Appearance: The M35 won't wow you with its looks, which are right out of automotive Central Casting. (Hello, Infiniti here, we have a role for a contemporary luxury sedan.) The M35's grille also is on the bland side, especially when compared with those on Inifini's FX line of crossovers. What does stand out is the subtle "Lakeshore Slate" blue paint — one of the nicest hues I've seen — and the car's 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Performance: Our tester was loaded with options. There was the Sport Package (which gains you some "S" badging), as well as both of the available technology packages. With its sport-tuned suspension, the M35 has a reputation for having a somewhat stiff ride, but I found it to be just the opposite, especially in city driving. The ride and handling were more of the "floaty" kind you would associate with a large sedan, but the steering wasn't overly light. The 303-horsepower DOHC V-6 is certainly enough engine for the rear-wheel-driver, but its performance seems to come alive — as does the growl from the exhaust — only in spirited driving. The seven-speed gearbox, which has manual (sport) and automatic modes, features parent Nissan's excellent rev-matching transmission, although it feels like a little bit of a waste when not married to a manual gearbox.
Interior: Just about every electronic gadget you could want was in our tester, from a console-mounted DVD to a lane-departure warning system to a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system. Depending on your level of geekness, you might consider the center-stack controls to be overly complicated. One unique feature — the upper console is angled almost like a keyboard. Elsewhere, the cabin — both front and rear — is roomy, comfortable and well-appointed. The dash and door panels are accented with carbon fiberlike inserts. (One nit: The plastic-faced analog clock seems cheap and out of place.) The 10-way leather seats are comfortable and well-bolstered. I especially liked the lower-back support, which includes lumbar adjustment. Like its German luxury counterparts, it has a lighter and ashtray.
The Bottom Line: I liked the M35's ride and handling better on the interstate and during spirited driving. It's enough to make me wonder how it would compare with the all-wheel-drive M35X. Still, it's a comfortable way to roll.
Infiniti has proven itself a worthy competitor in a luxury-car league that includes Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. The M line, which includes the pricier M45, is the company's flagship sedan, and a week behind the wheel of an M35 revealed a car that excels in comfort and features, if not in styling. A 2011 makeover promises more pizazz.
Color: I love the subtle shade of blue. Classy.
Comfort: My back appreciated these seats and their lumbar adjustments.
Transmission: I loved it in Nissan's Z car, and I liked it here.
Note: Sorry folks, Lyra was on vacation when this car was reviewed.