The 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid may be the first hybrid that simultaneously features some of most advanced technology in the "green" industry while also eliminating many of the cumbersome traits of the expanding automotive segment.

Infiniti, of course, is a luxury brand and the new hybrid M with its plush interior, stylish wood trim  and sculpted interior and exterior designs only adds to the manufacturer's reputation.

Speed was rarely mentioned in hybrids a few years ago, but now it seems important. And that's another big plus for the Infiniti Hybrid M. With its 360 horsepower engine, the four-door season now holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s fastest accelerating full hybrid. It covers the standing quarter mile in 13.9031 seconds while reaching 104.5 mph.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

With five occupants in the car (my wife and I) and three friends drove to a dinner party into the Northern California foothills. A friend who owns Honda Accord hybrid several years old made some astute comments.

While he acknowledged the Infiniti's superior power, he also noticed (like I did several times during my weekly test drive) that Hybrid M has a substantial acceleration lag.

Regardless of the lag, it's hard to believe the Hybrid M is a hybrid. Consumer Guide commented, "Almost every surface is covered with padding, leather, wood, or metal that looks rich and tasteful." That says it all in 16 words.

The Hybrid M has a vast list of standard features commonly reserved for luxury sedans — seat mounnted speakers to exterior backlit door handles — never before featured in the hybrid flavor.

Likes:

Handsome interior and exterior design.

Clear navigation system screen.

Backlit front exterior door handles.

Exterior color — Moonlight white.

Dislikes:

Hesitation when accelerating.

Expensive option packages.

Soft brakes.

Awkwardly designed trunk, deep in the back, narrow at the front.

Facts & Figures: 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 5.2 seconds.
Airbags (6): Front, side and side curtain
Antilock brakes: Front, side and side-curtain.
First aid kit: yes (in trunk).
Fuel economy: 27 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: Not rated.
Horsepower: 360.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $53,700.00
Manufacturer's Web site: www.infinitiusa.com.
Price As tested: $67,565.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 4 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

"There's a lot to like about Infiniti's M sedan. As something of an unsung hero in the midsize luxury performance segment, it offers a plush interior with topnotch ergonomics, a uniquely swept body shape, and a leading array of state-of-the-art technology.” —- Popular Mechanics.

"Let’s face it: At its price, the M35h isn’t going to sell like hotcakes. A few well-heeled buyers interested in technology and talking about being green will take home this wonder widget of advanced technology, and their neighbors will likely never notice.” —- Car and Driver.

"On paper, the M Hybrid handily one-ups the GS 450h — the Infiniti's got 369 combined horsepower to the Lexus' 340 and is expected to turn in better fuel economy, particularly on the freeway.” —- Edmunds.

What The Wife Says:

"This is a hybrid?"

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

"The Infiniti M Hybrid is the most luxurious and least hybrid-like car I've driven. It's comfortable, handsome, confident and glides down the road. But its $14,000 tally of options on an already hefty $53,000 price tag makes it largely unattainable for all but a small percentage of hybrid buyers."

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