The M Hybrid (formerly known as the M35h) is the greener version of Infiniti's mid-size luxury sedan. It provides a mix of strong acceleration, 32-mpg highway fuel economy and long-distance comfort.
Based on the purely gas-powered M sedan variants, which include the M37 and M56, the M Hybrid couples Infiniti's 3.5-liter V6 with a compact hybrid drive system. This system represents Nissan's first in-house designed hybrid drive system (The old Altima Hybrid used technology licensed from Toyota).
Infiniti refers to its hybrid system as "Direct Response Hybrid."
The M Hybrid uses a unique electric motor, twin-clutch system, allowing the gas engine to completely decouple from the driveline, thereby reducing mechanical drag. Backed by a lithium-ion battery pack, Infiniti says the M35 Hybrid can operate in complete electric mode in up to 50 percent of driving conditions, although it limits EV propulsion to 62 mph and a maximum distance of 1.2 miles.
Comparatively, Toyota's hybrid system uses a two-motor, single clutch series parallel system, which is less efficient and weighs roughly 66 pounds more. Volkswagen utilizes a dual-clutch system, but it uses nickel-metal hydride batteries compared to the lithium-ion batteries in the Infiniti system which help to capture discharging energy faster. Infiniti says that its system is less complex and also less expensive to produce than Toyota's alternative.
Infiniti officially rates the M35 Hybrid at 360 net horsepower for the gasoline and electric engines combined. Torque stands at 268 lb-ft for the V6 and 199 lb-ft for the electric motor. It's worth noting that the electric motor's torque peaks immediately, while the V6 has a more traditional curve.
City fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg, while highway figures check in at 32 mpg for a combined 29 mpg per the EPA.
Like the standard M sedan, the M35h features a rear-wheel drive setup and a seven-speed automatic. The car's electric motor can aid the gas engine in virtually all situations, ensuring maximum performance.
Infiniti slots the M35h between its standard M37 and its V8-powered M56, meaning the car comes with leather seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, Active Noise Control, a moonroof and Bluetooth.
Options include blind spot warning, a hard drive-based navigation system and Infiniti's Forest Air system, as well as Bose audio and intelligent cruise control.
Those interested in hybrid-izd luxury sedans like the M Hybrid should look into the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 and the Lexus GS 450h as well as the upcoming Mercedes-Benz E400 Hybrid.