Review and photos by Haney Louka

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

The new M sedans represent a much-needed replacement for the previous M45 in Infiniti’s model line-up. That the name is the only common element between this 2006 model and the old one is good news all around.

While the old car was available in a single rear-drive V8 model, the new car is also available in rear- and all-wheel-drive V6 versions, the latter of which is the subject of this review: the M35x.
Pricing and standard equipment

Starting price for Infiniti’s new M is $54,800. That sum nets the expected safety features – traction and stability control and front, side, and head curtain airbags – along with a host of luxury goodies. Topping that list are 18-inch wheels, power sunroof, trip computer, leather upholstery (heated and cooled seats up front), genuine wood trim, a Bose six-disc CD stereo, dual-zone climate control, and keyless start.

Adding the ‘x’ suffix to the M35’s trunk badge sends engine power to all four wheels and brings the price up to $58,300. Our $65,800 tester came armed with all of the goodies including a $2,200 Entertainment package with a DVD player and a slick power-operated rear flip-down screen and wireless headphones. Part of the package is the phenomenal Bose 5.1 Studio Surround system with 14 speakers and 308 watts.

The $5,300 Premium package completes the luxury picture: heated rear seats, navigation system, lane departure warning system, laser-based intelligent cruise control, a power rear sunshade, power reclining rear seats, and rear passenger controls for audio and ventilation.

2006 Infiniti M35x
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What more could the well-heeled ask for? Well, they might want more power, which is available in the eight-cylinder M45 for a starting price of $64,400. But this story is about the M35x, a veritable bargain in the luxury sedan class – and one that doesn’t leave the enthusiastic driver wanting.


Despite being labeled as the ‘base’ engine, the M35’s 3.5-litre V6 eagerly pumps out 280 hp at 6,200 rpm and 270 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 revs. The same VQ-series engine as in the smaller G35, this six-pot employs an aluminum block and cylinder head, dual overhead cams, and continuously variable valve timing to achieve those output numbers.

2006 Infiniti M35x
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Unlike the M35 and M45 rear-drivers, the x benefits from Nissan’s electronic ATTESA E-TS all wheel drive system, which is a full-time system that can vary the front-to-rear torque split from 0:100 to an even 50:50. The rear-drive bias of the system is intended to ensure that drivers never feel like they’re piloting a front-wheel-drive car.

The M is built on a modified version of Nissan’s FM (front-midship) platform, signifying a front engine that’s situated mostly behind the car’s front axle. Although that’s the same platform used for the Infiniti’s G35 and FX crossover vehicles and Nissan’s 350Z, Infiniti says 60% of its components are designed specifically for the M.

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

Front suspension duties are carried out by a double-wishbone system while the rear rubber is held to the road through a multi-link independent setup. Brakes are vented discs all around, with anti-lock, electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and brake assist. EBD keeps braking pressure equal at all four corners, and brake assist detects an emergency situation when the driver hits the brakes and automatically applies full braking pressure.


That’s all great, but buyers in this segment want the latest technology, and the M supplies a generous helping.

The intelligent cruise control uses laser sensors to measure the distance to the car ahead and uses the brakes and throttle to maintain a minimum safe distance. Adaptive front headlights turn with the steering wheel to illuminate the path ahead along curves. There’s a colour rear-view monitor that includes lines to project the path of the M as it backs up. So not only can you see what’s behind you, you’ll also know whether you’ll be able to thread between that concrete bollard and the shopping cart.

2006 Infiniti M35x

2006 Infiniti M35x

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

Inside, the technology show continues. The keyless start system allows the driver to walk up to the car, get in, start the engine, and drive away without laying a finger on the key fob. Climate controlled front seats use a fan at their base to draw ambient air through the seat, which then gets heated or cooled according to the occupants’ wishes.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is an especially slick system: a small camera mounted behind the rearview mirror captures the lane markings and the system can detect how quickly the car is approaching the edge of the lane. If the driver approaches the lane marking without using a signal, an audible beep is heard inside the car. The driver can disable the system but it resets each time the car is started. The system worked surprisingly well even on Winnipeg roads where the lane markings were barely visible.

Hey, I’ve got an idea – let’s make LDW standard equipment on all new cars. Drivers who don’t normally use their signals will be forced to use them just to avoid hearing the annoying beep each time they drift from lane to lane.

Perhaps the best part of the Infiniti’s technology bag-of-tricks is reserved for audiophiles – the Bose “Studio Surround” 5.1-channel DVD audio system. Included in the 14 speakers are two in each front seat behind the occupants’ shoulders. Infiniti saw fit to include a demo DVD to showcase the capability of the system, which is nothing short of amazing. The channels are separated into crisp, clear sounds that occasionally made me do a quick shoulder check to make sure the sound wasn’t coming from outside the car.

2006 Infiniti M35x

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

But I wouldn’t be nearly as impressed with the M if it didn’t offer the same level of thrills for the driver: the M sends the same performance message that the original Q45 did 15 years ago.

Driving impressions

Despite being the heaviest of the M cars at 1,816 kg, the M35x’s 280-hp V-6 provides brisk – if not neck-snapping – acceleration, and is much smoother than the Lexus GS in carrying out its business. When left in ‘D’, the transmission exhibits good willingness to kick down when prompted by the right foot, and when shifted manually it blips the throttle on downshifts to match revs. In short, it’s one of the best examples of manually shifted automatics on the market.

During its time with me, the M averaged 12.6 L/100 km under mostly city driving and an eager right foot – quite impressive considering the official city consumption estimate of 13.3 L/100 km.

2006 Infiniti M35x

2006 Infiniti M35x

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

The M’s suspension strikes that elusive balance between good ride quality and excellent control of body motions that is essential to a sporting luxury car, all the while nicely suppressing road noise.

My main quibble about the drive? The M felt just a touch darty at higher speeds – not the buttoned down model of control that I had hoped for over surface irregularities.

Interior impressions

Driver interfaces are well thought out. There’s a control knob on the centre stack which is used to perform various functions such as navigation and trip computer viewing. It’s intuitive and the screen transitions mimic a PowerPoint presentation. Infiniti has wisely decided not to have the knob control the most basic functions like climate and audio, each of which are operated via more conventional dash buttons.

2006 Infiniti M35x
Click image to enlarge

The M’s passenger cabin is a wonderful place in which to spend time. Genuine Brazilian rosewood is applied liberally, but tastefully, across the dash and complements the black-and-polished aluminum nicely. I wasn’t smitten by the combination of that wood with the orangey-brown leather of my tester, but other interior colours are available. Regardless of which colour is wrapped around the seats, though, the fit and finish are top-notch and are evidence that Infiniti is listening to consumers who put interior quality and styling near the top of their lists when shopping for a car.

The rear doors open almost 90 degrees and ease ingress into what is a comfortable and spacious passenger compartment.

Shopping Around

This is a big year for luxury sedans from all over the world, with many new models for 2005 and 2006, accompanied by a few that are long in the tooth (starting prices listed):

  • Acura RL ($69,500)

  • Audi A6 ($59,900)
  • BMW 5-Series ($66,500)
  • Cadillac STS ($55,995)
  • Chrysler 300C ($43,095)
  • Jaguar S-Type ($62,795)
  • Lexus GS 300 ($64,300)
  • Lincoln LS ($43,865)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class ($73,000)
  • Saab 9-5 ($43,000)
  • Volvo S80 ($54,995)


All of the praise above is heaped on a car that is aggressively priced against the competition, which in general provides less car for more money. With the new M, Infiniti has proven that it knows where its roots are by giving us its distinctly sporting rendition of what a luxury car can, and should be.

Technical Data: 2006 Infiniti M35x AWD

Base price (M35) $54,800
Base price (M35x) $58,300
Options $7,500 – Entertainment package ($2,200) and Premium package ($5,300)
Freight $1,322
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $67,222 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
Type 4-door, 5-passenger luxury sedan
Layout longitudinal front engine/full-time all-wheel drive
Engine 3.5-litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves, continuously variable valve timing
Horsepower 280 @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 270 @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission five-speed automatic with manual shift mode
Tires P245/45R-18 all-season
Curb weight 1,816 kg (4,004 lb.)
Wheelbase 2,900 mm (114.2 in.)
Length 4,900 mm (192.9 in.)
Width 1,798 mm (70.8 in.)
Height 1,466 mm (57.7 in.)
Trunk capacity 422 litres (14.9 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 13.3 L/100 km (21 mpg) (Imperial)
  9.0 L/100 km (31 mpg) (Imperial)
Warranty 4 yrs/100,000 km
Powertrain warranty 6 yrs/110,000 km

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