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2011 Infiniti M56S Luxury Sport Sedan Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Infiniti, Test Drives


The all-new 2011 Infiniti M56 Sport luxury sedan is the brand’s latest ‘dream machine’ loaded with style, power, performance, comfort, luxurious amenities and the latest safety features like few other vehicles on the road today.

The all-new M56S is a showcase for Infiniti’s advanced, user-focused technologies, carrying on the tradition of the previous generation M.  These new technologies include Infiniti Drive Mode Selector which is a four-mode driver-selectable control of throttle and transmission mapping that helps optimize vehicle performance-Eco, Standard, Sport and Snow.  It also adjusts 4-wheel Active Steer settings with the optional Sport Package and Active Trace Control and Eco Pedal with the optional Technology Package.  Active Noise Control reduces undesirable engine harmonics, providing a quieter cabin.  Blind Spot Warning (BSW) helps alert you if another vehicle is detected in the blind spot area.

Blind Sport Intervention (BSI) is the world’s first system that, in the event of unintended drift, enhances BSW with selective braking to help you return the vehicle back toward the center of the lane of travel away from the vehicle in the blind spot area.  Forest Air system helps reduce the intrusion of unpleasant odors into the cabin and provides a more natural breeze-like airflow.  Eco Pedal provides driver feedback to encourage eco-driving behavior when the selector is set to Eco Mode.  Active Trace Control adjusts engine torque and the control of braking at each of the four wheels to help enhance cornering performance.  Double-piston shock absorbers control damping force according to frequency of input from the road surface.  Enhanced Intelligent Key memorizes your last audio, navigation and climate control settings for each key (in addition to linking to seat, steering wheel and side view mirror positions through the dual occupant memory system.

The all-new M56S also offers a next-generation Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System, Bose Studio Surround premium audio system, Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Lance Departure Prevention (LDP) systems, Distance Control Assist (DCA), Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Front Pre-Crash Seat Belts.  And these are just for starters!

The M56 is available in both rear-wheel drive and with Infiniti’s Intelligent all-wheel drive system. A special Sport Package, that I tested, offered on rear-wheel drive models only, offers 4-wheel Active Steer (4WAS), a sport-tuned suspension, Sport Brakes and 20in. wheels and tires.  The Sport Package really puts the M56S on the leading edge of high-performance luxury driving.

The all-new M is styled like the all-new G-Series but on steroids.  Building on the previous M’s balanced, rear-wheel drive proportions and stance-with a long, low hood and high rear deck-the new M maintains the roomy cabin of its predecessor while providing a longer, lower and wider shape with a front track increased by 1.5in., the rear track increased by 0.8in. and the chassis lowered by 0.3in.

Along with the more aggressive dimensions, the new M56S’s sportier appearance can be attributed to the deep body shape of the fenders and doors that give the M56S sedan a powerful look unlike anything on the road.

The new wave-style doors are constructed of aluminum for light weight, despite the material’s difficult formability.  The stamping dies for each door are hand polished to maintain their precision and every door undergoes an exacting human inspection, providing a handcrafted level of quality.

Like the previous M45S, the new M56S design optimizes both luxury and sport styling cues-with an expressive, unique front fascia highlighted with signature Infiniti dark, double-arch upright low grille, crystal-look headlight clusters, dark headlight housings and 20X9in. twin-fork 5spoke alloy wheels shod with Bridgestone Potenza low profile performance tires filling up the flared finders.  Increasing rear downforce is a wave-like trunk with a high aerodynamic end lip that works like a spoiler; while the lower front bumper features a unique spoiler enhancing downforce.

Underneath and unseen, though contributing to the new M56S’s low coefficient of drag of 0.27 and zero lift front and rear, are a series of aerodynamic enhancers including front tire deflector, engine under cover, center floor cover, rear tire deflectors, exhaust cover, floor side fairings and a rear diffuser.

Standard exterior features include a power sliding sunroof, automatic on/off HID bi-functional Xenon headlights with windshield wiper interlock, dual exhaust tips, wrap-around rear lamp clusters featuring LED lights, fog lamps, power-folding/heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature, rain-sensing variable intermittent front windshield wipers and courtesy lamps built into the outside chrome pull-out door handles.  You’ll also see a chrome strip inserted around the greenhouse glass and another chrome strip running from the end of the hood up and over the greenhouse to the beginning of the trunk.  The new lower side extensions give the M56S a lower center of gravity enhancing both stability and cornering capability.

An adaptive front lighting system with auto-leveling headlights is available as part of the Technology Package.  The rear trunk lid features the M56S badge, Infiniti lettering and two chrome trim pieces at the top and bottom of the license plate surround.  The all-new 2011 M56S is styled like no other luxury sport sedan on the market.

Open the wide opening front doors and you’ll soon appreciate the sumptuous, comfortable and precision engineered cabin with a focus centered around the driver.

M engineers and designers researched all areas of the M interior, from the space between and shape of switches and controls to the response of occupants to material softness and textures.  It is an elegant and functional design that combines artistry with precision, comfort and innovation, from the handcrafted wood accents, custom leather appointments, aluminum and chrome trim surrounding every control.  It is more sensory and alluring than ever before.

The dashboard again features a wave-like appearance with dark wood flowing on the front passenger side and a tumble down waterfall center stack that looks more like a 747 instrument panel.  The instrument cluster features large Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges with gear-like rings, a 7in. color vehicle information display and new Tonneau shaped analog clock.  The leather appointed, heated/cooled, 10-way power adjustable front bucket seats are so very comfortable and supportive.  A 2-driver memory system, electronic dual climate control with filtration, easy entry/exit system for the driver’s seat, illuminated entry system and power tilt/telescoping/leather-wrapped sport steering wheel are just a few of the standard features inside the M56S.

Standard technology equipment includes Bluetooth hand’s-free phone system, Infiniti Intelligent Key with illuminated Start/Stop ignition button, HomeLink Universal Transceiver and RearView monitor.

Even more standard interior features include one-touch up/down and auto-reverse windows, power door locks with automatic locking, power trunk release, retained accessory power, standard XM satellite radio and 6-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD, Radio Data System, USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, aluminum door guards with the Infiniti lettering, steering wheel audio control and speed-sensitive volume control, dual map lights, grab handles above each door, rear reading lamps, aluminum-faced foot pedals, wood covered center console with dual cupholders, ash tray, aluminum plate for the shift gate with a leather-wrapped/chrome stick, dual lighted vanity mirrors, flip-down sunglass case, pull-down armrest with dual cupholders, air vents behind the center console and air-vents below the front seats in the rear.

Listening to music or conversation in the M interior is a little easier thanks to the new Active Noise Control System, an industry first.  Standard on all 2011 M models, Active Noise Control uses sound to delete sound-generating ‘cancelling’ sound from four door speakers (and subwoofer for models equipped with a Bose sound system) to reduce unpleasant engine harmonics.  The cabin noise levels are monitored by two microphones located in the M’s ceiling, with no action needed from you or your passengers except to enjoy the quiet, comfortable cabin.

For buyers seeking a slightly higher level of features and technology, the Premium Package adds the next-generation Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System with an 8in. WVGA color touch-screen display, XM NavTraffic with Real-Time Traffic Information, XM NavWeather with Real-Time Weather and 3-day forecast, Zagat Restaurant Guide, Streaming Audio via Bluetooth and 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive.

The Premium Package also adds a Bose 2-channel 10-speaker audio system, heated steering wheel and heated/cooled front seats.  The Deluxe Touring Package adds the Bose Studio Surround sound system with digital 5.1-channel decoding and 16-speakers, including two personal speakers mounted on the shoulders of each front seat, power rear sunshade, radar cruise-control with distance control, unique quilted seat pattern with contrasting piping and additional seat bolstering, suede-like headliner and premium hand-stitched leather hood above the instrument cluster.

The real exciting action takes place from what lies under the skin of the all-new 2011 M56 Sport.  The all-new 5.6 liter VVEL, 32-valve, DOHC, all-aluminum, Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) V8 is rated at a ground shaking 420hp at 6,000rpm, and 417lb.ft. of torque at 4,400rpm.  the VVEL system combines hydraulic-controlled variable valve timing and electronically controlled variable valve lift on the intake side to help improve performance and response.  Throttle response is enhanced by directly controlling the intake valve, rather than using the traditional method of controlling intake with the throttle valve.  The VVEL system also offers improved emissions and fuel efficiency by substantially reducing the intake resistance that occurs when the engine’s throttle valve opening is narrowed and output is low.

The engine also features a rigid ladder frame construction, large crank journal and pin diameters, asymmetric piston skirts, twin knock sensors, an electronically controlled ‘drive-by-wire’ throttle system, molybdenum coated lightweight pistons, Iridium spark plugs and a symmetric twin air intake system.  The new DIG system provides better wide-open throttle performance and improved fuel economy and emissions performance by reducing engine knock, improving combustion and offers more precise injection control.

This potent V8 engine is mated to Infiniti’s 7-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and manual shift control with Downshift Rev Matching, which allows you to enjoy a more responsive blast from the 420hp engine.  Solid magnesium paddle shifters are also included in the Sport Package and give you even more control of your shifting and steering.  The all-new M56S blasts out to 60mph from a standstill in just 4.6sec.  That is plenty of acceleration that really got my heart pumping faster than it normally does.

A unique new feature is the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector, an integrated control system that allows you to select from four driving modes, depending on mood or driving conditions.  Located on the center console, ach mode-Standard-Eco-Sport-Snow, adjusts throttle sensitivity and transmission mapping to optimize the performance you want instantly.  The system also adjusts 4-Wheel Active Steering (4WAS) setting, available only with the Sport Package, and Active Trace Control and Eco Pedal.  In addition to the Standard driving mode, suitable for normal driving conditions, the fuel-efficient Eco mode utilizes a green or amber indicator light on the cluster to provide feedback directly through the accelerator pedal, giving a slight pushback if driving inefficiently.  The Sport mode increases throttle sensitivity and changes transmission shift patterns for sportier, more responsive reaction to you throttle inputs, while also adjusting 4-Wheel Active Steer.

The new M utilizes the advanced FM (front-mid-ship) platform, which positions the engine behind the front axle, resulting in an optimized front-to-rear weight balance.  In addition to increasing the number of places where the body joints are welded, laser welding is now performed at critical locations to help enhance lateral bending stiffness, torsional stiffness and suspension mounting point stiffness.

The real fun and enjoyment comes when you are driving at high speeds or dicing through curving roads and the new M56S comes through with flying colors.  It feels so solidly planted on the road and so neutral when cornering at higher than posted speeds.  The fully independent suspension continues the previous generation’s independent double-wishbone design in front and the multi-link independent system in the rear, along with front and rear stabilizer bars to keep body lean to a minimum.  The rear suspension geometry has been updated to provide a quieter and improved ride feel.  The Sport Package adds sport-tuning to the new double-piston shock absorbers that provide a high damping force at low frequency vibrations for a flat ride and low damping force at high frequency vibrations for a smoother ride.  The 4-Wheel Active Steer system helps provide lower steering effort and agile handling at low/medium speeds and a more stable feel at higher speeds.  Depending on the vehicle speed and the steering angle, the rear wheels are steered in-phase with the front wheels.  The reaction to my inputs was instantaneous, just like at the wheel of a race car.  The M56S rides on huge 20X9in. aluminum alloy wheels fitted with 245/40R20in. Bridgestone Potenza low-profile performance tires that add grip and traction to the rear wheels.

The steering system is an electronically controlled vehicle-speed-sensing variable-assist power rack & pinion design.  It gives a great feel for the road, has excellent on-center position and turns the front wheels just as quickly and precisely as a race car.

The Infiniti advanced Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control (TCS). VDC automatically adjusts brake pressure and engine torque during certain situations where the vehicle is near its handling limit, helping you to maintain control of your direction.  A new Active Trace Control system, included with the Technology Package, helps enhance the transition from braking into and then accelerating out of corners.  The system utilizes the M56S’s VDC system to help improve cornering feel by automatically applying the brakes so that load is increased on the front wheels.  The system also modulates engine torque to further enhance control.  The Active Trace Control system also applies braking to help crate increased steering response in S-turns and other steering operations.  When Sport mode is engaged, the level of braking applied by this feature is reduced.  You can of course shut all of these systems off to let you feel and experience the cars superb handling abilities and let the rear end slid out as you apex out of a turn, then blast out to increase your speed of the vehicle and your heart beats per minute.

Quickly and safely slowing the M56S down from speed are world-class braking systems such as ABS, EBD and BA.  The M56S comes standard with 14in. front vented discs clamped down by 4-piston calipers, while the rear wears 13.8in. solid discs clamped down with 2-piston opposed calipers.

Adding to you and your passenger’s safety is a long list of features including Infiniti Advanced Airbag System with dual-stage front airbags, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, and standard roof-mounted curtain side impact airbags front and rear.  Also included are standard 3-point seat belts for all seating positions with automatic locking retractor and emergency locking retractor for just the driver’s seat.  Pretensioners and Load Limiters are set up front for both bucket seats including front seat Active Head Restraints with 4-way manual adjustments.  The LATCH system is for rear child seats.  Front and rear Zone Body construction folds and takes the impact from a front or rear collision while steel beams in each door help maintain the integrity of the front and rear passengers.

Infiniti offers a number of innovative technologies designed to help avoid potentially dangerous situations such as Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP).  New for 2011 is the addition of Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Sport Intervention (BSI) systems which are part of the M Technology Package.  Other safety features include Intelligent Brake Assist with Forward Collision Warning and Front Pre-Crash seat belts.

This is a lot of information to digest but the all-new 2011 Infiniti M56S is an amazing sedan with unique sport styling, world-class power, performance, comfort, ergonomics, high-tech and luxury interior accruements and the latest safety systems.

It is also priced right giving all of what comes with the all-new M56S, starting at just $57,550.00 base, and with all of the goodies, only $67,610.00.  That is a real bargain when shopping around and seeing what the competition from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi want for a comparable vehicle.




  • Base M56 $57,550
  • As-Tested M56S $67,610


Tires and Wheels

  • Alloy wheels
  • 18 x 8.0 in. wheels
  • Steel spare wheel
  • 245/50R18 96V tires
  • All season tires
  • Inside mounted spare tire
  • Temporary spare tire

Roof and Glass

  • Variable intermittent rain sensing wipers
  • Rear defogger
  • Power glass sunroof
  • Remote sunroof operation

Towing and Hauling

  • Cargo tie downs


  • Width: 72.6 in.
  • Height: 59.1 in.
  • Length: 194.7 in.
  • Front track: 62.0 in.
  • Rear track: 61.8 in.
  • Wheel base: 114.2 in.
  • Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 14.9 cu.ft.
  • Maximum cargo capacity: 14.9 cu.ft.
  • EPA interior volume: 118.5 cu.ft.
  • Gross weight: .27 in.
  • Curb weight: 4028 lbs.

Exterior Options

  • Splash Guards
  • Midnight Black Grille
  • Rear Deck Lid Spoiler
  • 18-inch Split 5-Spoke Aluminum Alloy Wheels


Engine & Performance

  • Base engine size: 5.6 L
  • Cam type: Double overhead cam (DOHC)
  • Cylinders: V8
  • Valves: 32
  • Valve timing: Variable
  • Direct injection
  • Torque: 417 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm
  • Horsepower: 420 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Turning circle: 36.7 ft.
  • Base engine type: gas


  • Drive type: rear wheel drive
  • Transmission: 7-speed shiftable automatic
  • Transmission hill holder


  • Double wishbone front suspension
  • Multi-link rear suspension
  • Four-wheel independent suspension
  • Front and rear stabilizer bar


  • Fuel type: gas
  • Fuel type: premium unleaded (required)
  • Fuel tank capacity: 20.0 gal.
  • Range in miles (cty/hwy): 320.0/500.0 mi.
  • EPA mileage est. (cty/hwy): 16/25 mpg

Mechanical Options

  • R Spec High Friction Brake Pads


Safety & Security

  • 4-wheel ABS
  • Front and rear head airbags
  • Dual front side-mounted airbags
  • Child seat anchors
  • Remote anti-theft alarm system
  • Emergency braking assist
  • Front and rear ventilated disc brakes
  • Rear door child safety locks
  • Engine immobilizer
  • Front fog/driving lights
  • Auto delay off headlamps
  • Dusk sensing headlamps
  • Xenon high intensity discharge headlamp
  • 2 front headrests
  • 3 rear headrests
  • Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation
  • Rear center 3-point belt
  • Front seatbelt pretensioners
  • Stability control
  • Traction control
  • Electronic brakeforce distribution
  • Emergency interior trunk release
  • Front height adjustable headrests
  • Rear height adjustable headrests
  • Post-collision safety system
  • Passenger head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Driver head restraint whiplash protection system
  • Tire pressure monitoring

Safety & Security Options

  • Vehicle Alarm Impact Sensor


  • Basic: 4 yr./ 60000 mi.
  • Drivetrain: 6 yr./ 70000 mi.
  • Roadside: 4 yr./ 60000 mi.


Front Seats

  • Front head room: 39.1 in.
  • Front hip room: 54.3 in.
  • Front leg room: 44.4 in.
  • Front shoulder room: 58.4 in.
  • Multi-level heating passenger seat
  • 8 -way power passenger seat
  • 8 -way power driver seat
  • Passenger seat with power adjustable lumbar support
  • Multi-level heating driver seat
  • Driver seat with power adjustable lumbar support
  • Height adjustable driver seat
  • Height adjustable passenger seat
  • Leather
  • Manual
  • Bucket front seats

Rear Seats

  • Rear hip Room: 53.5 in.
  • Rear head room: 37.7 in.
  • Rear leg room: 36.2 in.
  • Rear shoulder room: 56.7 in.
  • Folding with storage and pass-thru center armrest
  • Rear ventilation ducts with fan control

Power Features

  • Remote power door locks
  • Reverse tilt dual mirrors provides curb view when vehicle in reverse
  • Power mirrors
  • Heated mirrors
  • 2 one-touch power windows
  • Remote window operation


  • Cruise control
  • Front console with storage
  • Front and rear cupholders
  • Front door pockets
  • Overhead console with storage
  • Remote trunk release
  • Retained accessory power
  • Front seatback storage
  • Electric speed-proportional power steering
  • Universal remote transmitter (for garage door, security system, etc.)
  • 12V front power outlet(s)
  • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
  • Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel
  • Rear view


  • Interior air filtration
  • Dual zone climate controls – driver and passenger
  • Trunk light
  • Alloy, leather and wood trim on center console
  • Wood trim on dash
  • Alloy, leather and wood trim on doors
  • Front and rear reading lights
  • Leather trim on shift knob
  • Leather and alloy steering wheel
  • Front and rear floor mats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
  • Dual illuminating vanity mirrors

Memorized settings

  • Memorized settings includes audio system
  • Memorized settings includes climate control
  • Memorized settings for 2 drivers
  • Memorized settings includes steering wheel


  • Clock
  • Tachometer
  • Trip computer
  • External temperature display
  • Low fuel level warning
  • Compass

In Car Entertainment

  • Diversity antenna
  • Bose premium brand stereo system
  • Bose premium brand speakers
  • 10 total speakers
  • Audio/Video Input
  • AM/FM in-dash single CD/DVD with CD MP3 Playback stereo
  • XM w/NavTraffic satellite radio
  • Speed sensitive volume control
  • Auxiliary audio input and iPod integration
  • 1 subwoofer(s)
  • 5.1 surround audio (discrete)
  • 3 Months of provided satellite radio service
  • Radio data system
  • USB connection


  • Hard drive based display w/voice activation and directions navigation system
  • Pre-wired for phone
  • Bluetooth wireless data link for hands-free phone
  • Real time traffic

Interior Options

  • Illuminated Kick Plates
  • Carpeted Trunk Mat, Trunk Net & First Aid Kit


  • Sport Package
  • Aerodynamic Package
  • Technology Package
  • Sport Touring Package
  • Deluxe Touring Package

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