2009 Infiniti M Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Infiniti M was new.


Performance: 9.2

The M is one of the tighter performance cars in the large luxury segment. The 3.5-liter V6-powered M35 is enough for most drivers, but the 4.5-liter V8-driven M45 will satisfy those who want to get to highway speed in six seconds or less. Those just looking for a comfortable commuter car, though, might want something a little less sport-oriented. Infiniti built this car to take on BMW at the track, not to outshine Lexus for slow-driving comfort.

  • "Although we generally find it to our liking, consumers with a comfort bias may find the steering and suspension feedback a bit harsh around town, especially in even firmer Sport Package models." -- Edmunds
  • The M35 "exhibits all of the handling chops of the smaller G, if not more,"but "have to keep an eye on the speedometer to have any sense of speed." -- Cars.com
  • "I've reviewed a lot of cars in the past 15 years, and while Bimmer and Lexus fans may disagree, this Infiniti M is one of the best I've ever driven." --BusinessWeek

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Infiniti M35 carries a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 303 horsepower. That model has more than enough thrust for most drivers. The more powerful 4.5-liter M45, with its 325 horsepower V8, offers more low-end torque for a faster burst off the line. One factor you might expect to help decide between the two is fuel economy. Surprisingly, there's not much of a difference. The V6 doesn't save much at the pump when compared to the large engine. The EPA estimates that the M35 will get 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. The M45 gets the same 16 in the city and just one mpg less in highway driving. All-wheel drive 'x' editions get even less. Each model comes in rear- or all-wheel drive. RWD models have a new seven-speed automatic transmission, while other editions use a five-speed. 

  • "Now that the M35's V-6 makes only a few fewer ponies than the V-8-powered M45, you might think that the eight-cylinder M is obsolete. Not so much - this is the Infiniti I would buy. The M45's 4.5-liter V-8 makes 74 lb-ft of additional torque, for a total of 336 lb-ft compared with the M35's 262 lb-ft. Much, much more important: whereas the V-6 is buzzy and coarse at high rpm, the V-8 is one of the best-sounding, smoothest V-8s on the planet." -- Automobile Magazine
  • The M35's V6 "pushes the car around with relative ease, never feeling overmatched, and its acceleration proves entirely adequate." -- Car and Driver
  • The "five-speed automatic delivers quick, short shifts that, from a standing start, help launch the M with a sense of urgency rarely found in a large sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Rear-drive M45s are fast by any measure. A test example ran from 0-60 mph in just 6.0 seconds. The 5-speed automatic transmission sometimes pauses indecisively on downshifts. Its manual-shift feature is quicker to react to drive inputs than similar systems in rival vehicles." -- Consumer Guide
  • The M45 "jumps and howls under throttle yet with a refinement that makes you think more of a corporate jet than a muscle car." -- The Arizona Republic

Handling and Braking

The automotive press considers the M a performance-tuned car because of its tight handling, and the grip that AWD models exhibit in hard cornering. An available Sport package firms up the suspension, but reviewers say non-sport models are firmer than many rivals to begin with. For that reason, a few find the M's ride harsh, but others say the car makes a smooth daily driver. This is one you'll have to test drive to know whether the car's character suits you.

  • "Confident and balanced, with minimal cornering lean. Steering feel is generally sporty and precise, but it can seem heavy and slightly unnatural feeling in turns. Braking is strong and confident." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Crisp handling without an unduly harsh ride." -- Forbes
  • "Even the base M35 delivers body control and steering feedback that are at least equal to those of the Audi and the Mercedes, which is to say quite good but a little soft, and the chassis is more tied to the task of hard driving than is that of the front-wheel-drive-biased Acura." -- Automobile Magazine
  • The M35 "will commute and tour with a surprising degree of civility, offering a pretty compliant and quiet ride on most roads." -- Car and Driver
  • "Powerful brakes are controlled by easily modulated pedal and feature brake assist and electronic brake force distribution for panic stops." -- Chicago Sun-Times
  • "The AWD system itself is not as smooth or seamless as those in some other luxury cars, like Audis. During hard bursts of acceleration, the front wheels can generate a front-wheel drive-style torque-steer effect, in which power from the engine twists the steering wheel in the driver's hands." -- New Car Test Drive

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