The luxury hybrid market is an interesting place: while most gas/electrics are reserved for penny pinchers and rigorous commuters, these full size electron boosted saloons are aimed at those who could afford all the petrol on the planet. These tend to be people that are more interested in making a statement than purely saving the environment, refuse to give up any of the finer things in life, and the 2012 Infiniti M35h does just that.
Lexus is looking for a V12 competitor, Mercedes offers a similar V6/electric motor combination to the M35h but are more focused on selling the world on BlueTec and BMW is going all ActiveHybrid. However there is one automaker that has a history of overbuilding and underrating their products, pushing the performance envelope in a confident understated manner. After all, isn’t that what elegance is all about?
The Infiniti M35h is motivated by a more powerful and efficient version of the engine found in the 350Z, this time combined with an electric motor which is good for a total output of 360 HP that can still return fuel economy numbers in the 30 MPG range. Adorned with flowing lines and a lavish interior there is little that this luxury sedan doesn’t offer. Our car came with plush leather, Japanese White Ash wood trim and genuine silver powder accents, as well as the upgraded Bose Premium audio system that puts speakers in the seatbacks and brings the asking price up to $61,745 including destination fees; a sum that doesn’t seem so shocking when it can be said that this car is doing something for the environment.
2012 Infiniti M35h: Exterior
From the outside, the 2012 Infiniti M35h looks like any other M except for a few bespoke badges on the fenders and the little extra h on the boot that hint at the hybrid four door’s electric underpinnings. Now, that is not to say that there is anything wrong with looking like an Infinti M, because even in standard form the full-size luxury sedan sports some sweet, sexy curves. Lines include flowing front fenders that lead into robust rear arches creating a pair of pronounced hips that give the M a sporty attractive appearance, like a more bulbous G sedan.
Our M35h rode on a set of stylish triple-split, five-spoke 18-inch rims wrapped in 245 series rubber that filled the wheel wells nicely, while the bi-xenon HID headlamps were not only an attractive touch, but were a nice touch to the Hybrid’s high tech persona. Aside from the ultra subtle HYBRID badges, no one would know you that you are behind the wheel of one the few gas/electric production cars that can chirp the tires.
2012 Infiniti M35h: Interior
The Infiniti M35h is full of inviting qualities. The hybrid’s intelligent key, courtesy lights and sequential welcome lighting are a few of the ways that the gas/electric luxury sedan warms up to its owner. The inside of the Infiniti M35h gushes elegance and exudes luxury: from our car’s optional Japanese White Ash wood trim with contrasting genuine silver powder accents to the ultra plush leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel and matching front seats with quilted cowhide seatbacks to a suede headliner and a center stack that protrudes from the rest of the dash so that front seat passengers won’t have to inconveniently lean forward to operate the controls.
Speaking of in-car entertainment, the stack consists of an optional AM/FM/XM Bose Premium Audio system that includes a 9.3 GB Music Box to store MP3s, as well as very convenient XM Nav Traffic and Nav Weather, Hard Drive Navigation and Zagat restaurant reviews displayed on an 8-inch touchscreen display . The 16 speaker upgrade even includes a pair of tweeters mounted in the shoulders of the front seats. The power-adjustable heated and cooled Semi-aniline leather wrapped seats and matching tiller made excellent contact points when behind the wheel. In front of the driver sits a set of brightly lit gauges that make for a neat and easy to read binnacle as well as an inviting view of the open road that begs for you to stand on the go pedal as you look out across the bulging front fenders.
There was one feature however that could use a bit of fine tuning. Our Infinti M35h test car came with Forest Air, a system that supposedly pulses the intensity of the air conditioning to simulate a calming forest breeze. While the idea is a great one, Infinti’s engineers designed the unit in a way that seems more like the passenger riding shotgun keeps hitting different buttons as opposed to a smoother oscillating fan effect. Perhaps a rheostat could solve the problem.
2012 Infiniti M35h: The Drive
Despite being one of the few hybrids we’ve driven that has enough power to spin its tires off the line and instantly slap a smile on your face, the one thing you can’t shake is the luxury sedan’s curb weight, which was possibly the only drawback to going electric.
However the heart of the M35h is more than up to the challenge. Based off of Nissan’s award winning 3.5 Liter V6 and an electric motor sandwiched between the engine’s flywheel and the slick shifting seven-speed automatic that replaces the traditional torque converter, allowing the M to travel at speed as a zero emissions battery electric vehicle. The combination is good for a net total of 360 HP and the internal combustion engine produces 258 lb-ft of torque on its own, while the charged spool of wound wired and magnets adds an additional 199 lb-ft of electron induced twist.
Another advantage of this layout is that the V6 can be completely decoupled from the drive train that allows the engine to shut down completely when not in use, further reducing the fuel-robbing parasitic drag caused by pistons pumping air up and down. This helps the M35h to achieve an EPA estimated 27 MPG in the city and as much as 32 MPG on the highway. Now, the M Hybrid is no slouch and without hypermiling, we experienced fuel economy in the low to mid-30 MPG range.
2012 Infiniti M35h: Why to Buy
The 2012 Infiniti M35h is an elegant, full-size luxury machine filled with creature comforts and a more than adequate powertrain, not to mention that it is also priced nicely in the middle of the M lineup between the standard $47,700 M37 and the V8 powered M56, which starts at $59,200. While the M35h starts out at $53,700, with all our test vehicle’s options and destination fees, the final MSRP totaled $61,745 but the added audio and white ash trim were well worth the added spend. The M35h is a full-on four-door with the push of a V8 and the fuel economy of a four cylinder, not to mention that it’s one of the only hybrids that can spin its wheels off the line.
BASE PRICE: $53,700
DELUXE TOURING PACKAGE: $3,800
- Japanese White Ash wood trim with genuine silver powder accents
- Semi-analine leather appointed seating
- Bose digital 5.1 channel 16 speaker Premium Audio system
- Forest Air system
- Suede-like headliner
- Soft double-stitched meter hood
- Power rear sunshade
- PREMIUM PACKAGE: $3,350
- Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation system
- 8 inch VGA color touch screen display with Infinti Voice Recognition
- XM NavTraffic and XM NavWeather
- Zagat Survey retaurant reviews
- Bose 2 channel 10 speaker Premium Audio System with 9.3 GB Music Box hard drive
- Climate controlled front seats
- Heated steering wheel
2012 Infiniti M35h: Why Not To Buy
There are not many reasons to cross the Infiniti M35h off your list when shopping for a luxury hybrid; perhaps the best alternative to the H would be an ordinary Infiniti M. Those cars carry the same sumptuous lines and because they have no need for a lithium ion battery behind the rear seats, trunk space isn’t compromised, which it is heavily on the hybrid. The only other downside with all the electronic goodies, and something our staff experienced firsthand, is that the fancy key fob can run low on juice and leave you stuck like Chuck until help arrives with a tow car or a fully charged spare key.
2012 Infiniti M35h: Final Verdict
The 2012 Infiniti M35h is a hybrid that will definitely put a smile on your face every time you climb behind the wheel. It is a fun car, not so concerned with fuel savings that it impedes performance, and more importantly allows Nissan to boast about packing the power of a V8 with the economy of a four cylinder into their version of full size gas/electric luxury. With over 450 lb-ft of torque coming from the conventional six cylinder and next generation electric motor, our M35h was averaging somewhere in the 30 MPG range on the highway, but the fact that you can cruise around town or even at speed in electric mode, as long as you don’t get too pushy with the gas pedal, is an added bonus. From our cars upgraded Japanese White Ash wood trim to the quilted leather seatbacks, the M35h lives up to the badge that sits at both poles that leaves you looking forward to the next time you climb in to take it for a spin.
“You mean it wasn’t a Jaguar?” [When asking a friend their opinion of riding in the Infiniti M35h]
Car, courtesy of Infiniti
Photos, courtesy of Chris Bormann