2013 Infiniti M Hybrid Fast But Where’s The Fun? Review The Car Guide

17 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2013 Infiniti M Hybrid Fast But Where’s The Fun? Review The Car Guide отключены
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2013 Infiniti M Hybrid: Fast, But Where’s The Fun?

Not all luxury hybrids are created equal.  Philosophically, the premium world seems to be divided between those who would make use of electric power to provide sparkling performance (Tesla, BMW) and those who instead choose to mix their battery-assisted grunt with improved fuel efficiency (Lexus, Cadillac).  Then there are occasions where this marriage of power and frugality doesn’t quite get off the ground, with too many compromises made one way or the other spoiling the balance between them.

The 2013 Infiniti M35h — also known as the Infiniti M Hybrid — has all of the ingredients necessary to please at the fuel pump as well as on an open stretch of road, but its execution fell short of my expectations after having been routinely impressed by what Infiniti’s engineers have brought to the market.  The M35h is not a bad car, but it’s not a great car either, and when compared against both its line-up mates and the competition, it’s hard to recommend this mid-size cruiser.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

I want to start off with what the 2013 Infiniti M35h does well, and that’s offer a well-turned-out, feature-laden interior that feels every bit the high-end car that the sedan strives to be.  The dashboard layout helps contribute to the expansive nature of the forward half of the vehicle’s cabin, and wood trim, plastics, and leather combine to create a sufficiently upscale experience for driver and passenger.  There’s also heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, and redundant controls that allow for the infotainment system to be accessed via either hard buttons or the vehicle’s touchscreen.  My only real complaint about the M35h’s array of controls and displays is the small, low-tech LCD screen positioned directly in front of the driver that provides a simple indication of the car’s state of charge — aesthetically, it’s far behind its rivals, and a surprising missed detail from Infiniti’s typically meticulous brand stewards

Hybrid owners are used to having to give up some trunk space in order to accommodate a battery pack, and the Infiniti M35h is no different in this respect.  What’s left behind is a rectangular cubby that is useful, but far from generous, which must be kept in mind when packing the car.  Unrelated to its hybrid status is the lack of leg room afforded to rear seat passengers, as the Infiniti’s passenger compartment trails other mid-size sedans in this measure.

Fast, But Not Fun

The 2013 Infiniti M35h is a bona-fide speed demon, boasting 360 horsepower from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that teams up with an electric motor and a seven-speed automatic transmission.  Off the line, the M35h can squeal its tires with the best of them, although the amount of lag between kicking the throttle and having the drivetrain respond with its full fury is maddening at times.  Although a half-second delay might not sound like much to get excited about, when merging on the highway or attempting to pull away from a stop sign into traffic it can mean the difference between a confident manoeuvre and a nail-biting encounter with someone’s front bumper.

The Infiniti M35h offers Sport, Standard, Eco, and Snow modes to help sculpt its driving experience.  I found the throttle to be extremely sensitive in Sport mode and sludge-like in Eco mode, which meant that I selected Standard more often than not when piloting the sedan.  The vehicle’s suspension system did a good job of dialling out the crater-like ruins that stand-in for Montreal’s surface streets, but the vehicle’s steering felt overly heavy at all speeds, and when taken into consideration with the on/off gas pedal it served to dial out a lot of the fun that drivers can typically squeeze out of one of Infiniti’s well-tuned chassis.

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  Fuel economy came in at just under 10 l/100 km in mixed driving, which isn’t bad for such a muscular automobile.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the advanced safety features that come with the M35h, such as its lane keeping and blind spot intervention systems that taps the brakes to guide the car out of harm’s way, as well as a unique distance control feature that can be used whether adaptive cruise control is activated or not in order to automatically stop the car should it get too close to the vehicle in front of it.  These systems can also be set to provide alerts rather than interfere with your driving, and they work quite well — if a bit intrusively.

An Expensive Proposition

The 2013 Infiniti M Hybrid comes with every conceivable luxury feature offered with the M sedan as standard equipment.  While this makes the M35h a very comfortable place to spend quality time out on the road — not to mention a safe one, thanks to Infiniti’s investment in next-generation crash-avoidance systems — it also adds significantly to the car’s bottom line.  My test vehicle came with a sticker price of $68,500, which vaults the M Hybrid almost $16,000 higher than the base Infiniti M sedan and puts it in some rather exclusive company from a cross-shopping perspective.  Although not as expensive as a fully-loaded Lexus GS 450h hybrid, it stickers for more than the base model of that particular battery-powered automobile and also comes close to the asking price of a similarly-equipped BMW ActiveHybrid 5.

When spending so much cash on a car, it’s reasonable to demand an outstanding experience in every important area.  The 2013 Infiniti M Hybrid makes a valiant effort, but the rough edges of its drivetrain and its ponderous steering feel hold it back from being a true luxury contender.

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