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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John Welsh
John Welsh
2 months ago

Next up, the even lesser know ’11-’19 Infiniti M56 (later Q70.) That’s right, 5.6L of massaged Nissan Titan full sized truck engine stuffed into a non-descript, sort of bland, sleeper of a sedan. 420hp! Could be had as rwd or awd in short wheelbase or extended wheelbase.
Also was offered as M37 with 3.7L V6 producing 330 hp. Make note that the M45 and the 4.5L only produced 325 hp

Jeremy
Jeremy
2 months ago

I am the owner of a 2007 M45 S with 77K original miles. I purchased it after owning a GS400. The M54 is so much more fun to drive. I love the acceleration, handling and sound of the exhaust. It is also very reliable. I have not had to do anything except regular maintenance (brakes, battery, oil change). My only complaint is with the interior. The quality of the materials is not as good as Lexus and I am starting to see more wear and tear on the seat and dash area. I have thought of getting something newer, but I cannot because the car brings a smile to my face each time I merge on the highway.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
2 months ago

The silhouette of these read a little bit Maxima to me. I am unsure if I realized it wasn’t a re-badge until this article. The 2002-2004 generation were the real lookers. The ad for the one for sale in Florida said only 8000 were sold in the USandA.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
2 months ago

The first gen was such a better looker though…

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago

I haven’t seen one of these … or at least noticed one… in a while. I actually really liked them when they came out, for the sleeper aspect, also, compared to its contemporary Nissan siblings, it had a very clean look to it.

Excuse me while I go check Martketplace for listings.

LBA Oak
LBA Oak
2 months ago

I owned a 2008 M45 model and all of what is said above is true. It was just an amazing car and I loved it. The only (not really) bad thing was it was so smooth you could easily be doing 95 and not feel like you were going more than 60. Loved it but I am absolutely amazed I didn’t get a ton of speeding tickets.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
2 months ago
Reply to  LBA Oak

Was it reliable?

LBA Oak
LBA Oak
2 months ago

It was. I kept the oil changed and all the routine maintenance done and it was very reliable. I have no complaints. As a matter of fact, one of my coworkers has an M35 version he’s still daily driving although he mentioned that it’s just about time to get something a little newer. I’ll check and see when his started to wear down and lead to new car envy.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  LBA Oak

Yes, inquiring minds want to know about reliability!

LBA Oak
LBA Oak
2 months ago
Reply to  LBA Oak

The thing that really sold me on the car. The AC seats. Living in Dallas, TX at the time those were the most amazing things. I don’t understand why they’re not more common.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
2 months ago

I didn’t know this car existed until someone driving one jumped a median and busted his oil pan leaving the Wilmington Cars and Coffee this past weekend. Surprise I guess?

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
2 months ago

Had no idea people consider these boring/plain – I’ve liked them since they first came out.

Also, is this where the natural/’open-pore’ wood trim got started? Hard to think of a car before these that didn’t have over-lacquered wood.

Mike B
Mike B
2 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

I think today they’re “plain”, in their day I think they were quite clean and sleek looking. I remember really liking the styling compared to other Nissan products of that era.

Toddyus
Toddyus
2 months ago

These were excellent cars. We had a 2006 M35. Thing was loaded. It even had power reclining back seats. On the styling, I get why it meets the beige criterion, but I would argue that at the time, this was the antidote to BMW’s Bangle-butt styling and quite handsome.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago

All of these Ms are fantastic. I test-drove one years ago, I didn’t buy it because it was pretty beat up and there was no word on the state of the timing service.
But damn, that thing was a baller. Like driving an old Impala with a 409, but modern comfort, handling, brakes, and tech.
Now I want that one in OKC!

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
2 months ago

I had a 2002 Q45 with the same motor. I have to concur, that engine was glorious in a sleeper looking rig. The interior of the Q was nearly S-class, it felt like driving a La-Z-Boy. Really miss that car and I may get a used G90 to get that feel again.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
2 months ago
Reply to  TDI in PNW

And some of the coolest headlights ever put on a car!

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
2 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Those gatling gun lights are nice looking, especially for an ’02. A few people asked if I installed them, but nope; factory. Nissan was more interesting back then.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
2 months ago
Reply to  TDI in PNW

The sad decline of Nissan since approximately the mid-00s breaks my heart.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
2 months ago

That interior is ace.

George CoStanza
George CoStanza
2 months ago

The boxier design of the prior gen was my favorite M45. Nissan/Infiniti was turning out some competitively priced challengers to BMW’s crown in the early aughts.
The interior designs just didn’t hold up. Looked fresh and innovative but aged like milk…or post plastic surgery Kenny Rogers.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
2 months ago

So, if it came with a VQ35HR that means a CD009 or CD00A transmission can bolt up to it and likely even use the same mounts or crossmembers as the 350/370 and G35/G37…

YALE70
YALE70
2 months ago

Always liked had a soft spot for this generation M. Nicer interior than the G35 and optional V8 grunt, though the less expensive G felt just good enough by comparison to where it kinda took some of wind out of it’s sails.

I’d really like to try the newer M56 if I can find one nearby.

Last edited 2 months ago by YALE70
Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
2 months ago

I think the previous gen M45 is cooler, but there is nothing wrong with this one.

Costs less than Lexus yet still more reliable than anything from Europe.So basically a high-end Altima LOL

Yeah the Altima is popular because it doesn’t have the Honda/Toyota Tax but is almost as good as them. Infiniti’s cars are just high-end versions of the same theme, and of course, luxury cars depreciate even faster.

Speaking of Nissan, a holy grail type car popped up in my head: the 98-99 Sentra SE. It has the SR20 from the G20 and 200SX SE-R but in 4-door Sentra form. This is important because the 200SX only has 2 doors, and the G20 cost more. So the Sentra SE gave you a 4-door SR20 without the Infiniti premium.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

But is it better or more forgotten than the Lexus GS 400?

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
2 months ago

The Infiniti Ms from this period are excellent cars. I actually prefer the M35 which feels slightly lighter on its feet than the M45. I think the styling seems bland because Nissan used some derivative of it on sooooo many cars (Altima, Maxima, etc).

It also didn’t help that the G35 was available as a slightly cheaper more sporty stablemate. The Ms had much nicer interiors and equipment – but the wood also made them seem more stogy and less fun to some buyers. Prices have slipped low enough now that many have been abused making good ones hard to find.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

Q Ship with an M Badge.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was always something ‘Meh’ about these cars. I’m not saying that was fair, but it was there.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Unlike BMW/Merc/Audi/Lexus, Infiniti was never able to define a cohesive design language across their models. They all look pretty generic, and I think this is the “meh” we’re feeling.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
2 months ago

Yeah, they’ve all got that GTA ‘I’ll drive this til I can jack something cooler’ styling, haven’t they? It’s just slightly off.

Kyree
Kyree
2 months ago

I always liked these. I remember when someone in our neighborhood, who was the top salesman at the INFINITI dealer, got an M45S as a demo car.

Since you mentioned the GS, I should note that the contemporary third-gen GS with the V8 was and is much harder to find. The carryover 4.3-liter in the GS 430 (2006-2007) was nothing to write home about and was uncommon enough. The GS 460 was so rare, it sold 1,616 examples in 2008 and then became special-order only after that. Lexus sold 56 GS 460s in 2009 and 43 in 2010.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
2 months ago

Oh hell yeah!

So, not to out myself. But my drift rig is the generation previous M45 (y34), which is the same car with the S-chassis front end instead of the Z-chassis.

First these things are dirt cheap for what they are. I paid 1000 bucks for mine last summer. Drove it 70 miles home, while getting into a street race with a STI and doing some fat donuts in a high school parking lot. Then got in it the next day and drove it to work.

VK45 absolutely shreds. All-aluminum expect for titanium valve springs. And it’s a VVTI V8. I’m running Titan shorty headers into straight pipes and it sounds glorious. The one event I brought it to, rumors were going it was Ferrari swapped. Down side, zero aftermarket. It’s the same block as a VK56, so Titan stuff works, but getting over 400 whp sans nitrous hasn’t been done.

Also these things are mid-engine. Which not super noticeable on Z-chassis FM platform. But very noticeable here. As the CedGlo platforms were never meant to have a V8, it barely hits in there. We halfway pulled the engine to put the driver side header on.

I liked this car so much (and realized that there was none) I painted over my Mercedes logo outside the shop and became a Infiniti specialist. It’s just built to hoon. Like a Mustang and a 5 series made sweet lover over a copy of SuperStreet.

Anyways, I could write a multiple page love letter to these things. Instead everyone go spend 2k and get a donut machine.

Last edited 2 months ago by EmotionalSupportBMW
Kyree
Kyree
2 months ago

They’re front-midship (which is why the platform is called the FM platform), meaning the engine sits entirely behind the front axle. That’s a type of mid-engine layout, but that’s different than the conventional description of a mid-engine car, wherein the engine sits behind the occupants, but still between the front and rear axles.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
2 months ago
Reply to  Kyree

Mid-engine implying RMR/RM4 is a colloquialism. If it goes between the axle, it’s mid. Even wacky French FMF creations a la Citron.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
2 months ago

Ive never liked the “all extremities of the engine is between the axles” definition of mid engined. There is zero practical difference between front engined and front mid, and even the semantic difference is so tenuous: a Miata is front mid but if you put a slightly longer engine in it it would cease to be. My pickup is front engined, not mid, but if you put a four cylinder in it it would fit neatly behind the axle.

And then there’s the nonsense of Porsche deciding that the 911 is mid engined because although the engine is on top of the rear axle, the center of gravity of the engine is in front of the rear axle.

Kyree
Kyree
2 months ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I did not know Porsche was claiming that. Wild!

Kyree
Kyree
2 months ago

You’re not technically wrong.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
2 months ago

I used to love the Gloria-based M45, odd proportions and all. When they moved to the Skyline chassis, they became just a bit too boring for me. Certainly, the performance improved, but the styling just never really spoke to me.

Nowadays, it seems like if I see a M35 or M45, it is either on a “buy here, pay here” lot, on its fifth owner and beat to within an inch of its life, or in absolutely pristine condition and driven 10mph under the speed limit by the retiree owner.

Von Baldy
Von Baldy
2 months ago

I had completely forgot about this car, but itd have to be a v8 and not a v6, otherwise id spring for g35 sedan

A q45 would be a bit more fun in the v8 tank dept

Acid Tonic
Acid Tonic
2 months ago

To me its too frumpy.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
2 months ago
Reply to  Acid Tonic

That’s exactly why it’s a beige sleeper

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
2 months ago
Reply to  Acid Tonic

I would have said that once. But I’ll be 52 in a month, and with each passing year, I like sleepers more and more, and “F around and find out” gets funnier and funnier.

Speed Racer
Speed Racer
2 months ago

I’m a few years older than you, and I can relate. Yesterday a “kid” in a Mustang found out just how fast a G37 is. I had a good laugh at his expense.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

credit for the Death Cab ref

Oldhusky
Oldhusky
2 months ago

Queueing up We Have the Facts right now

Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
2 months ago
Reply to  Oldhusky

We’re Voting YESSSSSSS

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
2 months ago

My boss, around the time of this car, played I Will Follow You Into The Dark on repeat. Literally the only song he listened to

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
2 months ago

Oof. As a person who does not mind Death Cab at all, that’s a weird vibe for work.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
2 months ago

It was weird. We’d also stand at the front of our store and disco dance in our suits pretty frequently. Overall, very awesome place to work

Last edited 2 months ago by Morgan van Humbeck
Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
2 months ago

Oh, that’s good weird.

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