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If the Infiniti M56 were a figure in ancient Greek legend, it might be an Amazon - one of the strong, muscular and beautiful female warriors who fought with the Trojans. This motoring machine is both curvy and sleek, and it has sculpted shoulders. Fashioned with a whittled waist and commanding hindquarters, it is powered by a fierce V-8 engine and silky-smooth, seven-speed automatic transmission. Bottom line: I wouldn’t mind being stranded on an Aegean island driving nothing but this vehicle.
The 2012 Infiniti M56 carries forward the M nameplate used since 1990 on various mid-luxury models by Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division. The 4-door, 5-passenger M56 is likely priced shopped against the BMW 550i, the Lexus GS 460 and Mercedes-E550 Sedan among other luxury sport sedans in this segment.
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Not new, but definitely updated
The Infiniti M lineup was reintroduced last year after a hiatus with cars in this class. The 2012 Infiniti M56 isn’t a brand-new iteration, but an update to last year’s all-new model and a hail to the popular, sporty M line-up. There are a few minor changes to options packages as well as the significant addition of a hybrid drivetrain to the Infiniti stable.
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What we drove
We were behind the wheel of the rear-drive 2012 Infiniti M56 luxury sedan. Our ride was under-the-radar-colored Platinum Graphite; the cockpit was trimmed in Stone, with top-of-the-line semi-aniline leather appointments, along with Japanese White Ash wood inlays with genuine silver powder accents—with a “Forest-Air” system - think woodland air freshener on a grand scale!
We loved the sprightly drive of the M56 that sheds the bad rap for tricky traction that some rear-drivers bring along for the ride. We also enjoyed the crisp shifting auto tranny and the option to use the manual-shift mode that matches the engine’s revs with downshifts, giving exciting, smooth shifts that bring the sound of “blipping the throttle” when driving in a spirited fashion. The Infiniti’s brakes are confidence-inspiring and the sedan is loaded with all the latest sound, navigational, safety and vehicle technologies that you would expect of a vehicle in this class.
Starting at $59,100, our M56 sedan had plenty of options and was priced at $67, 425 including the $875 destination fee. On board were the Luxury Options Package; Deluxe Touring Package and an 18-inch Wheel Package. Fuel economy is EPA rated at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
The 2012 Infiniti M56 starts at $59,100; Choosing the all-wheel-drive M56x, prices start at $61,600, while the added fuel economy of the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid starts at $53, 700.
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Strength by the numbers
The 2012 Infiniti M56 is one of three models in the M line-up with the other two model being the M35 Hybrid and the base M37. The M56 is motivated by a V-8 that makes 420 horsepower and 417 pound-feet of torque, and it is mated to a fuel-saving, seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Rear-drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available (this version is designated by a 56x badge). The hybrid model has a V-6 that delivers 320 horsepower and is rated at 32 mpg.
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The large, cushy cockpit of the 2012 Infiniti M56 is made exceptionally comfortable and convenient through features like 10-way power adjustments for the driver and front passenger seats that can be heated and cooled, and Intelligent Keys, which are sort of like individual thumb-drives that store information about seat positions, climate control settings, audio preferences and navigation information for each driver. A heated steering wheel, Bluetooth and a rearview monitor also are standard.
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More than a pretty face
Although the 2012 Infiniti M56 looks gorgeous, its sweeping waves of sheet metal add up to more than a pretty face. The M56 has a low coefficient of drag (0.27), and it makes good elbow room for five passengers along with the ability to store their gear in a large trunk which has a pass-through to the rear seat for long items such as skis. The headlamps have a crystal-like sparkle, and the trunk shape has been crafted to work like a spoiler. A power moonroof and automatic on/off headlights are standard, as are 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels (20-inch wheels come with the Sport option package).
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The 2012 Infiniti M56 is engineered with a dial switch on the center console that allows drivers to select from four driving modes: Standard, Eco, Sport or Snow. The ancient Greeks couldn’t have prophesied the kind of auto-pilot technologies offered through the M including a feature in the $3,000 Technology Package which gives slight pushback on the driver’s foot through the accelerator pedal if he or she is driving inefficiently.
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