Home » Here’s Why The 2006-10 Infiniti M45 Is The Greatest Sports Sedan You Forgot About

Here’s Why The 2006-10 Infiniti M45 Is The Greatest Sports Sedan You Forgot About

2006 Infiniti M 14 Ts1
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For people who want a moderately engaging drive, the midsize luxury sedan of choice always has been and likely always will be the BMW 5 Series. While models with naturally-aspirated inline-six engines are often excellent, BMW has historically, shall we say, struggled to produce reliable V8 engines. You know, the sort of engines that really get your heart rate going. But what if I told you there was a time when the Japanese beat BMW at its own game with a gadget-heavy luxury sedan that knew how to cut a rug? The 2006 to 2010 Infiniti M, especially the V8-powered M45, is one seriously underrated luxury car you’re probably sleeping on because it looks as beige as buttered bread.

Welcome back to Beige Cars You’re Sleeping On, a weekly series in which we raise the profile of some quiet greats. We’re talking vehicles that are secretly awesome, but go unsung because of either a boring image or the lack of an image altogether.

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On first glance, you might think that this car looks quite dull, and I’d agree. The 2006 to 2010 Infiniti M45 has styling in the same sense that Subway offers chicken. There just isn’t much to write home about on the outside of the M45, so that satisfies the beige criteria.

2006 Infiniti M 12 Source

However, things get substantially less beige under the skin. Not only does this thing ride on a lengthened, stiffened version of the longitudinal FM platform underpinning the Nissan 350Z and the, um, current Nissan Z, said platform sports forged aluminum control arms and multi-link front and rear suspension for harnessing what’s under the hood of the M45: a 4.5-liter VK45DE quad-cam V8 making 335 horsepower and 340 lb.-ft. of torque. Hitched to a five-speed automatic transmission with downshift rev matching, this powertrain hauled the hefty Infiniti from a dead stop to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, as per Car And Driver instrumented testing.

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If the original owner ticked the box for the sport package, they also got enough go-fast goodies to pop a monocle or two. That mix of options included rear wheel steering, 19-inch wheels, sports suspension, heated and cooled sport seats, adaptive xenon headlights for nighttime winding road driving, real aluminum interior trim, aluminum pedal facings, and what Infiniti called a “sport-stitched steering wheel,” whatever that means.

2006 Infiniti M 15 Source

The result is a car that goes and turns alarmingly well for something with a Maytag’s visual appeal. The first time Car And Driver brought an M45 Sport out for a comparison test against the Jaguar S-Type 4.2, Cadillac STS V8, BMW 530i, Audi A6 4.2, Mercedes-Benz E350, Lexus GS430, and Acura RL, it beat the lot of them. As per C&D, “That the M45 can combine the crazy laughter of a sports fiend with the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie to the extent it has is good reason for it to stand at the top of the heap.”

Two years later, Car And Driver would send the M45 into battle with some bigger fish — the Lexus GS450h, the Mercedes-Benz E550, and the BMW 550i. Care to guess what happened? The Infiniti won again, partly because of its strong value and partly because it’s damn fun for a luxury sedan of this size. As Car And Driver put it:

The logbook commentary seemed to favor the Infiniti for its eagerness—a light steering touch with good feedback, brisk turn-in, quick transitions, a general sense of being quick on its feet that made the Bimmer’s responses seem a tad heavy and, well, Teutonic.

Granted, a VK45DE V8 and rear-wheel-drive wasn’t the only powertrain on offer. Through 2008, the M35 got a 280-horsepower VQ35DE V6, available all-wheel-drive, and the same five-speed automatic transmission as the M45. For 2008, the M45 gained the option of all-wheel-drive, and 2009 saw the introduction of a 303-horsepower VQ35HR on M35 models and a seven-speed automatic transmission on rear-wheel-drive M35s.

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That’s the sport side of the luxury sport sedan equation locked in, so what about luxury? Well, the 2006 to 2010 M45 was available with some truly astonishing kit for the time that makes it seem almost modern. Believe it or not, you could get this thing with lane departure warning, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

2006 Infiniti M 19 Source

Rear seat entertainment? Yep, that’s on the menu, along with a 14-speaker Bose 5.1 surround sound system and a navigation system that was fairly advanced for the time. Speaking of advanced for the time, how about adaptive cruise control and a backup camera? This thing’s basically one CarPlay retrofit away from feeling bang up-to-date, but with the tactile inputs of something from a previous decade.

2006 Infiniti M 08 Source

Of equal importance, the cabin offers a more welcoming ambience than a mid-aughts 5 Series did. A choice of real wood or real aluminum, silky leathers, and soft-touch plastic abounds. From the cold metal shifter bezel to the subtle analog clock to available speakers in the front seatbacks, there’s a real air of mid-aughts luxury to this thing.

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08 Infiniti M45 X(blue) S (white)

Things got even better in 2008, when the M received a mid-cycle facelift. In addition to subtly revised looks, blue interior lighting replacing amber, and revised infotainment buttons, the options list ballooned to include a hard drive-based navigation system, lane departure prevention, and a 9.3 gigabyte music jukebox. Think of how much Death Cab For Cutie you could store on that thing.

Infiniti M45 Sport Autotrader

Because the M35 and M45 never had quite the same snob appeal as a Lexus GS, they’re surprisingly cheap cars today. While V8 cars are thin on the ground, you’ll typically find driver-spec M45 Sport examples in the neighborhood of $7,000. In fact, here’s one for $5,995 in Oklahoma City with 138,191 miles on the clock.

Infiniti M35 Craigslist

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Unusually, there doesn’t seem to be massive price disparity between V8 and early V6 models, although the 2006 to 2008 M35s are easier to find on the ground. This 2007 M35x is listed on Craigslist in Pasadena for $6,000, and has covered 154,090 miles since new. Not only is this an all-wheel-drive model, it also has heated and cooled front seats, a lovely luxury on a hot summer day.

Infiniti M35 Autotrader

Late M35s with the 303-horsepower V6 and the seven-speed automatic transmission pull a bit of a premium, possibly because of how well the VQ35HR responds to bolt-ons. Figure around $10,000 for a decent-looking one, like this 147,000-mile 2010 car for sale in Rancho Cordova, Calif. for $9,995.

2006 Infiniti M 05 Source

If you’re looking for a mid-sized slice of the good life on a reasonable budget, go try out a 2006 to 2010 Infiniti M, preferably the M45. It’s still a surprisingly good car without many of the maintenance pitfalls that come with a Bavarian badge. Provided you aren’t looking for the added engagement of a manual gearbox, the M45 Sport will out-dance the E60 5 Series in the twisties, amaze passengers with lavish equipment, and go completely under the radar. Tempting, isn’t it?

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(Photo credits: Infiniti, Autotrader, Craigslist)

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Ryan L
Ryan L
11 days ago

my neighbor who works for a dealer in financing moved down from a S6 to one of these a couple of years ago and it’s honestly the longest he’s held a car I think. Must dig it.

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
12 days ago

When Infiniti gave a shit! They made some excellent, competitive products in the aughts.

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