Review: 2012 Infiniti M56 Comes Packed with Luxury, Performance, Technology
The Infiniti M56 that underwent a complete redesign for the 2011 model year. [The 2012 M56 loaned to me for review by Infiniti is largely unchanged.] The new M56 (and M35, which has a smaller, 3.5-liter V-6 engine) has been given more aggressive dimensions and a sportier appearance. One no longer fails to notice the M56 when it's on the road. Before it was a candidate for Witness Protection because it was that bland.
There was little to complain about the previous generation M56's interior but Infiniti has succeeded in improving that as well. The new M maintains the roomy cabin of its predecessor while providing a longer, lower and wider shape. The M wheelbase is unchanged at 114.2 inches, but the width has been increased by 1.5 inches (to 72.6 inches), the length increased by 0.6-inch (to 194.7 inches) and the overall height lowered by 0.3-inch (to 59.1 inches).
The Infiniti M56 gets some credit for decent fuel economy numbers at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway from its 5.6-liter V8 with advanced VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift) system, standard 7-speed automatic transmission and direct injection gasoline technology. In a week of mostly highway driving, my numbers hovered are 23 mpg.
It's the M Hybrid that intrigues me, though. It sounds like a true competitor to luxury hybrids like the Mercedes S hybrid and the Lexus LS 600h. The 2012 Infiniti Hybrid is powered by the Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid System. It offers more than 350 horsepower (360 net horsepower) with estimated fuel economy of 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, with combined fuel economy rated at 29 mpg. That's great fuel economy for that kind of power.
One thing always associated with Infiniti is superb driving technology. Among the included technological features most intriguing are:
- Infiniti drive mode selector, a four-mode driver-selectable control of throttle and transmission mapping that helps optimize vehicle performance;
- Active noise control, which reduces undesirable engine harmonics, providing a quieter cabin; eco pedal, which provides driver feedback to encourage eco-driving behavior;
- Active trace control, which adjusts engine torque and the control of braking at each of the four wheels to help enhance cornering performance; and,
- Available blind spot intervention (BSI), a world’s first system that provides selective braking if the vehicle approaches an adjacent lane while another vehicle is detected in the blind spot area to help the driver return the vehicle back toward the center of the lane of travel.
It's this last feature that is going to do more to save lives than practically any other feature on the car. The best accident is the one you never have. The blind spot intervention is going to help distracted drivers stay put. Sure, there's something to be said for the thinning of the herd by eliminating bad drivers but unfortunately bad drivers sometimes take good, innocent drivers with them.
All this technology, performance and luxury add up to a vehicle that is superbly pleasurable to drive. It's the kind of car that you invent reasons to drive. It was a sad moment when it had to depart my driveway for a different vehicle. It's a sedan I could enjoy piloting for years to come.
The M56 starts at $59,100 with a delivery charge of $875 for a starting price of $59,985. The model reviewed had the optional technology package that included the blind spot intervention and intelligent cruise control, among other items, for an additional $3000; the deluxe touring package with things like Japanese white ash wood trim, 5.1 channel, 16 speaker Bose system, and suede-like headliner among other options for another $3000 and 18-inch aluminum, alloy wheels for $650. The bottom line is $67,425.
That's not in my budget but if the Infiniti M56 is, put it on your shopping list. You won't be disappointed in a test drive.
2012 INFINITI M56 STATISTICS
* Wheelbase: 114.2 inches
* Length: 194.7 inches
* Width: 72.6 inches
* Height: 59.1 inches
* Curb weight: lbs.
* Engine: 5.6-liter V8
* Horsepower: 420 hp @ 6000 rpm
* Torque: 417 lb. ft. @ 4600 rpm
* EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/24
* Base price: $59,985 (with $850 delivery)
* As-tested price: $67,425 (with $850 delivery)
* Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Mercedes E550, BMW 5 series, Lexus 460