2003 Infiniti M45
This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2004.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Sliding behind the wheel of Infiniti's M45 at 3:30 a.m., I wasn't sure I was going to like this car. The very early hour made me grouchy, and I had 400 miles to travel from Southern California to Sacramento.
But what better way to learn if this new luxury sedan, largely based on the Infiniti's Q45 flagship but priced thousands of dollars less, could pamper and please even the crankiest driver?
I set my jaw and set out on a quiet Sunset Boulevard, pretty certain that I wouldn't find other M45s out there and hoping I wouldn't find many other vehicles, either. I was right on both counts.
Two V8 cars now at Infiniti
Infiniti officials added the M45—a rear-driver that shares the Q45's satisfying, 340-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 and some other Q45 components in a slightly smaller package—to help flesh out the lineup.
And, frankly, given the less-than-strong sales of the Q45 in calendar 2002, Infiniti looks to the M45 to help bridge the gap between its lower-priced sedans like the V6-powered G35 and the more than $50,000 Q45. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price for the M45 is just over $42,000.
Watch that speed
The M45, which is a sizable, five-passenger car, managed the road heaves and bumps from Sunset's concrete pavement capably.
I felt bumps mostly mildly. At the same time, I didn't feel isolated from the road. Better still, the M45 didn't get unsettled in the many curves, and body sway—for a 3,851-pound car—felt well controlled.
I wouldn't describe the M45's ride as entirely sporty. I'd say it's a mix of luxury feel with a sport capability. There were no punishing jolts nor temperamental steering here.
The M45 shares the Q45's platform and has independent MacPherson struts up front and a multilink system with semi-trailing arms in back. Tires are big, 18-inchers and do transmit a bit of road noise.
Smooth, powerful V8
Shifts through the five-speed electronically controlled automatic were smooth. And using the self-shift mechanism was satisfying as I managed my speeds and planned my passes. Fuel economy in this 16.4-foot-long sedan wasn't as bad as I had feared, given my aggressive driving. I managed nearly 18 miles a gallon, and when I stopped to fill up, I used the recommended premium gasoline.
Infiniti's fun navigation system is optional on the M45, and I kept it on the whole way, though I knew exactly where I was going. I just liked seeing the route through the system's "bird's eye" view. It inserts landmarks—like an airplane in the sky when you're headed toward an airport—on the map horizon to help you orient yourself. But this nav system is a pricey option on the M45.
Thankfully, the 225-watt Bose audio system with AM/FM stereo and cassette and CD player is not. It's standard and produces strong, clear tunes—just the thing to keep me entertained.
In fact, the miles passed pleasantly in the leather-and-wood-swathed M45. By the time I arrived in California's capitol city, I was no longer cranky. I was ready to take on the day.