2012 Infiniti M Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Infiniti M was new.


Performance: 8.8

Reviewers are impressed with the 2012 Infiniti M’s powerful engine choices and cornering ability, but the M isn’t without a few minor shortcomings. It’s available as the V6-powered M37 or the V8-powered M56, and although the M37 has more than enough power, one reviewer thinks that the V6 transmits too much engine vibration. On a positive note, most auto writers like the M’s handling, commenting that the M37’s light weight makes it slightly more agile than the powerful M56.

  • "Base models, whether rear- or all-wheel drive, exhibited a firm yet comfortably controlled ride. Those with the Sport Package ride rather stiffly over even mild road blemishes, but stop short of being harsh." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Sport model option tries hard to compensate with a stiffer setup but lacks the more directly connected feel of, for instance, the 5-series. A non-Sport M will be plenty comfy for those seeking luxury, though." -- AutoWeek 
  • "At 330 horsepower, I was plenty happy with this smaller engine's performance. I drive a minivan in my real life, so anything over 300 hp causes me to twitch with glee." -- Mother Proof 
  • "The powertrain tuning is refined, but it shows a bit of lash or hesitation when asked to emulate a sports car with snappy on-off inputs." -- MSN 
  • "Infiniti's added a drive mode selector complete with an ‘Eco’ button to the M. All the Eco does is remove all pretensions of throttle response, making the car feel dangerously slow away from the lights unless you floor it." -- Jalopnik  

Acceleration and Power

Two engines are available in the 2012 M, which also designate the trim. The base M37 features a 3.7-liter, 330-horsepower V6, while the M56 comes equipped with a 5.6-liter, 420-horsepower V8. Regardless of which engine you choose, a standard seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode drives the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is an available option on both models. Additionally, Infiniti makes a hybrid version of the M for 2012, which is reviewed separately. If you’re concerned that the M37 won’t have enough power, you shouldn’t be. Most reviewers say that its V6 has more than enough power for most drivers, while the M56’s V8 makes the M downright fast when it comes to straight-line acceleration. However, the automotive press still thinks that there’s some room for improvement. One reviewer says that the M37’s V6 isn’t the smoothest-running powertrain, while another thinks the seven-speed transmission in the M56 constantly hunts for the right gear. If these critiques concern you, make sure that you like the M’s performance by taking it out for a test drive.

According to the EPA, the 2012 M37 gets 18/26 mpg city/highway fuel economy with rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive models get 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The M56 gets 16/24 and 16/23 mpg city/highway for rear- and all-wheel drive models, respectively.

  • "The 7-speed automatic transmission offers normal, sport, economy, and snow settings. Kickdowns are sometimes delayed; they seem to be quicker in the sport setting, but that holds a lower gear at any given speed, reducing fuel economy." -- Consumer Guide
  • "All three powertrains offer the sort of abundant power and acceleration that makes them standouts in their segments." -- Edmunds
  • "When choosing an M, you might think that the V-6's more-than-sufficient power would render it the easy choice, but there's one problem: even the M's standard active noise cancellation system can't come close to drowning out the vviibbrraattiioonnss coming from the VQ-series V-6." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "For most, the M37 provides just the right amount of thrust. And it is engaging, with a sweet V6 howl that only seems to get better with each generation of Infiniti car. But the M56 is the one we want. Its effortless power and torque reminds us why we love V8s. And its enormous thrust makes it far quicker than any previous Infiniti M sedan. The only problem is that the sound of the V8 is muffled. We'd like to have seen louder mufflers bundled with the Sport package on the V8 cars." -- Popular Mechanics 
  • "The Infiniti Drive Mode Selector was great. It's a simple knob between the driver and passenger seats that gives you the option of switching the car into Eco, Snow, Standard or Sport mode as you see fit. The throttle and transmission respond to maximize performance based on what you choose, and the results are impressive." -- Cars.com 
  • "The lack of a manual option makes the M37S sound less like a car for enthusiasts than the 5-series, but the torque converter works so ridiculously well in manual mode and is so smooth when you let if shift gears itself that we actually prefer it to most automated manuals." -- Jalopnik 

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the 2012 Infiniti M handles well. They say that it drives smaller than it actually is, which is always a good thing. Additionally, many test drivers comment that the M37’s lighter weight makes it more fun in the corners than the M56. Choosing the $3,650 Sport Package makes the M handle even better when the road gets twisty. It adds 20-inch wheels, bigger brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and active four-wheel steering, which can turn the rear wheels of the M one degree to make the steering more precise and direct. Some reviewers say that while the larger wheels and stiffer suspension give the M sportier handling, they also make its ride less comfortable.

  • "Even base models exhibit a sporty feel, with good steering response and well-controlled body lean in fast turns. Sport-Package models feel downright racy, aided by their quicker steering ratio, lower-profile tires, stiffer suspension, and rear-wheel steering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The M's biggest flaw is its ride quality, which might be too firm for some luxury-minded shoppers (especially when fitted with the Sport package). Though the Infiniti M has sporting intentions, rivals like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class react to the road with more refined manners." -- Edmunds
  • "The steering is less communicative than we'd like, but it remains precise and predictable, even with optional active four-wheel steering-something even BMW doesn't always get right." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The M's steering proved quick, linear, and communicative." -- Motor Trend  
  • "The handling is still very sporty, the steering precise." -- Popular Mechanics

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