2010 Infiniti M Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Infiniti M was new.


Performance: 9.1

The Infiniti M may not look as aggressive as the BMW 5-Series, but it gives that car a run for its money on a test track. Reviewers love its tight handling, strong brakes and the way its smooth transmission makes power delivery seamless. But there are several cautions buyers should keep in mind when considering this car. The first is that the ride may be too firm for some – those looking for a luxury car they don’t have to think much about while driving might want to look toward the Lexus GS or Lincoln MKS instead. The second is that there are two M models to choose from – the V6-powered M35 and the V8-powered M45 but many reviewers say the power advantage enjoyed by the M45 isn’t worth the extra cost.

  • "M35 models have plenty of power, even with the added weight of AWD…Rear-drive M45s are fast by any measure. A test example ran from 0-60 mph in just 6.0 seconds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Considering the M35's superb handling capabilities, the ride quality is surprisingly comfortable and compliant, though some with a penchant for full-luxury cars may find it a bit harsh, especially when equipped with the sport package." -- Edmunds
  • The M35 "exhibits all of the handling chops of the smaller G, if not more," but drivers "have to keep an eye on the speedometer to have any sense of speed." -- Cars.com

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Infiniti M is sold as the M35, with a 3.5-liter V6 making 303 horsepower, or as the M45 with a more powerful 4.5-liter V8 making 325 horsepower. Both engines are smooth, but reviewers say there is surprisingly little difference between the two. Fuel economy is a bit of a tie-breaker. The V6 doesn't save much at the pump when compared to the large engine. The EPA estimates that the M35 will get 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. The M45 gets16 in the city and 21 on the highway. All-Wheel-Drive X editions of each car pay a slight penalty in mpg. With just a 22 horsepower advantage, a fuel-economy disadvantage and a higher price, the M45 may not make sense for many buyers. 

The M comes with just one transmission, a five-speed automatic with a manual shift mode. Reviewers say that its manual mode responds more quickly than most.

  • "The V-8 is barely more powerful than the six." -- Car and Driver
  • "Its manual-shift feature is quicker to react to driver inputs than similar systems in rival vehicles." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Infiniti M35…should provide plenty of power for most drivers. For the few who desire a bit more oomph, there's always the V8-equipped M45." -- Edmunds
  • "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

Handling and Braking

Most cars at this price point are powered by exceptional engines. What sets them apart is more often their suspension, steering and braking – the components that work in balance to make a car sporty or gentle, easy-to-drive or involving. The 2010 M leads decidedly toward sporty. Reviewers say its ride and handling are tight, its brakes strong and its ride firm. That makes it an engaging drive, perfect for those who are attracted to sport sedans like the BMW 5-Series. Those interested in a cushy ride might be more satisfied with a Lexus GS or Acura RL. The car’s ride is firm to begin with, but an optional Sport package sets the suspension so stiff that some reviewers complain the car is harsh – only driving enthusiasts should consider spending the extra money for that.

  • "Generally confident and balanced, with minimal cornering lean. Steering feel can seem heavy and slightly unnatural feeling in turns. With the Sport Package, the tires tend to follow most ruts and pavement imperfections. Braking is strong and confident.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Quick responses, strong brakes." -- Car and Driver
  • "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
  • "Powerful brakes are controlled by easily modulated pedal and feature brake assist and electronic brake force distribution for panic stops." -- Chicago Sun-Times

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