2009 Infiniti M45
The luxury sedan segment is jam-packed with entrants boasting amazing V-8 engines, beautifully crafted interior cabins, a million and one standard options and aggressively elegant body designs. Seasoned veterans like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi fill the ranks, making it difficult for others to edge into the competition. But this is where the 2009 Infiniti M45 develops a surprising advantage. Big names tend to equate to big prices, which means the M45 easily undercuts the cost of the opposition. While doing so, it retains a high standard of sophistication and fit and finish. Technology is abundant with optional systems like adaptive cruise control and lane departure prevention, though, as the segment demands, there are more than enough standard features offered at the base price. Its powerful 4.5-liter V-8 does tend to run thirstier than others of equal size and the drive experience can’t match that of a BMW 5-Series, but the overall feeling we get after driving the furiously fun M45 is nothing short of undeniable infatuation. Imagine how we would feel if we actually owned one.
What's to Like
The sonorous V-8 will jump start any heartbeat and smoothly and quickly follows the throttle's every command. Most trimmings are standard except for a few technology and comfort packages, meaning the price can be kept down to reasonable levels. If two-wheel drive isn't enough, the M45x model sends power to all four wheels.
What's Not to Like
If you opt for the Lane Departure Warning safety feature, which audibly alerts you when the car drifts across lanes, know that it is reactivated every time the car turns on – those beeps get very annoying very fast. The instrument panel is too cluttered and unorganized; for one function alone, controls can appear in a variety of places.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
In keeping with Infiniti’s ethos of sporty driving, the M45’s firmer suspension means the sedan rides a bit rougher along city streets than some of its competitors. Rest assured that this is only to ensure superior damping and control during more inspired driving. The M45’s other components also uphold this kind of quality. The engine, a feisty V-8, is happy to blat out power 'til the cows come home, and high speeds are where it really hits its stride. Try to resist crying out in joy when you hear the V-8 fully open – its deep rumbling is unbelievably perfect. The transmission aptly handles the copious amounts of torque by using rev matching technology to downshift seamlessly, though we’re waiting impatiently for an upgrade to the new seven-speed auto. But see if you care once the shift knob is slipped over to Sport mode to allow the transmission to keep the revs going skyward until redline. Road noise is kept to a minimum, as one would expect on a $52,000 luxury car, and the seats snugly fit any size of driver. One area not up to par is the steering, which we found to lack directness and proper weighting at times.
Engine and Drivetrain
To distinguish itself from its more modestly powered brethren, the 303 hp M35, the rear-wheel drive M45 boosts its power with a 4.5-liter V-8 to 325 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and downshift rev matching. Titanium intake and exhaust valves have also been added to the vehicle for increased performance. The M45x features an all-wheel drive system, which sends power to specific wheels depending on the road conditions.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
An optional technology package includes a potent Bose 8-speaker audio system with CD player, 9.3 GB Music Box hard drive and Compact Flash slot for playing MP3s. If an iPod is connected, the system also interfaces with it via the eight-inch display screen. Satellite real-time traffic can be had for a monthly fee as well. Since the amount of rear legroom matches that of anyone's living room sectional, it makes sense to include a DVD system with an eight-inch monitor, remote control and wireless headphones.
Key Technology Evaluation
Infiniti reinterprets safety in a new way with two systems that work to actively keep passengers alert. Lane Departure Warning will sound an audible alert if you drift out of your lane, enabling you to correct the error. Lane Departure Prevention takes the warning a step further and will apply the brakes to navigate the car back into the lane. The system only activates if the wheel hasn’t been purposely turned, so you’ll still be allowed to change lanes.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The addition of an extra gear or two would benefit the LEV-II emissions rated M45, which gets a fairly dismal 16 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway in rear-wheel drive. The more powerful Lexus GS 460 manages 17/24. And we won't even get started on the heavier all-wheel drive model, which gets just 14/20. Ouch!
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
After getting over the initial feeling that you've set foot in a button factory, the M45's interior becomes quite inviting. The rear seats fit three across comfortably and trunk space is in abundance. No need to check any option boxes for the standard Bluetooth connectivity, leather and ten-way power seats, wood trim, satellite radio and speed sensitive volume.
Infiniti – and the Nissan brand as a whole – prides itself on dynamic and intriguing design elements. Despite being the tamest model in the line, the elegant M45 manages to stand out in its own way by sporting chrome tipped dual exhaust, deep set headlamps and five-spoke, 18-inch wheels.
Market Segment and Pricing
As we’ve mentioned before, the most winning characteristic of the M45 is its $52,150 starting price. Packages begin at $1,500 to help ease the price up closer to the mid-50s, but this Infiniti still low-balls a competition field that includes the $60,400 BMW 550i, $61,700 Mercedes Benz E550, $53,320 Lexus GS 460, $60,950 Audi A6 and $55,910 Cadillac STS
What We Think
Regardless of the excellent price difference between the M45 and its direct competition, buyers seem to overlook this beautifully crafted car. Big mistake. It has everything going for it – room to fit five comfortably, a choice of tech options to fit a driver’s lifestyle, a powerful engine and unique design attributes that allow the car to stand out from the pack. The Infiniti M45 is a car to put on a pedestal, not one to relegate to a dark corner.