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Infiniti's new M steps over the 5-liter line

Infiniti shows off the new M56 near the 2009 Los Angeles auto show.

Infiniti M56
Infiniti chose an alternate location to show off its M56 during the Los Angeles Auto Show. Josh Miller/CNET

Infiniti didn't make it to the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show, but the company was near by, showing its 2011 Infiniti M56 in Beverly Hills. The update to Infiniti's top model is an attempt to stay competitive with luxury brands Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, while maintaining a performance focus. As such, the M56 gets a revised interior with some nice woodwork, new running gear, and a raft of driver-aid technologies.

Along with blind-spot detection and lane departure warning, Infiniti adds lane drift prevention, which keeps the car from crossing a lane line by braking the offside wheels a little. This technology can prevent a sleepy driver from going off the road, or a distracted driver from changing lanes into an occupied lane. We've tested this technology previously and found it easily overcome, so it won't prevent a driver making an emergency lane change.

The car also has an adaptive cruise control option, an around-view camera that makes maneuvering through tight parking garages easier, and a new technology called Eco pedal. This last feature pushes back slightly on the gas pedal for heavy-footed drivers as a means of training people to drive more economically. This feature can be easily turned off.

The new power train in the M56 includes a seven-speed automatic transmission and a direct injection 5.6-liter V-8, producing 420 horsepower. This engine is more powerful yet more economical than the outgoing 4.5-liter V-8. The M model is also available as an M37, with a 3.7-liter V-6.