Mercedes and BMW in South Africa have just taken another salvo from Nissan’s luxury big-gun brand Infiniti with the launch of the Infiniti M sedans – full-house big cars with a choice of two engines.
Infiniti M cars: War declared!
Oh yes, and several versions at various specification levels – standard, GT, GT Premium, S and S premium – depends on how high your aspiration levels are... and how deep your pockets.
The prices are further down this item...
DIESEL NOW, PETROL LATER
War might not have officially been declared - indeed the Big Two may not have taken much notice - but the pushy Japanese automaker that’s aiming for the E-Class and 5 Series respectively (and perhaps Lexus, Audi and Volvo) is gradually adding to its troops on the beachheads established by the FX and EX SUV’s and G Cabrio and Coupe.
Three-litre V6 M30D diesels are immediately available; a 3.7-litre V6 petrol is in the pipeline for introduction in early January 2013. The diesel, while sounding a trifle agricultural from outside the cabin, is unheard once the doors are closed and the wheels are turning as it goes about its business of generating 175kW at 3750rpm and a whopping 550Nm of torque from only 1750rpm.
It, like the M37 petrol models to come, drives through a seven-speed auto box (some models with magnesium paddle shifts on the steering-wheel) and while the kW’s are not startling, the powerful diesel torque thrust is fairly awesome. Infiniti claims 6.9sec to 100km/h.
The petrol model we didn’t get to drive at the launch but its 3696cc V6 puts out 235kW at 7000rpm and 260Nm at 5200rpm and will hit three figures 0.7sec quicker than the diesel – but, given that the target market for both cars is +55 and either professional or retired, their buyers are hardly likely to care.
Infiniti M car video
And, given that they’ll probably be experienced drivers, they’ll know how much fun there is to be had with a powerful REAR-wheel drive car, as all units are. Indeed, Infiniti’s motto is “inspirational performance” – helped by dynamic braking through corners “to improve fluidity”.
There are also four selectable driving modes: ‘standard’, ‘eco’ (with green or orange lights to indicate how well or poorly you are conserving fuel), ‘sport’ (you’ll feel the extra urge) and ‘snow’ – though in SA that’s going to be useful in Highveld downpours when traction gets iffy).
‘Eco’ mode, with a gentle “push back” resistance from the accelerator pedal, will tell you when you’re overdoing things – a system claimed to be the first in the world.
The performance selling point is why Infiniti is one of the major sponsors of the Red Bull F1 racing teams.
The styling is along the lines of the LE zero-emissions electric concept launched at the recent Paris auto show and the Essence concept shown at Geneva two years earlier. The LE, the importer says, is likely to arrive in South Africa in the next two years. Also likely for SA is the M35h hybrid.
The M cars will also be available with various levels of Tracker security systems, right up to the top end which will automatically call for assistance should the vehicle be in a collision.
Indeed, it was revealed at this week’s launch that the tracking systems have been installed in all Infiniti models already sold in SA. The ‘secret’ installation was not trumpeted for legal reasons involving buyers’ privacy; activation by a dealer is required and about 30% of owners opted for this.
Vinola Pillay, Infiniti SA’s senior communications manager, describes the M cars as being among the most spacious in their segment... “with the driver at the mid-point and a sporty, coupe-like exterior”.
A Bose sound system, a “dynamic shield” that involves parking radar, following-distance cruise control with forward collision warning and blind-spot warnings, and a ‘Forest air’ diffuser addition to the aircon are available according to model level chosen.
Much of the just under five-metre long car is constructed of lightweight aluminium and the cars have a drag co-efficient of only 0.27, with claimed zero lift. The cabin uses “the finest natural materials, including semi-aniline leather, real wood and metal” to “appeal to all five senses”.
Safety, naturally, was a major feature in the M cars’ design. There are six air bags are on offer, active front head restraints and IsoFix child seat anchors. Anti-lock brakes with electronic pressure distribution, electronic stability control, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, auto headlights and auto-dimming rear-view mirror and tilting side mirrors (when reversing) come with the package.
S and S Premium models get all-wheel steering.
Standard specification in the entry-level Infiniti M30d GT sedan includes 18” alloy rims, auto-levelling bi-xenon headlights with washers, adaptive front and follow-me-home lights, LED tail lights, front and rear fog lights, front and rear parking sensors coupled to a rear-view camera, a soft-closing powered boot lid, powered driver and front seats with electric lumbar adjustment.
Also standard are heatable and ventilated front seats, power steering column adjustment, a multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and keyless access with a memory function for the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, audio, side mirror and climate control settings (an expression, the automakers says “of Infiniti hospitality”).
A power glass sunroof, full-colour 20cm touch screen interface and a 2GB hard disc Infiniti ‘Music Box’ linked to a single CD/DVD front-loader (with MP3, WMA and DivX compatibility) and a USB/aux port, with six “active noise control” speakers are also standard.
The M30d S spec adds the all-wheel active steering, sports suspension, 20” alloy rims, sports seats, black lacquer trim and aluminium pedals and darkened headlight housings and a sportier front bumper identify the model externally.
All Infiniti vehicles are covered by a comprehensive warranty that covers the first three years or 100 000 km of ownership and a five-year or 100 000 km maintenance plan is standard – as is a 24/7 roadside assistance programme.
Infiniti M30d diesel
GT - R671 000
GT Premium - R728 051
GT S - R695 254
GT Premium S - R752 305
Infiniti M37 petrol (from Jan 2013)
GT - R649 000
GT Premium - R706 051
GT S Premium - R730 305
For more information on the Infiniti M, click here.