braking, helping the driver to bring the vehicle back to the center of the driving lane, should a vehicle be detected during an intended lane change. Wait, there?s more ? an Active Trace Control aids in enhancing the transition from braking into and then accelerating out of corners, and by applying selective braking to help create increased steering response. Active Noise Control helps to cancel undesirable low-frequency engine sounds by utilizing door speakers when equipped with Bose? sound systems. The available Bose? 5.1 Studio Surround? sound system features AudioPilot 2? 2-signal processing, a 14-channel digital amplifier, Bose? Centerpoint and 16 speakers.

The Forest Air? system provides a breeze mode that creates artificial airflow variations while filtering cabin odors, bacteria and viruses.

The 2012 Infiniti M factory-installed package list includes; the $3,350 Premium Package ? optional for M37, standard for M56; $3,800 Deluxe Touring Package; and the $3,000 Technology Package. There are also several Port-installed options that may be selected for added vehicle personalization. Other enhancements for 2012 Infiniti M models include the addition of a new 18-inch wheel package, the combining of the previous M56 Sport and Sport Touring Packages into a single Sport Package, and the availability of the Graphite interior for models equipped with the Deluxe Touring Package.

The M56 obviously cranks out considerably more power and provides added amenities, while the M37 S would prove to be an ideal vehicle for the majority of consumers, that cranking out plenty of power, yielding outstanding acceleration and superb handling characteristics –? particularly with the 4-Wheel Active Steering, which really isn?t readily discernable.

Both the M37 and M56 haul the mail with impressive aplomb, while holding the road surface tenaciously and remaining flat and stable over challenging, twisty roads. Both are equally pleasant to pilot in more sedate freeway scenarios.

My latest test M-Line Infiniti was the M56 finished outside in Platinum Graphite metallic and inside in a Stone and Charcoal theme with the Silver infused wood trim accents. The base price was set at $59,100 while optional fare bumped the final sticker to $68,435. It?s not inexpensive, but it certainly seems like an excellent value given the features and equipment content.

Bottom line, it?s no stretch to summarize that the team at Infiniti have done their homework well, and as a result, have successfully achieved the goals that were ambitiously set. The M in any of its forms, proves itself to be a rewarding, safe and secure mid-luxury sedan to pilot in virtually any situation. I certainly enjoyed piloting it about in the grandeur of Maine while enjoying the intake of lobstah in several of its culinary forms.

 

 

 

 

 

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