2012 Infiniti M35h
2012 Infiniti M35h; photo by Grant Yoxon. Click image to enlarge

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By Paul Williams

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2012 Infiniti M35h

Los Angeles, California – The range of new products introduced by Nissan made their stand a busy place at this year’s 2010 Los Angeles auto show in December. Along with the concept Ellure midsize sedan, we saw the new Nissan Quest, the electric Leaf and the updated and even more formidable GT-R supercar.

What we won’t see in Canada is the surprising Murano cross-convertible, a drop-top version of the Murano crossover utility.

The Infiniti stand was quieter than Nissan’s with only one “reveal,” in the form of the all-new 2012 Infiniti M35h. This we will see in Canada, as it is set to go on sale in Spring, 2011.

The 2012 Infiniti M35h is designed as a “drivers” hybrid, offering 360-hp with highway fuel consumption of 6.9 L/100km and city consumption of 8.8 L/100 km (combined 7.4 L/100 km). Wendy Durard, Director, Infiniti Canada, likens the M35h power and fuel consumption to “four-cylinder fuel efficiency with V8 performance.”

2012 Infiniti M35h
2012 Infiniti M35h
2012 Infiniti M35h; photos courtesy Infiniti. Click image to enlarge

The Infiniti M35h features Infiniti’s new “Direct Response Hybrid” system that comprises a single-motor, dual clutch design that allows power to be delivered directly to the car’s seven-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.5-litre V6 gasoline engine coupled with a 50-kW electric motor provides a net power of 360 hp and 258 pound-feet torque combined with 199 lb.-ft. of torque from the electric motor.

An attribute of Infiniti’s hybrid system is that the M35h can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 100 km/h, and can travel on electric propulsion for up to 1.9 km. Infiniti tests show that the car can drive in electric mode up to 50 per cent of the time.

Standard M35h features will include Active Noise Control, Infiniti Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Active Trace Control, and Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System.

Infiniti also notes that the M35h is the world’s first hybrid to feature a standard audible pedestrian warning system. The system is required because, says Infiniti, the M35h is capable of traveling faster and farther on electric-only mode than conventional hybrid designs. The new audible warning system, called “Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP),” uses a range of distinctive sounds to help ensure the safety of other road users so that they can hear the car, even if they don’t (or can’t) see it.

The computer controlled system uses an in-car sound synthesizer connected to a speaker built in to the front bumper. It emits a range of high-low sounds at different volume levels, chosen as the most effective, but least intrusive, noise. Infiniti says its VSP development team worked with cognitive and acoustic psychologists studying areas including pedestrian behavioural patterns and noise pollution. The result is, “a sound that extends from 2.5 kHz at the high end to a low of 600 Hz; a range readily audible to all age groups, while avoiding a sound range (around 1,000 Hz) that would add unnecessary noise to the environment.”

The noise changes from high to low frequency depending on vehicle speed and whether the Infiniti M35h is accelerating or decelerating. In normal driving conditions, it will be the loudest when starting; in order to give a clear indication the vehicle is beginning getting underway. An intermittent tone is used when reversing, with both sounds calculated to ensure the Infiniti M35h cannot surprise pedestrians and the visually impaired as it approaches.

Autos will be sure to include a sound file in its First Drive of the Infiniti M35h (early 2011), so that readers can get a sense of the warning sounds the car will emit.

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