New 2012 M hybrid delivers

Infiniti luxury, V-8 power, I-4 EPA

For the 2012 model year, Infiniti has upped the stakes by adding a hybrid model to its award-winning M series luxury-performance sedan lineup.

The M35 Hybrid  (M35h) combines the luxury and performance that Infiniti is known for and combines it with a state-of-the-art gas/electric hybrid system that provides V-8 power with I-4 fuel economy.

I know, that’s a big statement — especially from a performance standpoint.

But driving is believing.

The M35h, which went on sale earlier this year, delivers acceleration on demand through its hybrid system that utilizes a 3.5-liter V-6 engine along with an electric motor that produces a combine 360 horsepower.

Unlike most hybrid vehicles, the M35h can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 62 mph and in mixed driving, is able to drive in electric only mode for as much as 50 percent of the time.

It is quick, it is nimble, it has lots of get up and go and, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway — not bad at all for a five-passenger luxury-performance sedan.

Mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the M35h was an absolute joy to drive during my weeklong test period.

I didn’t want to give it up.

While drivers will be impressed with its performance, the M35h is also a top tier luxury sedan.

Roomy, quiet and comfortable, the M35h has all of the amenities you would expect from one of the leader luxury brands.

The craftsmanship is absolutely first class. From the materials to the fit and finish, a lot of attention to detail was paid in making the M35h a vehicle that stands out in a crowded parking lot.

To whet your appetite, some of the standard features include a power sliding tinted glass moonroof with sliding sunshade, automatic on/off High Intensity Discharge bi-functional Xenon headlights with windshield wiper interlock, power-folding heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature, rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers and courtesy lamps built into the outside door handles.

The instrument panel features hybrid-unique meters, meter display and IT screen displays providing battery and other system information that allows the driver to view hybrid system information as well as navigation information simultaneously.

There’s also the 10-way power driver and front passenger leather seats that include 2-way power lumbar support and dual occupant memory system for the driver’s seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors.

The M35h also features a standard active noise control system, which generates “canceling” sound from four door speakers to reduce engine and road noise, making it one of the quietest cabins on the road.

With a base price of $53,700, consumers also have their choice of several package options.

The Premium Package ($3,350) adds an Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System, SM NavTraffic with Real-Time traffic information, XM NavWeather with Real-Time Weather and 3-day forecast, Zagat Survey restaurant guide and 9.3 GB Music Box hard drive to go with the upgraded Bose 10-speaker premium audio system and climate controlled seats and steering wheel.

Test drive this car!

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.

MODEL:

2012 Infiniti M35h

5-seat luxury hybrid sedan 

Rear-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$54,000-$70,000

ENGINE:

3.5-liter V6 gas engine combined with advanced electric motor (360 combined horsepower)

TRANSMISSION:

7-speed automatic

EPA: 27 mpg city, 32 mpg highway

FUEL: Premium unleaded

TRACTION CONTROL:

Vehicle dynamic control with traction control system

BRAKES: Electric driven intellegent brake

LENGTH: 194.7 inches

WHEELBASE: 114.2 inches

WIDTH: 72.6 inches

HEIGHT: 59.1 inches

WEIGHT: 4129 lbs.

TRACK: 62/61.8

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 17.8 gallons

TIRES: 18-inch

CARGO: 11.3 cubic feet