Vehicle Overview
Nissan's luxury division has added a brand-new pair of M sedans for the 2006 model year. The Infiniti M35 and its higher-powered M45 companion went on sale in spring 2005 and are available with a V-6 or V-8 engine, respectively.

At the 2004 New York auto show, Infiniti introduced a concept version of the next-generation M45 sedan. The M45 Concept was a "balance of luxury, sportiness and roominess," said Mark Igo, Infiniti's vice president and general manager. The general shape of the new M35 differs little from the concept.

A new Lane Departure Warning system is available in the production version. The system helps signal the driver of a pending, unintended lane departure. To accomplish this, it recognizes lane markings and calculates the vehicle's speed and the distance between the vehicle and the marking.

In the M35, a 3.5-liter V-6 sends 280 horsepower to a five-speed-automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. Rear- or all-wheel drive is available. Infiniti's available Rear Active Steer system works with motor-driven control and adjusts the geometry of the rear according to steering input and the car's speed.


Exterior
Combining elements of the automaker's full-size Q45 sedan and the smaller G35, the M35 is built on a next-generation FM platform, which is also used for Infiniti's G35 and FX models.

Infiniti promotes the M's "low, aggressive hoodline [that] flows into the anchored shoulders." The body has short overhangs and a long, 114.2-inch wheelbase. The rear end features L-shaped LED taillamps and quad tailpipes. Wide front and rear tracks are intended to enhance stability. Lightweight body components include aluminum-alloy inner and outer door panels, hood and deck-lid panels. A rear spoiler is available.

A power-sliding sunroof is standard. Luxury and all-wheel-drive models ride on 18-inch tires. The Sport edition gets 19-inch tires, a sport-tuned suspension, the Rear Active Steer system and xenon headlights. Each M sedan measures 192.6 inches long overall and 70.8 inches wide.


Interior
Five people fit inside the M35. Standard equipment includes leather-appointed seats, 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. Sport models include climate-controlled sport front seats and aluminum trim accents.

A "Solar Eclipse" instrument lighting system is on the dashboard. Heated power reclining rear seats and a Bose Studio Surround audio system with 14 speakers are available. Options include Intelligent Cruise Control, a DVD-based navigation system with voice-activated destination entry and a backseat video entertainment system with an 8-inch roof-mounted screen.


Under the Hood
The 3.5-liter V-6 produces 280 hp and 270 pounds-feet of torque; it drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. Infiniti's all-wheel-drive system on the M35x automatically transfers optimum torque to each wheel according to road and driving conditions.

Safety
Standard safety equipment includes side curtain-type and seat-mounted side-impact airbags, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, a Vehicle Dynamic Control stability system and a tire-pressure monitor. Brake-operated precrash 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 also available.

Driving Impressions
This V-6 version of Infiniti's M sedan is less vigorous than its M45 cousin, which packs a 335-hp V-8. But in ordinary driving, the difference isn't as big as the numbers might suggest. Most owners should be thoroughly satisfied with an M35.

The seats promise firm support and ample cushioning. Outboard occupants get plenty of legroom, headroom and foot room, but the center spot in the backseat is high and hard, with no headroom to speak of. Visibility is generally good, but wide B-pillars can impair the view a bit.