Politicians and diplomats with a love of speed and a soft spot for Mother Nature just struck it lucky -- Japanese car maker Infiniti will soon bestow the M35h upon the UK. It's a luxury saloon that's faster than most sports cars, yet greener than your average hatchback.
The M35h's headline figures show that Infiniti hasn't compromised on performance in the pursuit of low emissions. The car has a top speed of 155mph and a blistering 0-60mph time of 5.5 seconds, yet it emits a mere 162g of CO2 per kilometre and achieves 40.4mpg on the combined cycle.
These numbers compare favourably to, which does 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds, tops out at 149mph, spits out 179g of CO2 per kilometre, and achieves 36.7mpg on the combined cycle.
The M35h achieves its impressive numbers through a fairly unusual hybrid power system. This consists of a 302bhp, 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, a lithium-ion battery pack and an electric motor that provides 279Nm of torque from as low in the rev range as 1,770rpm.
Unlike most hybrid systems, however, it uses two clutches. At medium to high speeds, both clutches work in tandem to drive the car. At low to medium speeds and under deceleration, one clutch engages with the rear wheels and the electric motor, driving the car or passing charge back to the battery pack. While this happens, a second clutch disengages the petrol engine entirely, reducing the amount of friction it would have caused had it been connected to the drivetrain.
Other aces up the M35h's sleeve include an Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system. It emits a 'pleasing, non-intrusive sound' that varies in pitch and volume while you're driving at speeds of up to 30kph, warning the visually impaired or chronically clumsy not to step into the M35h's path.
Pricing for the M35h, which will be offered in either GT or GT Premium grades, will be announced before the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011.