First Drive: 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid reviews infiniti hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews first drives auto articles
2012 Infiniti M35h. Click image to enlarge

Power is stored in a 1.4-kWh Lithium-Ion battery pack located behind the rear seat. Lithium-Ion is quickly replacing Nickel-Metal Hydride as the battery of choice in hybrids, because size for size, Lithium-Ion is twice as powerful, lighter and quicker to alternate between charging and discharging. The battery pack in the M35h uses up 102 litres (3.6 cu. ft.) of space, reducing the trunk space from 422 to 320 litres (14.9 to 11.3 cu. ft). Ample space remains, enough for four golf bags Infiniti says, but it might be a tight fit.

The Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid system is simple and effective. It keeps extra weight to a minimum; at 1,815 kg (4,001 lb.) it weighs the same as the M37x AWD and 28 kg less than the M37 Sport. It pulls strong from a stop while maintaining all-electric mode for a longer time than I’ve experienced with any other hybrid. It actually took a bit of work to wake up the gasoline engine.

First Drive: 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid reviews infiniti hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews first drives auto articles
First Drive: 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid reviews infiniti hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews first drives auto articles
First Drive: 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid reviews infiniti hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews first drives auto articles
First Drive: 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid reviews infiniti hybrids green scene green reviews greenreviews first drives auto articles
2012 Infiniti M35h. Click image to enlarge

The M35h can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 100 km/h. It can travel on electric propulsion for up to 1.9 kilometres at a time. Tests have shown that in mixed diving, the Infiniti M35h is able to drive in electric-only mode for as much as 50 per cent of the time. And when it does alternate between electric only and gasoline/electric modes, the switch over is practically imperceptible. I have not driven any other hybrid with as smooth a transition as the Infiniti M35h.

The use of a 7-speed automatic transmission rather than the more common, at least with hybrids, continuously variable transmission (CVT), contributes greatly to the driving experience with the M35h. It does not feel any different than other normal vehicles, except eerily quiet.

Handling is unaffected by the hybrid system. With additional weight kept to a minimum and with the M37’s independent double-wishbone design in front and multi-link independent system in the rear, the M35h handles well for a car that weighs in excess of 4,000 lbs. The suspension system also features front and rear stabilizer bars and double-piston shock absorbers that have been specially tuned for use with the M35h. Eighteen-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and P245/50R18 V-rated all-season performance tires are standard on the Infiniti M35h.

The Infiniti M35h comes in only one well-optioned package (Premium Package – $3,800 value – plus Deluxe Touring and Technology Package – $5,100 value) and is priced at $67,300, $14,900 more than the base M37, but just $3,900 more than the M37 Sport. And for the money, the car is fully-loaded; notable inclusions being a hard-drive navigation system with eight-inch display, 16-speaker Bose Studio Surround audio system with two personal speakers mounted in the shoulders of each front seat, semianiline premium leather seating available in three colours, climate controlled driver and front passenger seats with 10-way power, heated and powered tilt and telescopic steering wheel, paddle shifters, power rear window shade, adaptive Xenon headlights, push-button ignition and dual zone climate control.

Innovative safety features include a blind spot intervention system and lane departure warning and prevention system.

With the additional price premium it is unlikely that Infiniti will sell many M hybrids. There is an expression that we all know – if you can afford the car you can afford to put gas in it – and that is how many consumers will react.

However, those who are intrigued by technology or a thoroughly modern approach to hot rodding, or those who want a luxury car but don’t feel that owning a luxury vehicle and wasting precious resources go hand in hand, should take a closer look at the 2012 Infiniti M35h.