Making its first public appearance in production form, the 2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid was the highlight of automaker's display at the LA Auto Show. With form as well as functionality inspired by the Infiniti Essence Concept, this mid-size sedan will serve as a no-compromises eco-alternative to its M37 Sedan kin when it goes on sale in the spring.

In presenting this new family member, Infiniti Vice President Ben Poore stressed that "As hybrid technology has gotten more sophisticated, so have hybrid drivers.  Where it was once enough to offer fuel efficiency alone, today's hybrid buyers need performance and handling to go along with the 'green' attributes -- and that's where the new Infiniti Hybrid delivers like no other."

>See more new cars unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show

The heart and soul of the M35h Hybrid is its Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid system which is paired with the car's 3.5-liter gasoline V6 that makes 302 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This single-motor/dual-clutch parallel hybrid system consists of a 50kW/67-horsepower electric motor/generator that cranks out 199 lb-ft of twist, a compact, lightweight 1.4kW lithium-ion battery pack located behind the rear seat and a pair of computer-controlled clutches that allow the gasoline engine to completely decoupled whenever the M35h is operating on pure EV power or when its regenerative braking system is sending charge back into the battery. The first "dry" clutch is positioned between the engine and the seven-speed automatic transmission, while the second "wet" clutch, which resides on the same common driveshaft, effectively replaces the conventional torque converter, an innovation that further enhances the efficiency and responsiveness of the package.

Total output of the M35h's trick hybrid system is 360 horsepower, and like the M37, all motive force gets shipped to the rear wheels. While formal EPA figures have yet to be finalized, Infiniti is projecting a 30-mpg figure on the highway cycle, making it the only vehicle with over 350 horses to hit that benchmark. Capable of reaching 62 mph on electric power alone, the Infiniti M35h's pure-EV range is a modest 1.2 miles. However, under normal mixed driving conditions, Infiniti says the car can operate in emissions-free mode nearly 50 percent of the time.

In addition to trimming excess mass wherever possible -- the hybrid hardware adds only 276 pounds to the curb weight -- the M35h uses a new Hybrid Electric,Power Steering System with "on-demand" boost that helps trim fuel use by another two percent as well as an Electric Driven Intelligent Brake System that dispenses with the need for a reserve pressure tank and permits even more efficient normal and regenerative braking functions.

Save for its blue-tinted hybrid-unique gauges and displays, the cabin of the M35h Hybrid shares much in common with the M37. Standard features include leather upholstery, power moonroof, a full roster of power assists, Bluetooth and push button starting as well as an Active Noise Control system and an Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians sonic alert. Other nice touches include bi-xenon HID headlamps and a well-tuned chassis that includes specifically calibrated shock absorbers and V-rated 245/50 all-season tires on 18-inch alloy wheels to complement the vehicle dynamics system. Like the M37, the 2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid will be available with the optional Premium and a Deluxe Touring Packages.

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