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Tuesday 1st July 2003


INIFINITI M45

Nauman Farooq checks out the Infiniti M45

Here in Canada, we're blessed with an extra choice of big saloons comparedwith you Brits. If you're seeking a 300+ hp V8 in the same mould as the 7 seriesor even the Mercedes S Class you're not limited to the Lexus - there's Infinititoo. Nissan's luxury brand does it's best to eat into that niche with a cheaperoffering - the M45.

Despite its size - it's over 16 feet long - it's an appealing looking car.This is not some soft, curvy designer's wet dream, but a sharp edged statementof intent. It has slab sides, sharp edges and stunning 18-inch rims.

The car I was handed by Nissan Canada came in the stunning Emerald Greencolour and could have done justice to premium British brands let alone Infiniti.

To me, this is what a proper sports sedan should look like - not the bloatedhippo look granted to the new Jaguar XJ sedan. Inside there are acres of woodand leather, all of a very high quality. Nothing fake or cheap in here either.The quality of the fit and finish is very good indeed, and it is sumptuouslyappointed. Seats that have ten different adjustment controls. Seats that heatyour rear and blast cool air up it when the going gets hot and sweaty.

Gadget wise there's a 7 speaker, 225 watt Bose sound system, a power tiltingand telescopic steering wheel, and most impressive of all, a truly fabulousnavigation system. The Infiniti system even has a birds-eye view of the map,which is really nice. It shows you everything, even gas stations, bank machinesand food outlets. My only criticism this would get is due to its high positionon the dash, on really sunny days it gets very hard to read.

Just when you thought you've seen all that this car can offer, you discoverthe Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC). This system monitors the distance betweenyou and the car ahead via a laser, and can accelerate and decelerate on its own.ICC works both the brakes and the accelerator, and you can pick 3 settings forkeeping your distance. So, you can follow someone close or very far. If someonewas to pounce in your path and slow down rapidly, the system alerts you bybeeping four times, telling you to take control before stepping in itself ifnecessary.

Straight Up

Being a big car, it's not the sort too hurl around twisty roads. The massive18-inch rims shod with 235/45 VR18 Michelin tires provide tons of grip, but withthe soft suspension, all you get in corners is massive body roll. The seats alsodon't hold you around corners and the steering at any speed feelsuncommunicative and a bit heavy. All this quickly tells you, B-road thrashing isnot what this car was designed for. Straight line punch however, it is more thancapable of handling. With that massive 4.5 litre, V8, sending a beefy 340 hp toits rear wheels, it would easily see its way past most traffic.

The only transmission you get is a five-speed automatic, with manual shiftoptions, that has a real mechanical feel, which is great. The famed 0-60 mph runwould take a mere 5.6 seconds, and if you keep that pedal buried long enough youshould see the speedometer nudging 150 mph.

High Speed

However, high-speed antics are not encouraged due to its lofty ride, and alsodue to the wind noise created by its square edged body. My test car also had aproblem with the seal on the drivers side window, which allowed for anunpleasant whistle inside the cabin, but I am sure that seal problem can beeasily fixed.

However, the large pillarless doors do look good. So, this isn't exactly asports sedan, it is a luxury sedan with very powerful legs. Where it excels atmost is on those long motorway journeys. You can simply get on the highway andturn on the ICC and simply cruise to your destination, listening to yourfavourite tunes on the stereo and relaxing on those comfy seats.

Just make sure you have enough gas before you head out, cause this car is abit thirsty. But, what do you expect from a V8?

Price: In Canada, the M45 is available in two trim levels, Sport or Sportwith Navi and ICC. The former is priced at CAN$62,000 and the later atCAN$67,000. This is great value once you look at what you get for your money.This car is quite a lot cheaper than a Mercedes-Benz S500 or the BMW 745i, whilegiving you possibly even more features. Good value here for those that don'tcare for badge snobbery.