Infiniti hybrid is artful and gusty
Simple yet effective
Infiniti’s homegrown hybrid technology is a simple yet effective and elegant solution. Moving front to back on the powertrain, you’ll find: the north-south mounted 3.5L V6; a dry clutch which can decouple the V6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes; the electric motor itself; the 7-speed automatic transmission with another clutch, then a driveshaft to the rear wheels. There is no torque converter.
Infiniti says the setup keeps weight down, and makes more direct power delivery to those rear wheels.
To save more weight, Infiniti developed a new electro-hydraulic steering system and a new braking system with an electric booster. To aid steering feel, the assist motor only cuts in when the wheel is turned.
The 1.4-kWh capacity lithium-ion battery pack, located in the trunk area, is also light and was designed for fast charging/fast discharging.
Net result: the hybrid weighs 125 kg (or 275 lbs) more than a rear-drive M37, and trunk space has been cut down by about 113 litres (4 cubic feet), to 320 litres (or 11.3 cubic feet). If you like traveling in foursomes and need to carry luggage, trunk space could be an issue.
On the road
M35h is capable of driving solely on electric power to speeds up to 100 km/h. But you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to reach that speed without the gas engine firing up; I couldn’t do it. Maybe I should have tried it on a decline. It’s a heavy car and not a huge electric motor, so you don’t have to squeeze the throttle too much to awaken the V6.
But I don’t think the powertrain was designed for that kind of electric driving. Rather think of it has a vehicle with a cool “creeping” mode in traffic, a fantastic “go fast” mode for passing and boredom relief, and an all-electric “cruising” mode for about 2 kilometres at a time; it’s a brief, but serene experience.
The M is already a very quiet vehicle. An M in all-electric mode is, well, quieter. All you hear is road noise, the stereo and the air conditioning.
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2012 Infiniti M Hybrid Specifications
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