Infiniti M45 Sport

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Keywords: automotive reviews, automotive news, 2007 bmw 550i vs. infiniti m45, lexus gs450h, m-b e550 car review, new 2007 bmw 550i vs. infiniti m45, lexus gs450h, m-b e550
Description: Car and Driver offers exclusive car comparison tests. Here's one now: 2007 BMW 550i vs. Infiniti M45, Lexus GS450h, M-B E550 - Comparison. (Page 5)

In our 2005 derby, the M45 enjoyed a big advantage. It had one of the two most powerful engines in the group and had the best power-to-weight ratio. As a consequence, the M45 dominated in acceleration, as well as other dynamic scoring categories.

The composition of this test group is considerably different. Although this M45 test car, like the '05, was a Sport model, its 325-hp V-8 -- same engine as in '05 but down 10 horsepower because of the '04 SAE protocol -- ranked last on the power charts. Predictably, the M45 went from first to last in the sprints -- 0-to-60 in 5.9 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.5 at 100 mph, both times a tad slower than in '05. It also slipped in skidpad performance, winding up just behind the BMW and just ahead of the Benz at 0.85 g. However, the 19-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE050A sport-package tires did help the M45 to best-in-test braking performance: 160 feet from 70 mph, which is close to sports-car territory.

In any case, numbers are only part of the story. The M45 prevailed for two big reasons. First, there is its character. 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. Yes, we gave the 550i a one-point edge in fun-to-drive, a tribute to its superb competence. But of the two cars, the M45 seemed the more exuberant and ready to play.

The M45 also enjoyed small advantages in the department of details. For example, its secondary-control collective, perched on an odd little inclined plane near the top of the center stack, was easier to use than BMW's iDrive. Switches had a nice feel and were legibly labeled. And we were delighted to discover that the lane-departure warning system could be switched off. This latest techno trick's constant chirping had several drivers ready to pull the wiring loom. (Now, if Infiniti would just install an off switch for the adaptive part of the adaptive cruise control. )

More plaudits: There's lots of room, even though the rear center seat is just as uninhabitable as any of 'em. Good marks for a seat-to-pedals-to-wheel relationship that at least one driver identified as "perfect." Good marks for the seats -- not as form-fitting as the BMW's, but comfortable and cool (literally) in the bargain.

Ah, yes, bargain. Although it's hard to attach that word to a car costing more than 50 large, it's applicable here. M45 pricing starts at $49,750. The Sport version -- 19-inch wheels and tires, firmer suspension tuning, interior and exterior trim distinctions -- starts at $51,200, and our test car was optioned to $56,730, by far the least expensive car in the group and almost $15,000 less than the as-tested price of the 550i. We're regularly accused of profligacy with money we're not really going to spend. But that's a disparity too large to ignore.

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