A newly redesigned pair of M sedans joins the lineup of Nissan's luxury division for the 2006 model year. Equipped with a V-8 engine, the M45 went on sale in spring 2005 along with its V-6-powered M35 companion. Infiniti launched the first-generation M45 sedan in 2003.
The M45 is available with Infiniti's new Lane Departure Warning system. LDW helps signal the driver of a pending, unintended lane departure by recognizing lane markings and calculating the distance between the vehicle and the marking, as well as the vehicle's speed.
Infiniti's 4.5-liter V-8 in the M45 is rated at 335 horsepower. The engine drives a five-speed-automatic transmission that features a manual-shift mode.
The M45 comes in Luxury and Sport forms. Both M45 sedans have rear-wheel drive, while the M35 version comes with rear- or all-wheel drive. A Rear Active Steer system on the M45 Sport model adjusts the geometry of the rear according to steering input and car speed and features motor-driven control.
The M45 is built on Infiniti's FM platform, which is also used for the G35 coupe and sedan and FX sport utility vehicles. Wide front and rear tracks are intended to enhance stability. The front fenders and hood are sculpted, and L-shaped LED taillamps and quad tailpipes bring up the rear. Lightweight body components include aluminum-alloy inner and outer door, hood and deck-lid panels. A power-sliding sunroof is standard, and a rear spoiler is optional.
Each M sedan is 192.6 inches long overall and 70.8 inches wide; a 114.2-inch wheelbase is used. The Luxury model rides on 18-inch tires. The Sport edition gets 19-inch tires, a sport-tuned suspension and xenon headlights.
The M45 can seat up to five occupants. The interior features leather-appointed seats and genuine Rosewood or aluminum trim. The driver faces a "solar eclipse" instrument lighting system. Standard equipment includes an Intelligent Key with push-button start, voice recognition, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, an in-dash six-CD changer with MP3 playback capability, a 10-way power driver's seat and a Vehicle Information System with a 7-inch LCD screen. The Sport model adds climate-controlled front seats (which are optional on the Luxury model) and aluminum trim accents.
Heated power reclining rear seats and a 14-speaker Bose Studio Surround system that plays 5.1-channel DVD audio discs are available.
Options include Intelligent Cruise Control and a DVD-based navigation system with voice-activated destination entry. The optional backseat video entertainment system uses an 8-inch roof-mounted screen.
Under the Hood
The M45's 4.5-liter V-8 develops 335 hp and 340 pounds-feet of torque. The V-8 mates with a five-speed-automatic transmission.
All-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side curtain-type airbags, Infiniti's Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system and a tire-pressure monitor are standard. Brake-operated pre-crash front seat belts, which tighten under emergency braking in anticipation of a crash or an evasive maneuver, are available. A RearView monitor with a new wheel-trajectory view is optional.
The Sport edition of the M45 is fitted with a taut suspension. Even though the ride isn't bad on smooth surfaces, you'll feel its firmness.
The M45 copes easily with moderate curves. The solid steering feel is somewhat on the heavy side, but it's rather precise. Acceleration is vigorous but not quite breathtaking. Whether you're shifting up or down, automatic-transmission responses are quick, but the gearshift lever is unusually short. Tromping the pedal produces some exhaust snarl, and you're soon moving faster than expected thanks to the smooth powertrain.
Visibility is generally good in all directions, but wide B-pillars can impair the view a bit. Other than the cursor device, large controls atop the center stack are well marked. Deep-set orange-lit gauges are easy to read. Solid cupholders are useful, and the analog clock adds an elegant touch.
The superior seats have firm support and ample cushioning. Snug bolsters aren't overly intrusive, but the ones in the Sport model are more confining than those in the regular M45.
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