Full Test: 2003 Infiniti M45

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 8, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Where "M" Stands for More Power

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    By Kelly Stennick
    Date posted: 05-06-2003

    Introspective car enthusiasts occasionally sit pondering the significance of a new car model's name. Some auto manufacturers assign self-explanatory labels, such as Ford with its sport-utility lineup of Excursion, Expedition, Explorer and Escape. Other popular choices are contrived in numerical or alphabetical order; for instance BMW's 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series, or the Mercedes-Benz family of C230, E320 and S500.

    Like BMW and Mercedes, Infiniti's 2002 lineup of G20, I35 and Q45 sedans seems to make some sort of alphabetical and numerical sense, even if you don't know exactly what the letter stands for. If you've been reciting the alphabet since you were just a little pup, you may recall that there are exactly seven letters between "I" and "Q," and in the automotive world, that may be just enough room for a new model to penetrate the market.

    Enter the 2003 Infiniti M45. Pricewise the M45 falls between the midlevel Infiniti I35 and top-of-the-line Q45, but as a sport sedan, the M settles in nicely between the G35 and Q45.

    Like the G and Q, the M45 is a rear-wheel-drive sedan. Under the hood lurks the same 4.5-liter V8 engine that powers the larger Q45, which produces 340 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque. M45 competitor, the Lexus GS 430, also provides a V8 engine, but the 4.3-liter makes a lesser 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. As the Q is over 100 pounds heavier than the M, it's easier to feel the M's V8 pull, but we still found the M a little soft off the line. During performance testing, the M45 registered a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.4 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.8 seconds at 95.5 miles per hour. With 340 hp, we feel the opening takeoff should be a little quicker, but after the initial lag, the power band is especially steady without noticeable peak or lag. Real-world drivers should find the M plenty powerful during everyday driving.

    The M45's engine is paired with a standard five-speed automatic transmission with automanual capability. We found the transmission reasonably agreeable, however, upshifts were a bit abrupt with a slight surge, and downshifts weren't always quick with the pedal.

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    Braking performance was satisfactory on Infiniti's latest offering, but we wouldn't call it class-leading. We thought the brakes exhibited good pedal feel and were easy to modulate, but our test-driver thought that the brake pedal felt a bit squishy near the bottom of its travel. Consecutive braking distances of 117.8 feet, 121.2 feet and 122.5 feet in 60-to-0-mph emergency stops demonstrated that brake fade was a minimal issue for the M45's four-wheel ventilated discs.

    In terms of handling, the M's chassis is definitely tightened up compared to the big Q45 cruiser. During our testing, the M displayed fine body control, remaining very flat and stable on windy winding roads, and its 18-inch Bridgestone tires always stayed planted on the pavement. Still, with a curb weight of over 3,800 pounds, the car feels kind of heavy around turns, and not as lively and tossable as a BMW 5 Series. Further, the M45's speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering offered respectable weighting for a luxury car, but probably not as much as you would want in a true sport sedan. Should you push a bit hard on back roads, the M45's standard stability control system (called VDC) will step in and get you back on track.

    While cruising down the freeway, we were pleased to find ourselves in a very solidly constructed, peaceful cabin, free of any unwelcome wind or road noise. This pleasant realization reminded us that while Infiniti marketing is pushing a true sports car image for the M45, we still find it to be first and foremost a luxury vehicle, including most of the features typically found on high-dollar models. Our test car even had an easy-to-operate intelligent cruise control system, which uses lasers to detect vehicles ahead, and then automatically paces the M45 behind traffic at a selected distance.

    Fine leather covered all seating surfaces in the M45, including the supportive sport-contoured front buckets. A 10-way power-adjustable driver seat and four-way power passenger seat come standard on the M. Ten-way adjustability should offer supreme driving comfort, but instead we found ourselves constantly fiddling with the seat controls in an attempt to find a desirable position. Our test car had the optional driver seat memory, so once we did manage to make all of the subtle adjustments to reach driver-seat nirvana, we were pleased to be brought back to our last position when we reentered the car.

    Another option on our loaded-up M45 test car was climate-controlled front seats. These seats not only warm you, they're also engineered to cool you down when it's hot. Each front seat has its own heat/cool control switch with a four-setting dial, allowing fine-tuning during heating and cooling efforts. Heated seats are one of our favorite luxury items, and we found ourselves enjoying the M45's soothing warmth on long commutes to the office, and while buzzing around town on chilly evenings. The M's seat cooling function however was not as beneficial. The cool air wasn't nearly as noticeable as the warming function, and the buzz from the fan was obvious, prompting each new driver that climbed into the cabin to ask, "What's that noise?"

    Front-seat legroom was on par with competitor Audi A6, but the Audi bested the M45 in rear legroom by nearly five additional inches. Surprisingly, the smaller Infiniti G35 is over 10 inches shorter than the M45, yet it has almost four more inches in rear legroom. Some might think that a couple mere inches couldn't possibly make much of a difference in passenger comfort, but if you're looking to put more than a petite-to-average person in the M45's rear seat, don't expect them to go quietly. A bit more toe room can make all of the difference when it comes to the passenger's appreciation during a long drive.

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    Standard trim inside the M45 includes bird's eye maple in a smoke graphite color, but our test car had been upgraded to a traditional maple-colored wood for an additional $300. We think the natural wood color provides more of a classy, luxury look that we prefer to the sportier appeal of the standard smoke-colored trim.

    The M45's interior is well-appointed, but it suffers somewhat from the placement of the controls on the center stack. The center stack provides dials for automatic driver and passenger climate control and stereo volume, but the spacing and ultimate position of the dials are somewhat irritating. The volume control is on the far right of the stack, near the passenger-side climate knob, which makes for an uncomfortable reach from the driver seat. At least Infiniti offers steering wheel audio controls to help alleviate this issue.

    Another cause for consternation is the standard, yet complicated, multifunctional vehicle information system that uses the same Infiniti voice recognition system found in the Q45. While using the voice recognition saves some of the hassle of toiling with the vehicle information system, using the system without voice can be frustrating. In order to reduce the fan speed manually, or change the radio station, you must go through at least a layer or two of options on the large color LCD screen, which is not easy to do while you're driving down the road.

    The overall look of the wide center stack isn't as elegant as it could be, and seems out of place positioned above the trademark Infiniti analog clock. While the M45 is blessed with a standard 225-watt Bose audio system with AM/FM/cassette, we have a hard time understanding why Infiniti chose to keep the cassette player in the stack instead of installing at least a single in-dash CD player. As it is, the six-disc CD changer is mounted inconveniently in the glovebox.

    In spite of its minor list of shortcomings, there is no denying that the M45 gives you serious bang for your buck. With other standard luxury items such as one-touch up-down power windows, xenon headlights, electrochromic mirrors and heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down on the driver side, this car is loaded to the gills. With a base price of only $42,300, it's possible to bring the M45 up yet another level by adding three different option packages — Comfort and Convenience, Technology and Premium — and still not hit the base price of the BMW 540i.

    There are some who might say that the thrill of the BMW driving experience is worth the $9,500 premium you'll pay for the 540i, or that the E500's additional $12,550 is worth it for a Mercedes-Benz nameplate. But if you're willing to go Japanese over German and money is of some consequence, we strongly recommend spending some time with your right foot firmly planted on the M45's accelerator pedal, because it offers plenty of power, shrouded in a luxury persona, at a more affordable price.

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    Ups: Plenty of smooth power, long list of standard features, low base price for a V8 luxury sedan.

    Downs: Poor gas mileage, lack of rear-seat legroom, complicated center stack controls.

    The Bottom Line: So fast, you'll hardly even notice that it's not a BMW.

    MSRP of Test Vehicle: $50,055

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  2. That's pretty expensive... but cool I guess.
     
  3. Nismo4090

    Nismo4090 Back in Black

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    i like them a lot but black is not the best color for that car
     
  4. Ben

    Ben Guest

    Niec stuff for the money, but it's not pretty.
     
  5. Ben

    Ben Guest

    You should see the price of the competition :eek:
     
  6. mucky

    mucky .

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    I saw one the other day in front of me, looks pretty :cool:, until I saw the front. :ugh: That grill is ugly and ruins a decent looking car.
     
  7. White Stormy

    White Stormy Take that, subspace!

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    silver >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> black

    and lack of leg room? :confused:

    I got in the front and adjusted the seat where I would have it.. then got in the back behind it and I was very comfortable.

    and I'm not a little guy.
     
  8. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Yay.

    Another watered down JDM Nissan courtesy of Nissan of America. :sleep:
     
  9. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    Its still ugly :(.

    Nissan did so well with the G35 and then they turned out this piece of crap :o.
     
  10. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    That car came way before the G35, in case you didn't know.
     
  11. White Stormy

    White Stormy Take that, subspace!

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    at the Atl Auto Show they were next to each other.. and the G35 really made the M45 look better :o

    G35 is amazing.. I love that car.
     
  12. bioyuki

    bioyuki Ich habe Angst

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    Yeah it looks like it came straight from the 80s. Sure it came out first in Japan but it came out much later here and thats what counts.
     
  13. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    America never counts.
    Don't forget that.
     
  14. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    The the smaller G35 has more in the back.
     
  15. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    Hmm, looks like a rehash of the last gen Q with a bigger engine. Nice, but not 50K nice. 40K nice, maybe.
     
  16. guitaraus

    guitaraus Guest

    That pretty much sums up Nissan in a sentence, doesn't it? :o
     
  17. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo Guest

    Doesn't look like a muscle car. :dunno:
     
  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :werd:

    It'd be a Hell of a deal for even a few grand less optioned out.
     
  19. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo Guest

    G35c > M45

    in looks.
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I think it's more the front bumper than the grille.

    It has a massive, truck-like bumper up front... it almost looks like the car is smiling.

    :hs:
     
  21. Ben

    Ben Guest

    luckily the Z car has no grill :o
     
  22. iZero

    iZero Guest

    Hey, for $42,000 there isn't anything out there that offers the power and the luxury of the M45. You can get a 200-some horsepower competitor and still end up spending more for it. I thought the M45 was really nice inside, I'd say it's most like a LS430. Someone at a show asked me why they changed the name of the Q45 to M45. I pointed to the Q45 a few cars over and said, they still make it. People seemed convinced this car could pass for the top-dog Infiniti model, yet it's priced (relatively) reasonably.
     
  23. IEATPUPPIES

    IEATPUPPIES Guest



    dont worry, the ass end fucked it up enough.
     
  24. Sonic

    Sonic Live every day to the fullest, for yesterday is go

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    The GS430 is another comparision, and a good one too.
     
  25. iZero

    iZero Guest

    In Japan the Cedrec and Gloria comes with the VQ30DET, VQ30DD, VQ25DD, and an AWD RB25DET. A CVT is optional. I don't think the VK45DE is a terrible engine to be "burdened" with overall however.
     

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