2012 Infiniti M37 S HD Video Review

While writing this story I did an informal poll, asking people to name three luxury brands. As I suspected, folks came up with usual players- Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Audi, and Cadillac (in that order).  Infiniti did not come up.  At all.  Such is the power of marketing.

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This is not just bad for Nissan’s premium brand, it’s bad for consumers who are missing out on a great choice.  The G37 is a terrific piece of kit, a rare car that challenges the vaunted BMW 3 Series.  Then there’s today’s topic, the new M37 S.  The short story is that it’s a great luxury sport sedan.  It’s just not getting much attention.

The M is proof Infiniti designers had their straight edge tools taken away, it has more curves than Jennifer Lopez drinking a bottle of Coca Cola.  M37s swoopy shape is quite different from the competition-  Acura TL, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class.  Hmmm, must be a lot of wealthy people out there.

To compete with those established players Infiniti has stuffed a lot of technology into the M.  I’ll cover the highpoints; this is a review, not a novel.

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Who Innovates Climate Control?

Apparently Infiniti.  It’s been a long time since there’s been new heating and cooling technologies, the last one I can remember is dual zone climate control.  M has that.  Add the Touring package and there’s a system called Forest Air.  First, incoming air goes through a special filter with a grape polyphenol filter and Plasmacluster air purifier.  Dry air conditioned air get humidified and finally “breeze mode” varies the airflow from the upper front air vents so it swirls around much like, you guessed it, a breeze.  A gimmic? Maybe, but what the heck, it’s kind of nice.  In other markets a slight wood and leaf scent is added, in the US you’ll have to hang one of those pine air fresheners from the rear view mirror.

Why People Buy In This Class

Probably not the HVAC system.  Status is important, plus there’s power, handling and technology.  M37 does the performance side quite nicely with 0-60 in a tick under six seconds, pretty darn brisk.  The throaty engine note sounds good doing its job.  Fuel economy is EPA rated at 18 city, 26 highway.  Even with electronic noise cancellation (using the same technology as noise cancellation headphones), I find road noise to be high for a vehicle in this class.

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The 37 designation of my tester signifies there’s a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 330 horsepower.  Gear changes get done with a 7-speed automatic, there’s manual control on the console, the sport package adds paddle shifters to the steering wheel.  You’ll hear downshift rev matches too.

Order the M56 and there’s a 420 hp 5.6 liter V8 in the engine bay.  Both the 37 and 56 can be had with all-wheel drive, they come standard with rear drive.

Infiniti has provided a dial (Drive Mode Selector) with four different modes that tailor the drivetrain’s personality from eco mild to performance wild.

Cornering is very compelling, this M37 has the Sport Package with 4-Wheel Active Steer, it’s mucho fun to drive.  The advanced FM or “front mid-ship” platform puts the engine behind the front axle for optimum front-to-rear weight balance. A rock solid chassis structure doesn’t hurt either. Active Trace Control adjusts engine torque and controls braking at each wheel to help cornering (selecting “sport” mode reduces the amount applied).  Ride quality is commendably comfortable for a sport sedan, the M is never harsh.

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My tester has optional high performance brake pads.  They’re exceptionally good, stopping so well the seat belt hurts.

A Car?  A Sentient Being?  You decide.

Tough to imagine M37 making people sleepy but just in case there’s Lane Departure Prevention. Using a camera behind the windshield to detect lane markers, it detects the car wandering out of the lane.  Let’s say it drifts left across the center lane without signaling.  Then the right brakes apply, guiding the M back into place.  It feels like a strong crosswind.

In the same vein is Blind Spot Intervention. Much like other blind spot warning systems, it signals if someone’s lurking in your “no see-um” zone.  Ignore the light, start to merge right and the left side brakes apply, gently steering the car back to the left as a warning.  It can be overridden but it adds that extra layer of prevention.

Infiniti says Distance Control Assist makes stop-and-go city driving less stressful by automatically applying the brakes.  I took the M downtown, found the most expensive car I could find (a BMW 7 Series), got behind it, enabled DCA, then followed it for a mile without touching the brake pedal. Fortunately the M never once slammed into the back of the Bimmer though instinct made the test nerve racking.  Ironically this using this stress reducing system is, well, stressful.  At least at first.

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Finally there’s the Eco Pedal.  To encourage fuel-efficient driving behavior, the throttle pushes back to signal inefficient acceleration.  This particular mode is not for me.  I’m married, if I want my driving criticized I’ll just bring my family along.  Besides, the moving pedal feels a little disconcerting to me.  I turned it off after a few days of testing.

Purists will be wary of all the active safety electronics found in the M.  It would be great if people just got off their cell phones and paid attention, wouldn’t it?  Many of these features can be tuned off completely if you find the car-as-sentient being dynamic a turn off.

A Nice Place To See The World From

All of this tech is experienced in a beautifully crafted cabin that appears to have been inspired by brush strokes.  Door releases feel custom molded to my fingers, they could be the best ever made.  The steering wheel is heated, seats are heated and cooled, the sound is top-notch Bose.  Infiniti’s user interface is very clear, using both knobs and buttons OR the touch screen, which ever the driver likes (though the screen is a bit of a reach).

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Audi seems to be the gold standard for interior quality these days.  M37’s materials and presentation are easily on par.  Gauges get an unusual machined pattern in the surround trim. The gauge hood, with it’s double waves looks like a woman’s leather halter top (and judging from the guys who rode with me I’m not the only one to think that).  Even the pedals have great aluminum details.  Of course there’s phone and iPod integration, a back up camera too.  Seats are sculpted more for larger American frames, I slide around a bit in hard cornering.

Sharing your M37 with a spouse?  Know that it recalls the normal seat, mirrors, and steering wheel setting, plus the last used audio source, navigation, and climate control settings for each keyless fob.  This could be better than marriage counseling.  All of the features in the M are very deep, you will not go wanting for anything in this car.

Evil Twin Is Comfortable In The Back

Adjusting the driver’s chair for a comfortable position, my doppelganger is quite comfortable in the outgoing positions.  The seats are very supportive, foot and knee room are generous.  No bins in the doors, no power port either.  There’s storage and cupholders in the foldable center armrest though.  The middle passenger has a large driveshaft tunnel to deal with.  Keep it to two and everyone will be happy.

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My TP metric is especially useful in a case like the M37’s trunk.  The cargo area is as swoopy and curvy as the body and the seats don’t fold or recline, there’s just a ski pass though.  That works against suitcases and boxes, you know, things often put in the boot.  M37 scores an average six in the TP trunk test.  FYI, a 2012 Honda Civic sedan holds seven.  At least there are space-saving hinges so your stuff doesn’t get pinched when closing the deck lid.

Prices start at around 48K for a base rear-wheel drive M37.  At 61 grand as tested, the M37 S is not cheap but it is a good value.  Infiniti could have just copied BMW or Mercedes like so many have before, but they’ve clearly taken their own road with the M37.  It delivers the performance, handling, luxury and technology needed to play in this market.  The only thing missing are enlightened buyers.

FULL GALLERY BELOW.  ALL STILLL PHOTOS SUPPLIED BY INFINITI (EXCEPT RED BARN SHOTS PROVIDED BY MARTIN CAMPBELL).

5 Comments

  1. 68mlo says:

    First of all, I’m not a fan of the M’s design. I think it looks needlessly bulbous, particularly at the front. The bulging rear fenders don’t look very well integrated. I don’t know that I’d call it ugly, but it’s not exactly the most attractive car in its class (my opinion).

    The interior is handsome, if a tad overwrought with some of the design elements. Overall, not much to complain about about the interior.

  2. MuffinCzar says:

    I’ll make my comment short and sweet. NEAT.

    But yes, I do like it (don’t have $60,000 to spend…)
    Great review as always Tom

    Thank,
    T

  3. JF says:

    If I had $60k to spend on a new luxury car (I don’t), the car would need to be prestigious, both in appearance and from a public perception standpoint. This car, in my opinion, has none of those things.It may be nice inside and a good drive, but if I wouldn’t get any prestige out of $60k, why bother? My gut feeling is that many rich folks will think this way and will head straight to the typical german luxury brands showrooms.

    Sorry Infiniti, you’ll need to work on your brand image for quite a while to steal the typical luxury car buyers from the Audi/BMW/Mercedes trio. Good luck, Cadillac has been striving to build their image for more than 10 years and they still aren’t there yet (their Ciel-based uber-sedan might change that)…

  4. Ken says:

    I like the leather halter guage top……………lol……….still better than the old Chris Bangle’s ugly BMW camel back dashboard.

  5. Ted says:

    It undoubtely is one attractive automobile but IMO displaying too many small imperfections in such a demanding sector: they’ve taken the curvy scheme too far to the point you can feel dizzy without suffering motion sickness; I personally find find heightened back seats (aka theater watch) aesthetically flawed, just like on the RR Ghost; no LED’s in the front on a premium sports sedan just released?; and considering it’s sharing engine with the lovely 370Z, exhaust note could be more present under hard acceleration, not to mention fake vortex wheels. I know I’m picky but Infiniti is for sure close to reach perfection in the next couple of years.