ONE of the most important things a car manufacturer needs to think about these days is launching a car with a low CO2 output figure.
It’s a trusted and indisputable indicator of how much a vehicle pollutes the atmosphere, by quantifying how much carbon dioxide should normally be found in the emissions from the car’s exhaust.
And it’s been a bit of a headache for luxury car makers like Infiniti, which is proud of the smooth and powerful petrol engines that propel its top models.
The trouble is, while Infiniti drivers will always enjoy their big engines, the car industry is steering towards a time when we’re being forced to ditch our gas guzzlers and seek out cars with the lowest CO2 output figures possible.
But what if we could still have a large luxurious saloon car with a powerful V6 engine that puts out less carbon dioxide than a mini? Infiniti’s new hybrid might just be the answer to our prayers.
Yes, yes, I know what you’re now thinking. Hybrid equals boring; right? Wrong. The M35h might look a bit old hat and it might have an interior made of wood and leather, but beneath all the curves and carpets beats the heart of a true monster.
Sitting uner the bonnet is a double overhead camshaft 3.5-litre 24-valve V6 engine that revs to 9,000rpm. Still thing it sounds boring?
It’s good for 302bhp and 258lb/ft of torque but, remember, there’s an electric motor to throw in to the mix yet and, that alone generates 67bhp. Put your foot down and these two work together to give nearly 370bhp, enabling the car to reach 60mph in 5.5 seconds. Still think it sounds boring?
So it’s not the most attractive car on the road but those curves are designed to make it aerodynamic and if you were to park it next to the latest BMW 5-series you’d actually find it much more attractive.
Ininiti being the posh big brother to Nissan, the M35h’s electric kit owes a lot to the Nissan Leaf electric car. And that’s no bad thing. It’s not as if the M35h is just a big, fast executive saloon with a motor and batteries bolted on, it feels every bit a polished and sorted hybrid car.
That’s not to say it drives like a Toyota Prius though. Far from it. While lesser hybrids, the cars in which fuel economy is king, will try their utmost to switch to its electric motors at all times, the Infiniti remains a petrol-powered car most of the time.
Keep it out of ‘eco’ mode and you’ll not see the motor chime in unless you’re really crawling along. And even then you’d hardly be able to tell which power system is being used as everything is so quiet.
A display on either the instrument or dashboard LCDs will give it away but you soon get the feeling that, in normal driving, the electric system is only there to help you glide through stop-start traffic, or from one end of a city to another.
The result of a second, completely free and self-charging powertrain taking over when the going gets slow, is impressive fuel economy. Infiniti reckons it’s good for 40mpg on a combined cycle and, in practice, it’s even possible to better that on the right road.
A reminder at this point - this is a 3.5 litre petrol V6 that gets from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds.
While the speed at which it travels in a straight line is nothing short of staggering, its cornering abilities are less impressive. It’s not a bad car to drive and, by no means unwieldy but there are sports saloons for around the same money that will out-perform it.
Oh, yes, the money. A basic M35h - and ‘basic’ in Infiniti terms is still very generously equipped - will set you back a shade over £42,000. Opt for the premium model, which comes with all sorts of goodies including adaptive cruise control, an integral air freshener and a stunning Bose sound system and you’re looking at a start price of £46,000.
But, remember, Infiniti is a company that doesn’t like to force its customers to tick boxes. If you were to spec up one of its rivals to the same level it’d cost a lot more.
Saying that, it would probably depreciate slower and it wouldn’t have had to sacrifice half its boot for a load of electric gubbins. And it might look a bit more modern.
But it’s hard not to find yourself wanting an M35h. To find a car that is so capable and yet so cheap to run is a rare thing in this day and age.
It’s supremely comfortable, very well specced, spacious and very fast.
If you’re about to pick up your chequebook and write ‘Jaguar’ or ‘BMW’ on the top line, take a moment and try the M35h. You might be pleasantly surprised.