Infiniti M35 Review

Infiniti M35 Review

Infiniti's first M-series luxury sport sedan debuted for 2003 long on quality and performance but lacking the kind of style, roominess and presence that buyers in this competitive segment have come to expect. Following a redesign in 2006, however, the M series was reborn as the V6-powered M35 and V8-equipped M45. As a result, this second-generation version is a much more alluring and well-rounded midsize performance sedan with the form to match its already impressive function.

The Infiniti M35 wasn't just attractive and capable, it also boasted more standard features and pleasing amounts of headroom and legroom. Though some found minor quibbles with cabin design and materials quality when compared to its most popular rivals, most shoppers discovered a spacious interior that was both warm and accommodating.

There were plenty of cars in this class that provided luxury and a few that might have had better performance, but Infiniti's M-series put the two together in a more engaging package than any of its peers. A used M35 is certainly a luxury sedan worth taking a hard look at. The M35 was finally succeeded by the redesigned M37 for the 2011 model year.

Most Recent Infiniti M35

The Infiniti M35 represented the third generation of the Infiniti M Series, but the first model known as the M35. Introduced for 2006, two M35 trims were originally offered -- base and Sport -- with all-wheel drive optional on the base car. The Sport trim added rear active steering, sport suspension, upgraded wheels, adaptive HID headlights and climate-controlled sport seats to the otherwise well-equipped base model.

The following year, all-wheel drive became its own M35x AWD trim. Equipment updates filled out the next few years, particularly 2008, when adaptive cruise control debuted and the navigation system was substantially upgraded with a hard-drive-based unit and digital music capabilities. Styling was also slightly updated that year, while the Sport trim was dropped in favor of a Sport package (although the content in each were practically identical).

Originally, the 3.5-liter V6 produced 280 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a five-speed automatic. For '09, power output was increased to 303 hp, but torque dropped to 262 lb-ft. A new seven-speed automatic with manual-shift control and downshift rev-matching was standard for the rear-wheel-drive models, but the all-wheel-drive M35x kept the five-speed.

Standard safety items included antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front-seat head restraints. For 2008 a lane-departure warning system that signaled unintended lane drifting was made available.

The Infiniti M35's interior was well appointed and well built, with firm seats that were highly adjustable, comfortable and heavily bolstered. However, the competition in this segment was pretty intense and the M35 wasn't quite as elegant and thoughtfully engineered as some of its rivals. The quality of materials was a bit uneven, and we found that the layout of the center stack controls wasn't as clean and intuitive as it could've been.

Though not as quick as its V8-powered M45 sibling, the M35's V6 still provided plenty of get-up-and-go for most drivers. Braking was also impressive, and a firmly damped suspension delivered finely controlled balance through corners. The trade-off was steering that felt a bit rough around town, and a suspension that tended to transmit road irregularities into the cabin. At highway speeds, the Infiniti M35 also exhibited a noticeable amount of engine and road noise. While these flaws certainly didn't make the M35 uncomfortable, it was somewhat less peaceful than other performance luxury cruisers.

There were two previous Infiniti models that carried the M designation. The M30 was one of Infiniti's two original models, sold from 1990-'92 in midsize coupe and convertible body styles. The rear-drive, V8-powered M45 sedan was produced for '03 and '04 before bowing out in favor of the third-generation M.