Introduced for the 2003 model year, the M45 full-size sedan from Nissans luxury division occupies a spot in both size and price just below Infinitis flagship Q45. Borrowed from the Q45 sedan, the M45s 4.5-liter V-8 engine produces 340 horsepower. A five-speed-automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shift mode.
Billed by the automaker as a luxury performance sedan, the rear-wheel-drive M45 has a four-wheel-independent suspension. Five passengers can enjoy Sojourner leather seating surfaces, and the front occupants get sport-contoured bucket seats. Options include a DVD-based navigation system and a voice recognition system.
A full-size spare tire and tire-pressure monitor become standard for 2004, and the six-CD changer moves from the glove box to an in-dash position. Standard heated mirrors have a selectable reverse tilt-down feature.
Even though the M45 doesnt look dramatically different from other models in its class, Infiniti focused on its sculpted wedge shape. Mark McNabb, general manager of the Infiniti division, referred to the sedans strong, integrated appearance, as if carved from one piece of stone, with strong, stealthy lines. The front end is low and wide and features what Infiniti calls an aggressive grille. It is characterized by its wide, black, chrome horizontal bars that flow into the headlights.
Chrome door handles and body-colored side moldings and outside mirrors are installed. Clear-reflector taillights match the cars xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
Riding a 110.2-inch wheelbase, the M45 measures 197.2 inches long overall, 69.7 inches wide and 57.6 inches tall. The sedan is equipped with power-vented disc brakes and speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering. Aluminum wheels hold P235/45R18 all-season Michelin tires, and performance tires will be available as a no-cost option.
Sojourner leather seating surfaces are provided for five occupants, and sport-contoured bucket seats are available up front. The driver gets an eight-way power adjustment, while the front passenger seat is equipped with a four-way setup. Heated and cooled front seats are optional. Birds-eye maple wood interior trim comes in a smoke graphite color, and the gauges are illuminated in orange.
A 225-watt Bose premium audio system uses cassettes and also has a six-CD changer. Intelligent Cruise Control uses lasers to sense vehicles ahead and then adjusts vehicle speed to maintain a selected distance. The trunk holds 13.4 cubic feet of cargo. Like other Infiniti models, the M45 is fitted with a telematics system.
Under the Hood
Like the Q45, the M45 is powered by a 4.5-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine that generates 340 hp and 333 pounds-feet of torque. An electronically controlled five-speed-automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shift mode. Dual exhaust outlets are standard.
Dual-stage front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, and side curtain-type airbags for the front and rear passengers are standard. Antilock brakes include brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. A standard Vehicle Dynamic Control system improves stability. The front seats have active head restraints.
A smooth, luxurious ride is the No. 1 trait in the M45, which looks and feels awfully large. But its handling is reasonably secure and tautly controlled, so you get a hint of sporty behavior along with plush road-going softness. The V-8 provides plenty of power, but responsiveness falls short of some sedans in this league. Interior space is bountiful.