Infiniti M Hybrid

Power, luxury and efficiency?

Granted… it is not fully electric. But when you look at what Nissan has done here, it is worth evaluating.

3.5 liter V6. 50 kilowatt electric motor. Combined 360 horsepower. Better fuel economy than a 122 horsepower 4-cylinder Nissan Versa with automatic transmission. Impressive.

Nissan’s previous hybrid vehicle (the Nissan Altima) uses Toyota hybrid technology. Kudos to Nissan for being among the few to take up Toyota on their offer of using the technology. But the obvious downside of that is that the customer is never going to get exactly the same technology as the source, and one is captive to the technology of another.

Enter the 2012 Infiniti M35 Hybrid using Nissan’s own hybrid technology, developed in-house. At $53,700 it ain’t cheap. But in a world of $41,000 Chevrolet Volts, it does have appeal for some. Let’s take a closer look.

The rest of the V-6 M lineup uses the later 3.7 liter variation of this engine. For whatever reason, Nissan chose to retune the 3.5 in combination with the electric motor. It is hard to argue with the result – 360 horsepower – 27 miles per gallon city, 32 miles per gallon highway (compared to the Versa automatic with 24/32 out of a 122 horsepower 1.8L 4-cylinder) and a combined fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon. The performance guy in me is saying this sounds really sweet. If you’ve never been in an M, they are amazingly comfortable and they handle pretty well for a larger car. The hybrid actually offers up more power than the M37 internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, which comes in at 330 horsepower and offers fuel economy numbers of 18/26. Versus 27 and 32? More power and better fuel efficiency? For the extra six grand, let’s make a deal.

Rear-wheel drive. 7-speed automatic transmission. Hybrid electric hydraulic power steering to improve fuel efficiency and maintain feel and performance. Up to 62 miles per hour under electric power only. Around town driving might result in electric propulsion as much as 50% of the time, depending on driving style and conditions.

You see our dilemma. Do we listen to the devil on the left shoulder, or the angel on the right? Let’s listen to both and take the Hybrid.

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