Vehicle Overview from Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid Overview
It took awhile, but Infiniti is entering the hybrid fray on its own terms with the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid. Yes, parent company Nissan currently produces the Altima Hybrid, but the company licensed the car's hybrid system from Toyota, a move that certainly involved tucked tails, hats in hands and some pride-filled esophagi. With the M Hybrid, Infiniti goes its own way. Not surprisingly, the ubiquitous Nissan VQ-series V6 has found yet another application in the M Hybrid. This time, it's a 3.5-liter variant that kicks out 302 horsepower. The electric motor supplies a peak of 67 hp, which is said to coincide with the power peak of the V6. Total combined system power is expected to be 369 hp. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a specialized seven-speed automatic transmission that allows this luxury sedan to drive solely on battery power, with the engine only, or with some combination of the two. Electrical juice is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack housed between the M Hybrid's trunk and backseat. On paper, the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid handily one-ups its primary competition, the Lexus GS 450h. The Infiniti has 369 hp combined to the Lexus' 340 hp and is expected to turn in better fuel economy, particularly on the freeway. It's far too early to know specific EPA fuel economy numbers, but Nissan's big brains expect the M Hybrid to virtually replicate the numbers of a 1.8-liter Versa equipped with an automatic transmission, which returns 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The GS 450h's fuel economy is 22 mpg city/25 mpg highway. In our brief experience with a prototype M Hybrid, we found the car to be both powerful and familiar. The M's V6 has always had plenty of grunt, and when you combine it with a torque-rich electric motor, the M Hybrid gets up to speed in a hurry. And unlike hybrids with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), the discreet shifts from the seven-speed gearbox make for a very natural driving experience as the revs climb with vehicle speed. If you've ever been irked by the seemingly arbitrary rubber band-style performance of a CVT-equipped hybrid, you'll love the M Hybrid. The trade-offs for the M Hybrid's hybrid-ness are price and weight. The M Hybrid weighs about 4,125 pounds, some 265 pounds more than an M37, and loses about 20 percent of its trunk volume to the hybrid battery pack. Pricing isn't yet nailed down. However, we expect the car to be more expensive than the M37 but less than the V8-powered M56. This means that the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid won't be cheap, but ought to undercut the Lexus. We'll know more as we get closer to the car's launch in the spring of 2012. Check back later for full buying advice, specs and driving impressions.