New car reviews

2006 Infiniti M45

Rival usurpers

, Sun, 16 Oct 2005 08:00:00 PDT

Two amazing dramas are playing out simultaneously with the new-for-2005 Cadillac STS and the new-for-2006 Infiniti M45. At stage left, both of these full-size sport-touring sedans now pose-in their own ways and after years of near-misses-direct threats to European dominance in this flagship segment. Meanwhile, over at stage right these U.S. and Japanese upstarts happen so closely to resemble one another in features, specifications, performance and price that their ostensibly polite rivalry threatens to devolve into a grudge match.

This is real progress. Sport-touring enthusiasts and sport-luxury aficionados are singularly devoted to certain qualities in their cars: rear-wheel-drive powertrains; potent overhead-cam engines; roomy interiors graced with impeccable woods and leathers; and clever comfort and entertainment gadgets. Heretofore, the Germans and the Anglos have stood the high ground almost alone. Now, Cadillac is storming up the west flank as Infiniti takes the east flank in what looks to become a marketplace mele over crown, scepter and recognition as King of the Hill.

For 2006, the M45 is all-new, and the automotive world is a better place for it. Infiniti's latest M-car, in other words, shares little or nothing with its M-monickered predecessors from prior years.It is uncanny to compare Infiniti's grand-tourer with Cadillac's and to discover such a similarity of features: variable valve timing, heated/cooling front seats, keyless access, available GPS navigation and satellite radio. Even fuel economies are almost identical: 17 mpg/city, 23 mpg/highway for M45 (with premium), 17 mpg/city, 24 mpg/highway for STS V6 (with regular). But beneath the surface equivalencies, the differences are profound.

For starters, just look at the styling. If STS looks like a carven block of hard cheese, M45 looks like an egg of Silly Putty left in the sun. If the STS interior still harbors hints of standard-issue GM, M45's billowing leather and wood suggests nothing so much as a Chris Craft luxury yacht at harbor's berth. Moreover, despite slightly shorter exterior dimensions overall, M45 still provides more front head-, hip- and legroom and a larger trunk than STS.



2006 Infiniti M45 Sport

2006 Infiniti M45 Sport

2006 Infiniti M45 Sport

2006 Infiniti M45 Sport

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