IT’S BEEN a tough ride for Infiniti in South Africa. A quick glance at the Naamsa sales figures shows that the Porsche 911 outsells the entire Infiniti range put together. Not good for a company that competes with the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
The problem, I think, lies with the average ages of the models Infiniti has on sale in South Africa. Every model in their line-up has been available overseas for some time. As a result, they are outclassed and outperformed when you compare them to the latest fare from the German manufacturers.
That’s why I was so excited to drive the Infiniti M. It’s the youngest of the models available in South Africa and I was expecting it to be a legitimate alternative to the current segment leaders.
Power-wise, it’s right up there with the best. I had the opportunity to sample both engines offered in the M and found both to be perfectly acceptable and highly competitive compared to other products of the same price. The 3.7-litre petrol V6 is quick to respond to throttle inputs and it has a nice growl, but the diesel makes a lot more sense on a day-to-day basis.
The 3.0-litre diesel powertrain produces 175kW and a whopping 550Nm of torque. Infiniti claims it will accelerate to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and only run out of steam at 250km/h. An average fuel consumption of 7.5 litres/100km equates to a cruising range of over 1 300km, which means the driver will be spending a lot of time behind the wheel before they have to get out.
It’s a good thing the M is as comfortable as it is. Time spent behind the wheel of this car is as comforting and cosseting as relaxing in a hot bath. The ride is smooth as glass and the interior is eerily quiet and devoid of any noises or vibrations that might deteriorate the driving experience. The best way to drive this car is to sit back and let it take care of everything. All you have to do is point and shoot.
Unlike the EX I drove before, the M does a grand job of hiding its Nissan roots. There’s still a 370Z button here and there, but overall it feels worthy of the premium price tag.
As is the case with every other Infiniti out there, the M is equipped to the hilt with luxury items. The list is far too long to mention here, but suffice it to say that you won’t be left wanting in the tech and safety department.
The navigation and in-car entertainment system, however, deserves a special mention. It’s wonderfully intuitive and easy to use. Thanks to a premium speaker system, it makes a properly loud noise as well.
To date, the M is the best Infiniti I’ve had the pleasure of driving. It matches the luxury levels and power output of its German rivals and adds a dash of exclusivity to the mix.
I wouldn’t go as far as calling it class-leading, but it’s an interesting alternative to the obvious choices. It’s also a proper showcase for what Infiniti is capable of and it makes me wonder how good the recently revealed Q50 is going to be when it lands in South Africa.
Could it be the first class leader for this young upstart company? I can’t wait for it to arrive to find out.