It took awhile to arrive, after previews starting in the middle of 2010, but now the 2012 Infiniti M35h is on sale at dealers all over the country.

It's Infiniti's first hybrid vehicle, the first car from the Nissan-Infiniti stable to use the company's own internally developed full hybrid system, and the fastest full hybrid on the market.

Its 0-to-62-mph time of 5.5 seconds only barely squeaks by the now-discontinued BMW ActiveHybrid X6, which logged 5.5 seconds for 0 to 60 mph. But nonetheless, it appears to be the current record holder.

Whether the idea of a "performance hybrid" will take hold with Infiniti buyers is a different question, of course. It certainly didn't for Honda, whose Accord Hybrid several years ago mixed high performance with slightly better fuel economy--and mostly baffled buyers.

But selected specs for the M35h are impressive. As Infiniti likes to point out, it's the only car with 350 or more horsepower that the EPA rates at 32 mpg on its highway test cycle. The city rating is 27 mpg, and the EPA gives it a combing gas-mileage number of 29 mpg.

The 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, with a 50-kilowatt (67-hp) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and Nissan's new 7-speed automatic transmission.

The electric motor can generate peak torque of 199 foot-pounds, or four-fifths of the engine's 258 lb-ft, and the combined maximum power rating of the pair is 350 hp.

2012 Infiniti M35h

2012 Infiniti M35h

The M35h can run on electricity from its 1.4-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack for more than a mile, Infiniti says, and at speeds up to 62 mph. In certain mixed-use cycles, the company claims it can run solely on electricity as much as 50 percent of the time.

The price of the 2012 Infiniti M35h starts at $53,700, and we think it's an impressive debut into green cars for Nissan's luxury brand.

There will be more coming in future model years, including an all-electric Infiniti based on running gear from the Nissan Leaf--last year's Best Car To Buy winner--but for 2012, we think the M35h is a viable contender for the GreenCarReports Best Car To Buy 2012 award.

We'll describe the other contenders, one per day, during the week ahead.

For more information, check out our special page, Best Car To Buy 2012, for all the stories we've written about the candidates and the award.


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