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By Jim Kerr

The new 2011 Infiniti M sedan may be an impressive expression of flowing, sensuous design, but it is also a showcase for sophisticated technologies. Many of these user-focused technologies interact with the driver to help them drive the vehicle better. Here are some of them and what they can do for drivers.

‘Infiniti Drive’ is a four-mode driver-selectable control of throttle and transmission mapping. Turn the knob on the console to Sport, Standard, Eco or Snow modes to help optimize vehicle performance. Sport mode provides more aggressive shifts and more responsive throttle application, including quick downshifts during brake application. It really is a Sport mode. The Standard mode provides a more relaxed economical driving style, and Snow mode starts the vehicle out in a higher gear and with less torque to reduce wheel spin. Eco mode is all about driving economically. Acceleration is slower, transmission shifts occur at lower speeds and fuel economy is maximized.

Eco mode also activates the optional Eco Pedal, which provides driver feedback to encourage economical driving. Press the accelerator pedal to accelerate and the driver will feel a point of higher resistance indicating where excess fuel will be used. The amount of pedal resistance can be personalized with the dash display and the driver can push through the resistance point if fast acceleration or power is needed, but for the best fuel economy, they should drive the vehicle below the resistance point.

Many of the user-focused technologies are part of Infiniti’s ‘Safety Shield’ philosophy. Safety Shield is a visualized series of zones or risk areas around the vehicle that vary in distance from the vehicle. Each zone uses technologies to help improve vehicle safety. In the furthest zone, where a risk has not yet appeared, Intelligent Cruise Control uses radar technology to keep the vehicle at safe preset distances from other vehicles in front. The available Distance Assist Control system helps the driver release the throttle and applies the brakes in traffic situations where frequent applications are required.

In the next closer zone, a risk has appeared and the technology helps the driver move back to the first zone. Here, the Blind Spot Warning system uses radar to detect vehicles driving in your blind spot and illuminates a warning light on the door near the outside mirror to alert the driver. Turn the signal light on and the system will flash the light and also sound an audible warning. Infiniti has added to the system performance with the introduction of a world first Blind Spot Intervention system, which nudges the steering wheel to move the vehicle back to the centre of the lane if the vehicle moves towards another vehicle driving in the blind spot. The system activates individual wheel brakes to move the vehicle to the desired location.

Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention systems are also part of this zone. Using camera recognition of lane boundaries, the system will assist drivers to return to the centre of the lane if the vehicle wanders out of position.

Zone 3 is closer yet and an area where a collision may occur. Brake Assist with Preview automatically pressurizes the brake system in anticipation of an emergency brake application so that stopping distances are reduced.

Zone 4 is very close to the vehicle – an area where a collision may be unavoidable. Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning can apply the brakes automatically while warning the driver of a serious safety concern. By slowing the vehicle, injuries and vehicle damage are reduced.

Zone 5 is the vehicle itself. A collision has occurred and now vehicle safety systems such as air bags, active head restraints, seat belt retractors and vehicle crumple zones help protect occupants. With all the technology in the Infiniti M Safety Shield, Zone 5 should never have to occur.

Some user-focused technologies in the Infiniti M improve passenger comfort. Active Noise Control reduces undesirable engine harmonics, providing a quieter cabin by analyzing low frequency interior noise and producing a cancelling sound wave through the Bose audio speaker system. You don’t have to have the audio on for it to work.

The Forest Air system selection on the climate control panel varies fan speeds to produce gentle and varied “breezes” in the passenger compartment and automatically re-circulates and filters the air if it detects unpleasant odours outside.

These are only some of the technologies found in the 2011 Infiniti M that make driving safer and more comfortable.

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