Restyled and re-engineered for 2011, Infiniti’s M sedan was offered as an M37 or M56 and was available with either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. There were two engine choices: a 3.7 litre V6 and 5.6 litre V8. This latter powerplant belted out a hefty 420 horsepower, which was up 95 hp from last year’s model, and made the M56 a very quick car indeed. At the launch, Nissan called it a “serious” engine.
The V6, meanwhile, was good for 330 horses, and both engines were mated to a seven speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode and, in the case of the M37, Nissan/Infiniti’s downshift rev matching feature. This automatically matched engine and transmission speeds when downshifting and was also found in the 370Z Roadster.
Both rear-drive models were also available with Nissan’s four-wheel active steering feature, which angles or “steers” the rear wheels up to one per cent during hard cornering. It was part of the Sport Package, which also included upgraded brakes and 20-inch wheels and tires. The optional Infiniti Drive system let the driver, via a console-mounted rotary knob, choose from four performance modes, including an Eco setting, which changed the throttle pedal response and made it “push back” slightly when you wanted to overtake or speed up. Infiniti tagged this feature the “Eco Pedal”, and performance was directly affected when it was in play.
The interior was also on the receiving end of a complete redesign and featured a “tiered” centre stack angled toward the driver, with all-new switchgear.
But arguably what set this breed of Infiniti apart was its “user focused technologies”. Things that pampered the driver and occupants, in other words. And this iteration of the M sedan had plenty. For example, as well as providing an impressive 16-speaker aural experience, the Bose sound system also helped to reduce NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness). If, for example, the engine was revving at 5000 rpm in one of the lower gears, the sound system sensed this and dampened the intruding noise accordingly.
One safety recall to report for the M sedan and it concerns a possible leak in the pressure sensor in the M56’s fuel delivery system. If present, this could lead to an engine fire, but is easily rectified by dealers. This glitch also applies to the 2011 Nissan Juke.
The U.S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has 13 technical bulletins out there for the 2011 M sedan. These include issues with the intelligent key feature, sketchy power windows, “excessive engine braking” after releasing the accelerator, transmission glitches, and various electrical problems. Some complaints registered with NHTSA: “the transmission has major hesitation when accelerating, slowing down and with everyday use”, “difficulty in steering”, “while coming to a stop my car would jump forward”. Electrical gremlins seem to be this vehicle’s nemesis.
Marketing researcher, J.D. Power isn’t too keen on this year of the M sedan, giving it below average grades for overall quality, performance, and design, and just an “average” rating for predicted reliability.
Confusingly, Consumer Reports gives its “Good Bet” seal of approval here, but all is not sweetness and light. The aforementioned Bose sound system, for example, seems to be a steady source of headaches, and blemishes an otherwise above-average dependability performance. The electrical system is also a source of problems, according to C.R., and consequently, the 2011 M sedan rates an “average” used car verdict. Some comments from owners: “ride is jarring over bumps and hard surfaces”, “love the seats”, “everything the serious BMW 5-series shoppers want without the over-priced, horribly (un)reliable BMW badge”.
From a base price in the low $50,000 range in 2011, the M sedan has stopped by about a third….depending upon the model. A base M37, for example, seems to be valued in the high-$20,000 to low-$30,000 neighourhood, with the AWD models fetching some $2000 – $2500 more than their rear-drive counterparts. For the M56, add another $8000 to $10,000, an additional $5000 for the AWD models.
2011 Infiniti M sedan
Original Base Price: $52,400 – $73,400; Black Book: $37,125 – $51,750 Red Book: $28,400 – $42,125
Engine: 3.7 litre V6 & 5.6 litre V8
Horsepower/Torque: 330 hp / 270 ft. lb. & 420 hp / 417 ft. lb.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic w. manual shift mode
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.4 city/7.6 hwy (M37 RWD). Regular/Premium gas.
Alternatives: BMW 5-series, Audi A6, Lexus GS, Mercedes E-class, Cadillac STS, Acura RL.