No it’s not a bastardised four-door version of a mid-1990s Hyundai coupé, this is the Infiniti M, a rear-drive executive saloon with its sights set firmly on BMW’s new 5-series. It’s actually the third iteration of the M, but the first to come to Britain. Like other Infinitis it will be strong on value and equipment and features some novel safety systems, including a next-generation blindspot assistant and active noise cancellation.
Infiniti claims the new 2010 M's swoopy styling echoes that of the sexy Essence concept car from the 2009 Geneva show, but that’s probably being a bit generous. It’ll certainly stand out in a crowd of German rivals but only because everyone at your golf club will be wondering who is driving the Daewoo Leganza.
Infiniti M: lightweight aluminium tech
Where the two differ is in the use of aluminium for the Infiniti’s doors, bonnet and bootlid and having its engine mounted behind the front axle for improved weight distribution. Suspension is by double wishbones with four-wheel steer an option.
Inside there’s no nasty Korean velour to give you electric shocks, just standard quilted leather and the build quality is guaranteed to be superb. As is the cabin space thanks to a 2900mm wheelbase that’s longer than all of its key rivals’ apart from the new Five.
But even the new 5-series can’t match the M’s incredible list of technical highlights. First there’s a Blind Spot Intervention gizmo that actually steers the other way if you try to change lane into the path of another car and Active Noise Control that identifies undesirable sounds then plays opposite waves through the car’s speakers.
And how will the new M drive?
Dynamic Cornering Enhancement brakes individual wheels to aid turn-in, while in the Eco mode the accelerator pedal will actually push back at you to let you know you’re using too much fuel. And if that’s not weird enough, Forest Air recreates ‘the gentle breezes and subtle scents of an environment known to promote alertness and relieve stress: the forest’. Nosepegs at the ready!
European sales start in September 2010 by which time Infiniti will have – finally – readied its new V6 diesel engine, which is so crucial to success in CO2-driven European markets. We don’t yet know much about that engine or the petrol-electric hybrid coming in 2011 other than both will have a seven-speed automatic gearbox. As too will the other petrol engine, a 3.7-lite V6 already available in the G, EX and FX models that churns out 316bhp and 266lb ft of torque.
Prices won’t be finalised until summer 2010 but expect them to be competitive with BMW’s. That means starting at around £37k – bang in 530d territory – but with a list of standard kit that would send the German’s prices soaring.
Both petrol and diesel Infiniti M's will arrive in September 2010; the hybrid M comes in 2011.