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Infiniti M30d S Premium

Click to view picture gallery“Sharp-eyed viewers who watched
  the F1 Australian Grand Prix might
  have spotted ‘Infiniti’ branding on the
  Red Bull Racing Renault team cars
  — Infiniti’s road cars aren’t quite
as quick...”

in 19 markets across Europe and the US, China, the Middle East and Russia, Nissan's premium brand Infiniti is on track to sell more than 145,000 cars worldwide this year 4,400 of those in Western Europe. More growth will follow by 2013 with a further 25 worldwide markets taking the premium brand products.

In the UK, the first Infiniti models arrived at the end of 2009 and sales were 232 units in 2010, partly restricted by only having large-capacity, high-performance petrol engines on offer. This year, bolstered by the arrival of a Renault-Nissan sourced 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine option for three of the brand's four model ranges, Infiniti UK sales are expected to be in the region of 400 units (the UK is currently the third largest Western European market for Infiniti behind Italy and Germany).

Infiniti currently has just four UK centres (Reading, Piccadilly London, Birmingham and Glasgow) but more are coming on stream this summer sees a Stockport location open; Leeds will follow in the autumn and a site in North London will be operational by the end of the year. The optimum number of Infiniti centres for the UK is 12 by 2013 and this will include a major facility in the Bristol area.

The Infiniti models are
all about high-
specification, high-
performance and fully-
executive cars appealing
to celebrities, VIPs,
heads of industry and
the like
The Infiniti models are all about high-specification, high-performance and fully-equipped-as-standard executive cars appealing to celebrities, VIPs, heads of industry and so on all types of users, in fact, who want something a bit different and potentially exclusive or at least rare.

The cars all have bold styling with huge road presence and there are very few extra-cost options needed or indeed offered as they are fully equipped as standard.

The 2011 range consists of the G Line Saloon, Coupe and Convertible models powered with one common 315bhp 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine with an automatic transmission. Updated for the new model year, these models do not offer the new 3.0-litre diesel engine option as the relatively long-in-the-tooth range was never conceived to accommodate diesel power. As an example for size and sales positioning, the 'G' cars compete against the BMW 3 Series. The next generation models, likely in 2013, will offer both petrol and diesel power options.

Next in the line-up is the M saloon range with the same 315bhp petrol engine option but now also available with the Renault-Nissan alliance 235bhp/405lb ft 3.0 V6 turbodiesel unit. A V6 petrol/electric hybrid version is scheduled to appear soon. This range competes against the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF.

Going further up-range is the EX compact 4x4 line-up (think BMW X3 or Audi Q5 in size), also offered with 3.7-litre petrol or 3.0 turbodiesel engines. This is probably the most interesting and nicest to drive Infiniti on the market at this moment in time.

Topping out the brand is the FX large 4x4 range not an off-roader but more a road-going luxurious sports model competing against the BMW X5/X6, Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. Again, the same two engines are on offer plus a 385bhp 5.0-litre V8 petrol unit.

Out of the 400 Infiniti new cars expected to be sold in the UK this year, half of that total will be for the FX versions; the M saloons will take around 100 sales and the EX/G Line models around a 100 units between them. Small fry so far as total premium car UK sales go but nevertheless big on image for buyers who go for exclusivity.

The new Infiniti M
competes against other
four-door executive
saloons such as the
Jaguar XF, BMW 5 Series
and the new Audi A6 —
and now it is also
available with Infiniti’s
first diesel engine
The new Infiniti M competes against other four-door executive saloons such as the Jaguar XF, BMW 5 Series and the new Audi A6 and, as already mentioned, it's now also available with Infiniti's first diesel engine option the Renault-Nissan sourced 235bhp 3.0-litre V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission as standard. Understandably, the vast majority will be ordered with the diesel unit rather than the 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine.

Both engines are available with the choice of GT, S, GT Premium and S Premium specification but most customers choose the top level version Infiniti M. Prices start at 38,540 for the petrol models and 40,170 for the new diesels. The top diesel model I drove, the M30d S Premium, costs 47,680 very steep on the face of it but it does have all the equipment and luxury trim that usually costs more in competitor models.

That noted, it's the running costs for the M30d that are out of step with the competition. Its 199g/km of CO2 incurs an annual road tax of 425 for the First Year and then 235 thereafter. BIK company car tax is 31%. By comparison, the Jaguar XF 3.0d's road tax bill is 300, reducing to 200 and with 27% BIK. The BMW 530d rates 250 road tax reducing to 180 with a 25% BIK. According to advanced information, the yet to be released Audi A6 Saloon 3.0 TDI looks even better, with road tax of just 110 and 19% BIK.

Bottom line, it all depends on how much value Infiniti owners place on the brand's rarity element. There's no doubt the M saloon looks a purposeful executive business saloon with the usual Infiniti DNA long bonnet and muscular bumpers. Inside the quality is very high with a twin-cockpit front design and relatively roomy in the rear, leather upholstery, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats; it's also beautifully put together and it feels luxurious but then in this class so does the competition! Where the Infiniti has the edge is that virtually everything you could need is fitted as standard and, unlike the competition, there are no extra-cost items to be added to the final price.

The standard 'spec' list is endless but included are 20-inch alloy wheels, a 30GB high-definition navigation system with traffic message channel and lots more POI content and voice recognition, a 10GB Infiniti Music Box with Bose surround sound and 16 speakers, Forest Air system (an innovative climate control system designed to promote alertness and relieve stress), Bi-Xenon lights with adaptive auto-levelling, rear LED lights, intelligent cruise control, blind spot warning, distance control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and prevention and intelligent braking assist.

For the lazy buyers
or the ones who cannot
make up their minds,
the Infiniti M30d
S Premium is an easy
buy — it has it all
There's also sports suspension, four-wheel active steering, rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, seven-speed auto transmission with drive mode selection which tailors key driving parameters for Sport, Normal, Snow and Eco, front and rear double-glazed windows and an electric glass sunroof. So for the lazy buyers or the ones that cannot make up their minds, the Infiniti M30d S Premium is an easy buy it has the lot.

Of course, where it really matters is driving refinement and performance. My test model had sports suspension coupled with the 20-inch wheels so the ride over the UK's poor roads was very firm and not as compliant as many executive customers in this sector would like the GT version runs a 'softer' suspension and might be the better choice.

The handling is not as sharp as the European competition either, being better suited to the US and Japan; and whilst it is certainly a fast and responsive car it doesn't like to be hustled it's more of a cruiser than a bruiser.

The newly-added 235bhp 3.0 V6 turbodiesel unit comes from the Renault-Nissan alliance and its 405lb ft of torque delivers real 'grunt' when needed, allied to first class flexibility at low speeds. The top speed is the mandatory 155mph in this sector with zero to 62mph taking 6.9 seconds. The engine generally works in harmony with the seven-speed auto 'box but it is bit slow to change between gears even in Sport mode not an issue if the car is treated as a long-legged cruiser.

The official fuel economy in the Combined Cycle is 37.7mpg and on a brief test drive around busy country roads and small towns the car returned 34.4mpg. And given the size and weight of the M30d, this is impressive. However, it's the tailpipe emissions that determine the road tax and BIK charges and it's these taxes that will hit buyer's pockets the hardest.

Not so good then are the costly taxation charges (which will be higher again soon) and the limited number of dealers. On the plus side the Infiniti has massive amounts of standard-fit kit and high build quality plus that all-important scarcity value. — David Miles

Infiniti M30d S Premium | 47,680
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 34.4mpg
Power: 235bhp | Torque: 405lb ft | CO2 199g/km