Battery power makes M35h fly, shame about the boot space
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.