Autocar's Steve Cropley has been given exclusive access to the Infiniti M saloon during its development at Nissan's Cranfield Technical Centre in Bedfordshire.
The new M saloon will launch in September in the UK and will be one the first Infiniti models to be powered by the firm's V6 diesel engine. In a class featuring capable diesel rivals from Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar, Infiniti needs this 3.0-litre single-turbo diesel unit if it stands a chance of competing with its established rivals.
Cropley's drive was in the M30d variant which will make up two thirds of sales; a 3.7-litre V6 petrol unit, badged M37, will make up the rest of the sales and will launch in October.
The test car's black anti-photography stripes meant appreciation of its design would have to wait for another day, although Cropley described the interior as "cocoon-like and beautifully made". The M will track the BMW 5-series closely on price, although it will come with more generous levels of standard equipment.
The six-cylinder diesel's smoothness was "much more Jaguar than Japan" according to Cropley, as was the the seven-speed automatic gearbox. The 'box has four shift modes: Standard, Sport, Eco and Snow. Engineers say the Eco mode can boost economy by up to 10 per cent.
Cropley also appreciated the amount of feel in the accelerator and brake pedals, although he was less keen on the resistance from the accelerator pedal when it detects you getting too close to the car in front. The steering is light at low speeds but firms up and becomes more accurate under hard cornering.
But the best feature of the M was its ride quality. Cropley found the body control to be admirable with the car remaining smooth and quiet throughout. It absorbed low-speed ruts with a suppleness and control worthy of Europe's class leaders.
The test drive confirmed to Cropley that the development programme was "very successful" and Tim Crane, leader of Infiniti's European engineering team, had "accurately recognised the driving priorities of Europeans and translated them into a convincing prototype".
You can read Steve Cropley's full report in this week's Autocar magazine, which is on sale now.