A couple of months after we first drove the new petrol-powered Infiniti M37, CAR has spent some time with the version that is expected to account for 55% of European sales for Infiniti’s executive saloon: the new M30d diesel.
Only 55% of Infiniti M sales? That few?
Sounds on the conservative side, doesn’t it? Especially as the only other version in the M line-up at present is the M37 with its 3.7-litre petrol engine (3.7-litre? You could have guessed that, couldn’t you?). But while it ought to trounce its inhouse competition, the M30d has some heavyweight rivals in the exec market.
The Jaguar XF 3.0d, BMW 530d and Mercedes E350 CDI are the Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United of this segment. The question is: does the M30d have that little je ne sais quois that will help bloody the nose of these automotive big-hitters?
Is it all about the engine?
No, but it’ll be the deal-breaker for the more discerning driver. This Infiniti is powered by the same 3.0-litre oil-burner that’s in the likes of the Nissan Pathfinder and Renault Laguna. It’s rather agricultural when running at urban traffic pace although engine noise isn’t too intrusive. Depress boot to accelerator on the motorway and take it past 3000rpm however, and it’s more at home.
Perversely, the M30d sounds even quieter at higher speed, the windrush of momentum softening its rough edges. 37.7mpg, 199g/km of CO2 and 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds aren't at all shoddy, but the equivalent BMW 5-series trumps it in every department (46.3mpg, 180g/km and 6.3 seconds respectively).
Buyers should be aware that this V6 turbodiesel is an engine whose days are numbered. Renault/Nissan sealed a deal with Daimler in April that will see the Franco-Japanese tie-up take a number of forthcoming Mercedes-developed engines. These won’t struggle with the tighter EU6 emissions cap, unlike the present incumbent. We’ll have to wait until 2012 to see how these will fit into the Infiniti range.
In other news, the ride in this GT spec Infiniti M30d is on the softer side of compliant. Steering is light and slightly lacking in feel. And then there’s the grip. Now it could have been the road conditions – it was a little on the greasy side – but powering through a sharpish corner, one that I take every morning in a variety of vehicles, nearly produced my first ‘off’. It certainly didn’t feel like I was going any quicker than normal. At least I know the ESP works, kicking in to save me too much embarrassment as I fishtailed for a nanosecond.
Lexus has bagsied a piece of the exec saloon pie – does the flagship Infiniti M stand a chance?
It’s not a car to stop you in your tracks visually, although it’s not quite been beaten with the ugly stick. In fact, it looks a little bit Insignia-like from the side while the rear end has something of the A4 about it.
Inside there are decent number of wins for the M30d. You’re enveloped by leather and wood (in ‘white ash with silver powder finish’ in the model we drove, no less), a Jag-style analogue clock and a Bose 16-speaker sound system that would put Abbey Road Studios to shame. There’s even a pair of tweeters suck into the shoulders of both the front seats.
The seats themselves? CAR’s 530d Touring long-termer puts them to shame. We expected, with a GT, to find something a little more cosseting. And another thing – take a look at your hands. Seriously. I’ve hardly got sausage fingers but I found them nearly mangled betwixt seat base and driver’s door trying to reach the seat controls. Maybe the Japanese are more slender of digit than us Western Europeans?
Are there a lot of options, then?
The GT Premium, destined to be most popular M30d of the five variants available, is loaded with standard kit. That might account for the £44,600 price tag for this car (although £665 is added for metallic paint). There aren’t any more options to add as it has them all – including the ForestAir™ system. Yes, it’s got a ™, so it must be good.
Apparently, it neutralises odours as well as wafting air around the cabin in a more ‘natural’ manner. We couldn’t tell, but then our senses have been destroyed by prolonged exposure to engine noise and nosebleed-inducing music.
The new Infiniti M30d is certainly far worthier of your consideration than its petrol equivalent. It’s a decent car, certainly one that won’t have people scoffing if you tell them you own one. They might ask you what was wrong with the Mercedes or the BMW but hey, you’re an individual, aren’t you?
If anything, the interior refinement is closer to the XF’s. That long list of kit, many with ™ and ® next to them – suggesting that a lot of research and man hours have been put into them – is nothing less than impressive.
It makes sitting at the wheel of the M30d a good place to be. That will be enough to seal the deal for some.