2012 Infiniti M35h

2012 Infiniti M35h hybrids

There's no doubt about it, in response to environmental concerns and new fuel economy regulations, hybrids are slowly taking over as the mainstream vehicle of choice. Although the luxury hybrid market is only starting to come alive�with the venerable Lexus offerings now standing alongside newer contestants like the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid�the entrance of the 2012 M35h marks something special: it's the world's first car to offer good fuel economy, incredible performance and decadent luxury in one package. Up to this point all luxury hybrids have been full of compromises�with fuel economy taking a back seat to performance.

Is the Infiniti 2012 M35h perfect? I recently had a chance to test drive the 2012 M35h ahead of its market availability in April 2011. The 2012 Infiniti M35h is the only car that gets better than 30 mpg on the highway and has 350 horsepower. The U.S. EPA estimates that the 2012 M35h will get 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg highway�resulting in a combined fuel economy of 29 mpg. In addition to coaching tools, many hybrids have an "Eco Mode"�or similarly named option�that will adjust the way the vehicle operates to prevent you from pushing too hard on the gas pedal or alter when the car shifts gears to help conserve fuel. The 2012 Infiniti M35h is no exception, proudly sporting an Eco Mode as a main feature.

After driving the Infiniti 2012 M35h for the better part of two hours in Eco Mode my right foot hurt from having to exert extra pressure on the gas pedal. To an 2012 M35h driver, the hybrid powertrain provides more power than the lesser-priced M37's V6 engine and is a better performing car. Ignoring the complexities of the argument, most new electric vehicle manufacturers have addressed this issue by including the option for drivers to turn on warning sounds. The Infiniti 2012 M35h can drive in EV mode at speeds up to 60 mph for distances as far as one mile at a time. As the luxury brand of Nissan, Infiniti took the sounds that were developed for the Leaf and incorporated them into the 2012 M35h�resulting in what Infiniti says is the first hybrid with built-in pedestrian alert sounds.

The audible warning system is dubbed Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) and creates a variety of distinctive sounds to warn those outside the car that it's headed their way. The noise shifts from high to low frequency depending on the vehicle's speed, and it's loudest when the Infiniti 2012 M35h starts to move to alert those nearby. An intermittent sound is also emitted when the vehicle is reversing. Infiniti's VSP development team worked with cognitive and acoustic psychologists to study pedestrian-behavioral patterns and noise pollution in developing appropriate warnings.

With the Infiniti 2012 M35h, Infiniti copied Lexus' idea of designing a hybrid system for performance rather than all out fuel economy. As such, the hybrid uses Infiniti's 3.5-liter V-6 coupled to an electric motor to produce a combined 360 horsepower.

The hybrid system uses a single, 50-kW (67-horsepower) electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery to deliver motive power directly to the seven-speed automatic transmission. In addition to being Infiniti's first hybrid, the 2012 M35h is also the world's first hybrid to come standard with pedestrian alert technology. Infiniti is the first automaker to offer such a system, accurately dubbed Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians, as standard on its new hybrid.

When decelerating, the system kicks back in below 15 mph.


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