Bat­tery power makes M35h fly, shame about the boot space

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

celebrity links. Ul­ti­mately the dosh comes from the Re­naultNis­san al­liance.

This pre­am­ble is pre­par­ing me for what I want to say about the cars, per se. In­finiti is play­ing what we know as “the long game” and has things up the cor­po­rate sleeve, in­clud­ing new four cylin­der en­gines for 2014. Cur­rently it uses V6 en­gines, 3-litres for the diesel and 3.7 petrol plus a 5-litre V8 in the top rung FX. Only one diesel is be­low the 200g/km CO2 rat­ing (199g ac­tu­ally).

The other diesels are 224g/ km and all the petrols are north of 240g/km. Th­ese have dire im­pli­ca­tions for an­nual road tax and ben­e­fit in kind com­pany car tax­a­tion.

Your ac­coun­tant will sug­gest some­thing from Ger­many or Coven­try with a lowe­mis­sion, high mpg CO2 diesel en­gine, (and a proven re­sale value). In­finiti’s 235bhp 3-litre diesel gives a best com­bined MPG of 33, al­beit with good per­for­mance (0-62 in 7.9 sec­onds) and 405lb-ft of torque. There is one bright hope in the car you see here, the M35h, a five-seater lux­ury sports saloon with a Nis­san/ In­finiti power pack com­bin­ing a 302bhp 3.5 litre petrol en­gine with 258lb-ft torque and a 67bhp, 199lb-ft power elec­tric en­gine driv­ing the rear wheels through a seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

The fig­ures are 40.9mpg and 159g/km CO2 with 0-62mph in 5.5 sec­onds. It costs £42,020 or £45,990 in the Pre­mium spec­i­fi­ca­tion (adding a nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion package and BOSE hi-fi).

This is a 5m long limo (or 16ft 3in) and one of the first sur­prises you get is when you flip the boot open and find not much space (a mere 350 litres). No idea what that looks like? Well, not a lot. I shoe-horned in a small (folded) elec­tric mower and four soft shop­ping bags and it was jammed. The back seats do not fold for­ward so you can­not, ever, ex­tend the boot.

The rea­son they do not fold is the same rea­son the boot is so short. Be­tween the trunk and the seats is the lithium bat­tery stack, plus a 12v bat­tery and var­i­ous other com­pli­ca­tions as­so­ci­ated with the elec­tric trans­mis­sion. (The diesel-en­gines model has an ad­di­tional 100 litres ca­pac­ity, 10 ex­tra litres in the fuel tank (but the rear seats are still per­ma­nently fixed. A sim­i­lar con­trac­tion af­flicts the ri­val Lexus 450h with an even smaller boot).

The elec­tric com­po­nents add 115kg to the weight of a 3.7 petrol model and the rear-end load of those bat­ter­ies can be felt if you use the M35h for per­for­mance. Flat­ten the throt­tle and it flies off the mark with the in­stant full torque whack from the mo­tor and the V6 en­gine. Th­ese sort of hy­brids do not go far or quickly on elec­tric power alone. There is a risk of hold­ing up fol­low­ing traf­fic if you per­sist in stay­ing on EV (elec­tric ve­hi­cle) mode.

For rea­sons I am too em­bar­rassed to ex­plain I usu­ally drive across the vil­lage to the gym­na­sium. It is flat, with two T junc­tions, less than a mile. The M35h could just about man­age this on elec­tric power – thus no pol­lu­tion caused to fel­low ci­ti­zens.

You will also find EV kick­ing in at higher speeds if you coast on a very light throt­tle on flat roads.

In a week when I cov­ered 630 miles in the M35h, the ma­jor­ity was mo­tor­way, it av­er­aged 35.8 miles a gal­lon and 183 of those miles were achieved (un­wit­tingly) on EV power.

OPEN ROAD: The M35h is a five-seater sports saloon with petrol and elec­tric drive, but boot space is lim­ited by the bat­ter­ies.

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