Infiniti made a last minute decision to show its products at the Chicago Auto Show and so it took some searching to find the brands new 2011 M model tucked away in a back corner. But it was worth the hunt. Infiniti actually showed the car to us at a private event during the LA Auto Show, but the car’s Chicago Auto Show debut will be its first public appearance.
For 2011 the M will be offered as both an M37 and M56 model, each of which will be offered in either RWD or AWD. Like the G37, the M37 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 270 ft-lbs of torque. As for the M56, it gets a massive 5.6-liter mill with an impressive 420-hp and 417 ft-lbs of torque. In total, the new top-level M gets 95-hp and 81 ft-lbs of torque over its predecessor, the M45.
Those looking for even more sport can opt for a Sport Package (RWD only), that comes with 20-inch wheels, a sport tuned suspension, larger brake rotors with 4-piston front calipers and two-piston rears, 4-Wheel Active Steer (4WAS) steering, as well as a sport steering wheel, pedals and shift knob. Specific to the Sport Package are special double-piston shocks that deliver a ride that is both comfortable and stable. There’s even a unique front fascia.
Both engines come with Infiniti’s 7-speed sport automatic transmission, allowing the M56 to get even better fuel economy than the old M45.
As for the car’s size, it is larger than the outgoing M, measuring roughly half an inch longer at 194.7 inches, 2-inches wider at 72.6 inches. It is also roughly half an inch lower at 59.1 inches to help keep the car’s center of gravity low.
One of the most exciting features on the new M is Infiniti Drive that allows a driver to choose between four settings of throttle pressure and transmission shift points. There’s also an Active Tracing Control system that adjusts engine power and braking at all four wheels for optimum performance. Safety items include Blind Spot Warning and Blind Spot Intervention that helps bring the car back towards the center of the lane. There’s also an Eco Pedal feature that, when selected, uses green and yellow lights on the instrument panel to give the driver feedback on his or her driving, while also giving feedback through the gas pedal, pushing back to alert the driver when they are operating the vehicle inefficiently. Infiniti says that in testing this simple method has lead to improved fuel economy of five to 10 percent.