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Infiniti M37S Premium

Click to view picture gallery“Infiniti is winning the 2011 Formula
  One championship! Good headline,
  for sure — but it
s only the Infiniti
  badge that
s crossing the line in first
  place
...”


YOU'VE PROBABLY SEEN THE WORD 'INFINITI' blurring across the back of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull F1 car, assuring the Japanese brand of crucial awareness among petrolheads worldwide. Never mind that Infiniti doesn't have a racing programme of its own. Nor a sports car per se — the G37 coupe is about as close as it gets.

But if you want the range-topping Infiniti, the one with all the technology and gadgets, the M37 is it the biggest, swankiest car made by Nissan's luxury car division. And from the moment you get in, the intention is clear: to spoil you rotten.

Let's dive in with some wisp-clouds of New Age therapy that Infiniti has sprinkled liberally throughout the cabin. The 'Forest Air' climate control system, for instance, has a function called 'Breeze Mode' (which makes it feel like a desk fan), and something called Plasmacluster with Grape Polyphenol which blows 'forest scents' into the cabin…

The Bose hi-fi system has no fewer than 16 speakers. Blind spot intervention, lane departure prevention and distance control assist all actively intervene to keep you safe. Double glazing keeps you warm at night.

Four-wheel active
steering is standard on
‘S’ models, which adds
an extra edge of
sportiness — for such a
big car the handling
is surprisingly agile and
you can hustle
the M37 around back
roads like it was a much
smaller car
...”
Basically, the M37 is like a five-star hotel with a spa attached. It's a very striking-looking car, too, with that swoopy swage line down the flanks I even caught myself saying "Wow! What's that reflected in that shop window" before realising it was me.

My one gripe is the décor: the cabin is an extraordinarily darkly trimmed place. Claustrophobes beware!

Okay, so the M37 does a very good job of cosseting you. But how does it drive?

There's no lack of pace from the 316bhp 3.7-litre V6 engine, which is basically a slightly detuned version of the powerplant found under the bonnet of the Nissan 370Z sports car.

For such a big car (this Mercedes E-Class rival weighs in at 1,715kg), it hustles along very quickly. It's helped by an excellent seven-speed automatic gearbox, which has four modes (Normal, Sport, Eco and Snow) and also offers the driver the option of changing gears manually using magnesium paddles. Fuel consumption of 27.7mpg is nothing to write home about, though.

As with the Infiniti G series, four-wheel active steering is standard on 'S' models, which adds an extra edge of sportiness. Again, for such a big car the handling is surprisingly agile. The multilink rear suspension and rear-wheel drive set-up is targeted at keen drivers and you can hustle the M37 around back roads like it was a much smaller car. You won't suffer any ride quality compromises either: although the M37 rides firmly, it's never uncomfortable.

Are big petrol engines really what the market wants though? There's some evidence that, surprisingly, the answer might be yes. To date, Infiniti's best-selling model in Europe has been the V8-powered FX50S. But given the tiny overall sales numbers, perhaps this is nothing to shout about.

Although it's not sold in the UK, Infiniti has not quite ruled out offering the 5.6-litre V8 that powers the 'M' in the US of A. The so-called M56 has all of 420bhp but is a gas guzzler of the most antediluvian kind, so don't hold your breath.

Besides, the V6-powered M37 has now been joined in the UK by two new engine variants which will probably render the petrol 'M' utterly obsolete. The first is the diesel-powered M30d, which offers less power (235bhp) but more torque (405lb ft) and not significantly weaker performance (0-62 in 6.9 secs). It costs £1,630 more than the M37 but it does 37.7mpg and emits 199g/km of CO2.

And then there's the new hybrid M35h. Power and torque are not far shy of the big petrol V6 but it's quicker to 62mph (5.5 secs) and yet manages to return 40.4mpg with emissions of 162g/km. And it only costs £790 more than the M37. Game over, I think, for the M37. — Chris Rees

Infiniti M37S Premium | £46,050
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 6.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 27.7mpg
Power: 316bhp | Torque: 265lb ft | CO2 235g/km