Style & substance in one luxurious package.
As you could guess from the name, the Infiniti M56 Sports is powered by a 5.6-liter V8 making 402 hp @ 6,000RPM and a decent 565Nm of torque @ 4,400RPM. Mated to the 7-speed auto transmission with Adaptive Shift Control, the M56 Sports propels from 0 to 100kmph in 5 seconds flat.
The rear wheel drive is firm around the corners, taking into account the body weight and understeer, the M56 Sports handles pretty well. The stability control nannies at work do allow a little bit of fun to be had, but try and stretch the limits and they come down hard with the throttle control and brakes taking over instantly.
Driver assists were similar to the ones I found on the JX35, with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning & assist, blind side warning & assist as well as front collision warning and reverse parking brake assist. In all cases, the ‘assist’ usually means that the M56 Sports computer system will apply a little bit of braking automatically to prevent you from making a careless mistake. Of course, if you’re overspeeding or changing lanes too harshly, no amount assists and warning can help.
I must I wasn’t quite happy with the 7-speed gearbox in the M56 Sports, as it didn’t quite behave as responsively as I have come to expect from cars in this class; the Audi A6 and Jaguar XF had it nailed down.
First off you have to really ease in the accelerator, otherwise you’ll end up with very abrupt starts where the car lurches forward as if you’re stuck on first gear in a manual. Once you get a hang of things, however, the power delivery is not only smooth, but enthusiastic as the V8 likes to go all the way to the 6,700RPM redline rather easily. Another problem faced was that in Standard mode the gear doesn’t like to downshift unless you really floor the pedal, and by the time it drops a gear (or two) the ‘moment’ is just gone. On the other hand while in Sports mode the gearbox doesn’t like to upshift easily, keeping you on your toes for the majority of the time with high revs.
This strange behavior of the gearbox works rather counterintuitive to the comfort and luxury exuded by the M56 Sports. Indeed had it not been for the gearbox the M56 would have been one of the best models in Infiniti’s lineup.
Still, when all things are considered, the Infiniti M56 Sports is not only one of the most stylish and luxurious executive sedans in the market, but also one of the most powerful and brilliantly handling ones as well. Marred by the dyslexic gearbox and muted engine, the M56 Sports is nonetheless an excellent choice in this very competitive segment.