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Infiniti M35/M45 vs BMW 5-Series

jtimagesjtimages Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in BMW
Having trouble deciding between Infinity M35 sport with tech and nav and 2007 BMW 530 with premium package.I`ve gone back and forth between the smooth ride but understated interior of the BMW vs. the technologically advanced M35.Anyone with similar dilemma please help


  • ghstudioghstudio Posts: 970
    We have a 530 coming off lease next month. We were going to get a new 530 but found that BMW has fixed seat belt mounts on the door pillar and it cuts across my wife's neck..she found the car undriveable. I found the navigation system somewhat of an's the same as the one we have in the current 530..totally knob/button voice controls. Looked at the M35 and found that for about $10K less, I got a much more technologically current car. My M35 is on order to replace the 530. To me, the M35 sport is only a personal taste "looks" option...I found it had a little harsher ride, but I did like the aluminum dash. Living in Sarasota, I don't think I'll ever need AWD or the steerable rear to go around those sharp country corners or up the hills in the snow :) One final note, I'm a realtor and the M35 has much more room and easier back seat access than the BMW 5's.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    The Infiniti's drivetrain and suspension do not have the refinements of the inline BMW engines. However, the Japanese lux mobiles are typically better when it comes to electronics.

    The price difference is not relevant if you are leasing. BMW cars have high residuals and invariably the lease payments for a $50K BMW and a $40K competition will come out in the same ball park. If you really want to save on a lease, do European Delivery! And BMW has free maintenance for the first four years.

    Infiniti shares a lot of stuff with its corporate cousin, Nissan. It is not designed to be a performance car from the bottom-up like the BMW is.
  • jdmassjdmass Posts: 14
    Agreed! The technie features of the Infiniti have an edge over the BMW -- better NAV, rear-view camera, and the Infiniti is probably a better ride overall for passengers. BMW, on the other hand, continues to be more of a true drivers car. They seem to me to be less willing to compromise on the driving experience sometimes at the expense of other comforts. They certainly don't do everything right (e.g. iDrive was a mistake, their cupholders STILL suck) and they are priced higher than Infiniti, but their engines are superior, they still offer a stick, and their handling is very well refined.

    That said, the Infiniti is not far off and you won't go too far wrong with either -- it is just a matter of what appeals most to you.
  • jtimagesjtimages Posts: 8
    Thanx for the message, it seems every day I`m changing my mind.I am very concerned about the low gas mileage everyone seems to report on the M. That may in itself be the deciding factor.
  • blov8rblov8r Posts: 567
    JT: For me it was a no-brainer. IMO, the Infiniti's overall quality bumper-to-bumper is substantially superior to the Bimmer. Reliability is better, and that goes for MB as well. Furthermore, every article written since introduction a year ago comparing cars in this category found the M35 and M45 superior to all it's competitors ... and for less money. I know you're not looking at Lexus, but for the first time last month the M has passed the Lexus GS in sales ... and that says a mouthful. Bart :shades:
  • blov8rblov8r Posts: 567
    JT: 1) How much difference is there REALLY between the mileage delivered in the M v. the 530? I don't know the answer, but I doubt it's material. 2) Looking at cars in this price range gas mileage shouldn't be a factor. Bart :shades:
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    I've liked reviews by the guy who writes for USA Today. About the M35, he wrote: "In rare, wonderful moments, a car shows up that is exactly what it's supposed to be, does just what it's supposed to do and delights well beyond expectation ...The new M is the best thing Infiniti's done and comes close to making BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Cadillac irrelevant. It offers as much panache and performance as those do with fewer privations, at sometimes-lower prices."
  • bargamonbargamon Posts: 302
    For me, the electronics are not important to me. I won't get NAV, I don't care about that Rear View camera thing.

    No $2500 cruise control (have it on another car and can live without it), and no night vision, heads up display, or other toys.

    Its about the heart and soul of the car. First its the engine, then the transmisson, thent he suspension feel.

    THe BMW trumps the poser infiniti. Where do you want the technology? In the radio or in the engine?

    Looks are subjective. The BMW is daring, the Infiniti is very average. Looks like an Impala to me. THe G35, expecially the new version due this fall is a nicer looking design.

    The debate ends at the transmission where I like to shift my own gears and the M does not offer this choice.

    Is the M alot of car for the money? sure it is. It offers alot of "technology" for the money. Many folks like amenities which can add to the enjoyment of having a vehicle.

    To me, the inline 6 of the BMW is superior as is the road feel.

    The M's "jewel box" like interior is also not to my taste. I like a quality feel but low key appearence.

    For the money, I would take the M over the E-class mercedes, put it just ahead of the GS Lexus in value and drive, but not looks or interior. I would rate the M just behind the Audi A6 and the BMW.

    None of the above is a bad choice.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    "she found the car undriveable"... You may be the 1st human to utter those words!
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    "Infiniti shares a lot of stuff with its corporate cousin, Nissan. It is not designed to be a performance car from the bottom-up like the BMW is."

    In the Wards Automotive test of the Infiniti M, they wrote: "the new M35/M45 are the first models from the second generation of the company's lauded FM (front midship) rear-drive platform...The new M's real story is the sinuous FM chassis, the chesty engines and a tremendously crafted interior that's sure to spend a few long weekends in Audi's teardown shop." A related comment from another website points out that "It uses a much more rigid version of the G35/350Z/FX Nissan FM platform." I guess the assertion "not designed to be a performance car from the bottom-up like the BMW is" can be interpreted various ways, but a car whose platform evolved out of one originally designed for the 350Z fits my interpretation of "built from the ground up for performance.
  • ghstudioghstudio Posts: 970
    Actually, when you are "height challenged" otherwise known as a short 5' 0", there are a fair number of cars that are just hard, if not almost impossible to drive. Some cars have pedals so far away that to reach them you have to adjust the seat so far forward that you have the steering wheel rubbing your stomach. In other cases, the dash is designed very high and if you want to reach the pedals, you can't raise the seat high enough to see (well) over the dash...the 350z comes to mind here. In the case of the BMW's with the fixed seatbelt pivots, the seatbelt cuts into my wife's neck and it's incredibly uncomfortable having that belt continually rubbing on your neck. Sure, we could buy one of those clip on belt deals or maybe a cushion but in a $50K car, one should not have to do that. No the comfort seats don't help a bit...

    The net of this is that while she could drive the car in a pinch, she would not ever drive the car regularly because the seatbelt makes it too uncomfortable. Same problem, of course, when she rides in the passenger seat.

    My wife, by the way, is 5' and under 100 pounds. The BMW's are just not comfortably driveable by someone who is petite. I guess this another design feature courtesy of Bangle....way to go BMW. Our M35 should arrive this week.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    One reason I bought my M35x is that it was the only car I had enough headroom in...the insistance that this class of car MUST have a sunroof really cuts into that component. Only one offers it (well not really since nobody stocks them) and that is Audi. BUT, if you order it without a sunroof, you can't get most of the nice 'extras'. The BMW is just too small for me.
  • sagarchrsagarchr Posts: 23
    Having driven both and had my mind set on the 530, the thing that pushed me over to the Infiniti camp, was the April issue of that famous consumer magazine - they rate first year quality of the M35 as outstanding. The bimmer, only average. As a current BMW owner (Z4) I love that BMW feeling. But, not at the expense of visiting the dealer more often. My neighbors have a 6 month old 525, the service loaner is in their driveway at least once a month! I have had NO problems with my Z4 and that's how I want my next car to be.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    CR report influenced me as well, but it wasn't only the prediction of greater reliability. In fact, when I read CR a second time, I saw (p. 14) that the survey was conducted in the spring of 2005. CR expects 2005 models to come out in the fall of 2004 and then CR will predict what we should expect from 2006 models (expected to arrive fall 2005) and not, therefore, survey-able in spring 2005. The M35 went on sale, I believe, in February 2005, so the 95% of of the owners of the M35 who reported having no problems during the survey period probably only had the cars for a few months. That's still relevant, but it's not the same as "first year" reliability.

    I was more impressed that 92% of owners said they'd definitely buy or lease the M35/M45 again, while there was not a single BMW for which 80% (CR's loyalty cut-off) or more of owners said they'd buy it again. 73% of V8 5-series owners said they'd buy one again and only 69% of owners of 5-series cars with the fabled inline-6 said they'd buy it again. 7 out of 10 saying they'd repeat might sound good, but the baseline is 50%, that is, about 50% of owners of any new car claim they'd do it again and the median for luxury cars was 73% in the CR survey.
  • sagarchrsagarchr Posts: 23
    Great analysis, thanks for the additional info. Did you get yours yet? I am getting quotes (not even pushing) of 599.00 on a M35sport with Journey for 24 months. 2200. down. Have you tried Carmax to unload your BMW?
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    What I did ... saw, on Edmunds that dealer has $4000 - $5000 profit to "play with". We agreed on a figure that was a bit over $3000 off MSRP. Then I asked if they'd just take the amount equal to the last three payments left on my BMW lease and pay it off for me. They not only did that, but also drove over with me to a nearby BMW dealer and walked me through (held my hand through) the turning in of the BMW. That amounted to about half of the $3000 off MSRP, so I really only got about $1700 or $1800 (I think -- don't have papers in front of me) off MSRP. I think the MSRP was $48,520 and the "selling price") what do they call it here ("Cap Cost"?) was really $46,800 (because about $1500 went to BMW -- I had reached the allotted miles and so would have incurred about $700 in excess mileage costs had I kept it).

    Not "clever-auto-buyer-of-the-week" material for Financial Times, but felt OK to me and covered the emotional bases.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    The very fact that the car's platform has evolved from the one used for G35/350Z/FX makes my point. In the BMW line-up, each series (3,5,7) gets its own platform. In the case of Infiniti the G35 and the M35/M45 share the same lineage. However the size of the cars is very different. It is hard to get it perfect both for the mid-size G and the full-size M on the same basic platform.

    OTOH, the BMW 5 series (E60) and the 3 series (E90) have completely different chassis. They might share some of the electronics and other doo-dahs but the under the skin construction is unique to the car-class. That is where the "ground up" difference comes from.

    If you are looking for a the best driving experience the BMW is the one to get. If you are looking for off-the line power, electrical doo-dahs, get the M. Frankly the M styling is very dated compared to the styling of the E60 which is now being copied by a number of manufacturers.

    I also feel that the number of complaints about the initial quality of BMWs is exaggerated The recent J.D.Powers survey actually highlighted the fact that in the case of BMWs, a significant reason for lower initial quality was not real errors but users who were not sure how to use the product. Perhaps BMW over estimated the average intelligence of American drivers ;).

    The iDrive interface requires some learning to get used to, but is quite intuitive after that. It is designed to be operated while the car is in motion, unlike the touch screen versions in various Japanese models which require you to bend forward (another reason why the BMW is a driver's car).

    Finally BMW leases especially if you do European Delivery are very competitive. You also have to account for the free maintenance (everything but tires) which BMW includes. It is great to have Infiniti around to keep BMW honest. But at the end of the day, the BMW continues to be the ultimate driver's car.
  • jtimagesjtimages Posts: 8
    Well,finally made my decision.Picked up my M45 sport completely loaded.This car is a dream.Toys are awesome and so is drive.I`m totally happy with my decision.Got a great deal and look forward to driving every time I get in the car.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    vsaxena wrote: "I also feel that the number of complaints about the initial quality of BMWs is exaggerated The recent J.D.Powers survey actually highlighted the fact that in the case of BMWs, a significant reason for lower initial quality was not real errors but users who were not sure how to use the product. Perhaps BMW over estimated the average intelligence of American drivers"

    JD Powers broke owners complaints into three categories: defects, malfunctions, and design. It's been assumed that iDrive design complaints account for BMW not appearing to offer higher level of initial quality. Breakdown I found doesn't support that defense of BMW:

    Brand-Defects-Malfunctions-Design Problems

    That doesn't negate anyone's experience of BMW as providing the ultimate driving experience for them.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    Actually your data reinforces what I had said earlier.

    I am not sure how JD Power is distinguishing between Defects and Malfunctions. If you group these together the Infiniti score is 174 and BMW is 194. Though BMW is about 12% higher than Infiniti it is not a huge difference especially if you consider the "Made in Japan" factor.

    The biggest issue is in design problems where at 82 versus 52, BMW is almost 60% higher! The design problems point to some feature which the user did not fully understand (iDrive) or found inadequate (cup holders). Hence my earlier statement about different expectations of US drivers when it comes to the simplicity of the interface.

    BMW's first priority is the driving experience so any design trade-off tends to favor that. That means that an oddly placed window button or poor cup-holder, will be selected over the other design choices which might compromise the driving ergonomics.

    This is not to say that BMW can not improve the other aspects of the design. I am glad that Infiniti is around to keep BMW honest. But if you really enjoy fine handling and balanced cars, it is tough go back once you go Bavarian ;).
  • sagarchrsagarchr Posts: 23
    I totally agree with you on the fine handling and balance part, and if that is what is most important to you as a buyer then get yourself to the BMW dealer. If you have additional requirements, wishes, and are looking at the whole package, the M has it right now.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    I'm not sure that breaking down the data from the JD Powers survey really has much to do with your main argument, which can stand on its own merits: BMW puts a great engine and transmission on a 50/50 balanced and great handling chassis. The driving experience is unique.

    Even among those of us who enjoy fine handling and balanced cars, however, the difference in balance/handling between a BMW 530 and another LPS might either not be as subjectively experienced as you find it to be (there are simply individual differences in "subjects'" perception of difference between any A and B in any "experiment") or the whole driving experience (separate from design issues) of another LPS might excite someone more than a BMW does. Ironically, it's the same kind of argument you made about the JD Powers numbers. You look at two cars, see that one has 12% more manufacturing problems than the other (and that many U.S. drivers don't like the way things were designed to operate inside the cabin) and you say 12% more problems don't matter to me (why you would expect the countries of origin of two competing products to matter to a consumer who is reading about how often the product breaks down or malfunctions is not clear to me, but that aside…) while another consumer might say "gee, 12% more trips to the service dept; that bothers me."

    Also, I've never been aware of a "U.S. drivers like the ways things work inside the car to be simple" while "European drivers like them complicated" dichotomy. The complexity of doing things while driving has only become a big issue since iDrive type controls appeared.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    quote sfcharlie
    "(why you would expect the countries of origin of two competing products to matter to a consumer who is reading about how often the product breaks down or malfunctions is not clear to me, but that aside…) "

    I think our behavior is strongly influenced by the perception we have. A Japanese car is supposed to have bullet-proof reliability while a BMW is traditionally not considered as good. As a result, a person is more likely to accept a bug, as not a bug, on a Japanese car, since he/she is not expecting it to go wrong. OTOH, if the person goes in with the fear that the car might not be reliable, he/she is more likely to keep an eye open for bugs and report them. I personally expected that the difference between BMW and Infiniti to be a lot more than 12% (talk about perceptions!).

    Another thing to keep in mind is that Lexus and Infiniti are primarily brands created for the US market. BMW on the other hand has a large market in Europe. As a result, Infiniti/Lexus designs will be more focussed on the US market, compared to BMW which has a global market in mind. This might explain some of the bias when it comes to design.

    This is not to say that BMW could not have done a better job with the iDrive based system. However, for me, the design issues are not a factor, since I am computer literate and do not mind spending half an hour to understand how the car works. For my wife though, the lack of proper cup-holders is a major negative!

    12% difference in reliability is not worth it for me to give up on the Bimmer since the design issues are not a factor in my decision. Throw in the aggressive BMW leases ($450-$500 a month on an European Delivery on a $55K 530), easily swings it for me; the free maintenance is a bonus.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    I hope it doesn't appear as if I'm arguing against people buying BMWs. There is no basis in any evaluation of 3 or 5 series BMWs that I've ever read to expect them to provide anything other than a great drive.

    Oh, I see what you are saying about country-of-origin of a car, but I believe there's a good deal of experimental psychology history to suggest that actually an expectational set of "Japanese cars are problem-free" would lead the average person to over-react to anything being the slightest bit off and rush to the dealership to have the car restored to its expected perfect state and tell anyone who would listen about how not-perfect their particular Japanese car was. By contrast, an expectational set of "German cars are great to drive but will have many problems" would lead to a higher threshold for complaining.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    It will be hard to make a statistically reliable call on how the expectation of quality affects complaints about quality, without having access to a lot of experimental data. I feel that the typical BMW driver is more passionate about his/her car than the typical Infiniti driver. Just look at the number and level of activity on BMW online sites versus other brands. A more involved person is also likely to notice defects than a less involved person.

    I am not sure what is the quality of JD Power's statistical surveys, but a 12% difference is often within the margin of error, especially if the sample size is not too large, and is spread across different models.

    Anyway, at the end of the day a 12% difference was a pleasant surprise to me. I was expecting it to be significantly worse.

    And any one considering a BMW should join the BMW CCA at least one year before they are ready to buy the next car. You get a $1000 rebate on a 5 series and it is $40/year for membership.

    One open question: If the cost of ownership of a BMW 530 was the same or less than that of an Infiniti M, would you still buy the Infiniti?
  • sagarchrsagarchr Posts: 23
    Being a BMW lover myself and having one now, I would have to say that right now, today, I would pick the M even if they were the same price. I think the 5 is evolving at the moment, and I think that it will once again be the best sedan on the market. But it isn't today. I just hope they are finished making it perfect when my 24mo M lease runs out. ;)
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    So you feel that the first year M cars have it better than the 4 year old 5 series? That is some achievement for Infiniti! Specifically with regards to the 5 series, where does the M outshine the BMW?

    BTW, my hypothetical question was with regards to the cost of ownership and not the price. BMW leases are quite cheap, especially if you go with the European Delivery way. Plus you have the $1000 rebate from the BMW CCA and the free maintenance. So it is likely that a BMW priced the same as an Infiniti will cost less to own.
  • sagarchrsagarchr Posts: 23
    Let me turn the tables a moment and ask you, where does the 530 outshine the M?
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    Not that you have to treat this as a bible, but we're on Edmunds and this is what they predict:

    True Cost to Own a BMW 5 series (year by year for 5 years and then the total):

    Yearly Totals $23,046 $14,041 $12,597 $13,446 $13,373 $76,503

    versus True Cost to Own an M35:

    Yearly Totals $21,572 $13,335 $12,189 $11,377 $12,244 $70,717

    So, even if it didn't end up averaging $1,000 more per year for 5 years, but instead, as you hypothesize, the cost was guaranteed to be the same, I didn't find myself very interested in moving up from a BMW 3 series to a 5 series. I wanted an Audi or an M and I don't believe my interest would have been shifted by being told the BMW was being offered to me at the exact same price and lease terms or whatever. I thought the M was sexier, inside and out. It drove as well, for me, as the 3 series, which is usually said to drive better than the 5 series. Despite that, the M has 5.1 inches of ground clearance, higher I think than any other LPS, which I find more practical ... (Just to be provocative ... On April 7, 2005, BMW drivers Michael Darvin and Mark Camisioli filed the First Amended Class Action Complaint on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated in New Jersey state court against BMW of North America and its German parent corporation, BMW Aktiengesellschaft, alleging that certain BMW vehicles are equipped with a front-end spoiler that is defectively designed because it is unusally low to the ground. As a result of this alleged defect, the front-end spoilers get caught on standard-size curbs and parking stops, causing serious damage to the BMW vehicles. Repairs typically cost several hundred dollars -- I know, it's the spoiler and not BMWs in general, but couldn't resist). And the M has more front and rear leg room, which I and various members noticed right away.
  • vsaxenavsaxena Posts: 211
    BMWs in general outshine other cars in two aspects:
    -> Handling and feel for the road. The car runs as if it is on rails; the steering gives precise feedback and you can aim for a spot on the road and nail it. BMWs shine on twisties.
    -> Engine/Tranny integration: Excellent job in mating them together to give a smooth ride, and on-demand kick. And of course my favorite SMG tranny option which allows clutch haters like me to drive manuals.

    I would like to hear more about how the M compares. (and this is a serious question).


    I am comparing the cost of ownership as measured in a lease. It is stupid to spend $50K plus on a depreciating asset where a single accident can reduce the value of the asset by $10K. BMW leases are awesome especially if you do European Delivery. The Edmund's analysis assumes a purchase with high sales tax costs because of the higher price of the BMW. It does not account for European Delivery savings (10-11% of MSRP) or BMW CCA rebates, or the high residuals and money factors offered by BMWFS.

    An apples to apples comparison would be to calculate the lease payments and the appropriate maintenance cost for the M (it is free for a BMW). I noticed that you are paying $725 for an M35 with an MSRP of $48,520 . I am paying $420 for a 2006 525 with an MSRP of $51770 (Sports Package, Premium Package, Navigation, Xenon, Park Distance Control) :D . I did not pay anything down for cap reduction though I did buy down the MF with multiple security deposits. Could have a 530 for another $40pm. And I am getting $1000 back for being a BMW CCA member :P . This was with the December lease specials and European Delivery (cost of travel is less than $1K in off-peak season). Even without the lease specials you can easily get one in the $500-$550 range. Add in $40/month for maintenance and you are paying about 75% more than me for the pleasure of driving a less expensive car :shades:. Even without the lease specials, you are still paying about 50% more! For $700s you can get a nicely loaded 550.

    And that lawsuit is stupid. Can you give me the specification of standard-size curbs and parking stops? In the 4 BMWs I have owned I only had to bother with the curb with the 2004 Z4 3.0 SMG with Sports Package (18" wheels). But the car is small enough for me to park it well away from the parking stop. God bless America and lawyers for the lawsuit :mad: .
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