2004 Infiniti M45

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2003 Infiniti M45

This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2004.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Deftly fills a gap in Infiniti car line.
Pros:
  • Fast
  • Roomy
  • Has key features of costlier Infiniti Q45
Cons:
  • Innocuous styling
  • Gimmicky dashboard display screen
  • Middling fuel economy

The new Infiniti M45 sedan is a genuine bargain because it has key features of the automaker's fast, luxurious flagship Q45 sedan for about ten grand less.

The $42,300 M45 has enough power to easily trump Japanese and German rivals with V6 engines and even outpowers those with a V8. The zero-60 sprint takes only 5.9 seconds and the car is geared to loaf at 80 mph. There's always plenty of power and torque on hand to make merging and passing seem almost effortless.

However, fuel economy isn't very good, at an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway.

Lacks Styling Flair
But fuel economy isn't the major drawback of the M45. Rather, the car has virtually no styling flair. It's essentially based on the bland Japan-market Cedric/Gloria—although it has new front and rear styling, with the sculpted front end reminiscent of the Cadillac CTS's.

The M45 fits between the Infiniti I35 and G35 V6 sedans and the Q45. The latter started life about a decade ago as a sports sedan and has ended up a luxury cruiser.

Shares Q45 Features
The M45 has the Q45's silky engine, 5-speed automatic transmission and platform, although it's slightly lower, shorter, narrower and about 100 pounds lighter than the big Q45.

The M45 also has most of the Q45's luxury car comfort and convenience amenities, including leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control.

In fact, there isn't much on the Q45 that you can't get on the M45, although the Q45 retains its optional rear camera that shows objects directly behind it via a dashboard screen when in reverse gear.

Futuristic System
The M45 can even be had with a futuristic laser-based cruise control system that lets the car maintain a set distance from the vehicle ahead. That feature is in the $2,700 Technology Package, which includes a navigation system.

Also offered is the $950 Comfort and Convenience package, which contains a tire-pressure monitor, heated/self-dimming outside mirrors and a full-size spare tire with matching alloy wheel. If one of the big tires goes flat, it's assumed that many M45 drivers wouldn't want to limp to the nearest service facility on a skimpy "mini" temporary spare tire.

The M45 has so much equipment that the only other option group is the $2,200 Premium package. It contains a power tilt/sliding sunroof, heated/cooled front sport bucket seats and voice control for the audio, climate control and navigation systems.

Among safety features are front side airbags and front/rear curtain side airbags.

The M45 is easy to safely drive quickly. The power steering is fast and precise, but feels rather heavy at highway speeds. Still, that's preferable to overly light steering.

Sharp Handling
The all-independent suspension helps provides sharp handling and a firm but comfortable ride, while front and rear anti-sway bars keep body roll in check. Standard anti-skid and traction control systems increase stability under demanding driving conditions.

Wide 45-series tires on hefty standard 18-inch wheels enhance handling of the M45, which has the front-engine, rear-drive setup of European sports sedans such as the BMW.

The brake pedal feels a little soft, but has a nice linear action. The powerful anti-lock, all-disc brake system has a standard brake-assist feature and an electronic brake force distribution system for short, sure stops.

Four adults comfortably fit in the luxurious cockpit, and doors open wide to allow easy entry and exit. However, the outside door handles can pinch fingers and inside door handles are too small. Rear windows don't lower all the way.

Hard-to-Reach Controls
Wind noise is noticeable at highway speeds with the sound system turned off, and the wide tires can be blamed for some coarse-surface road noise. Gauges can be quickly read, but the audio/climate controls are a little hard to reach—even for drivers with long arms.

Those controls use a dashboard screen that seems gimmicky for a sports sedan. And the screen also looks out of place because it's put above Infiniti's classy analog dashboard clock.

The large trunk is nicely shaped, but rear seatbacks don't fold forward to enlarge the cargo area.

The M45 does a good job blending luxury and sportiness, besides nicely filling a gap in Infiniti's car line.

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BB01 - 7/25/2014 2:25:33 PM