SEATTLE – Nissan North America Inc.’s Infiniti brand will offer the M45 sedan with all-wheel drive for the ’08 model year in an effort to boost sagging sales.

The addition of AWD comes at the request of Infiniti dealers in the colder climates.

“This was something dealers in the northern markets had been asking for,” says Mark Igo, Infiniti vice president and general manager.

The AWD M45 is powered by a 4.5L V-8 and is dubbed the M45x. The M35, with Nissan’s 3.5L V-6 VQ engine, already boasts optional AWD.

“What we’re trying to do is find something that’s new that will entice people to come look,” Igo says of the car, sales of which are down but slightly outperforming the segment.

M deliveries were off 10.9% through June, at 11,702 units vs. 13,128 in like-2006. Sales of models in Ward's Middle Luxury segment, where the M resides along with such vehicles as the Lexus GS, BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S80, fell 12.1% through June to 142,049 units from 161,618 year-ago.

The M also boasts styling changes for ’08, including updated front and rear fascias, headlights, taillights and rear fender panels.

On the technology front, Infiniti introduces its Lane Departure Prevention system for the first time on the M. The technology also will be available on the G37 coupe, going on sale Aug. 21 in the U.S.

Building on the ’07 M’s Lane Departure Warning system, LDP uses Infiniti’s Vehicle Dynamic Control system to prevent the car from drifting outside its intended lane. It accomplishes this by applying slight brake pressure to the wheel opposite the side of the lane-departure direction, Infiniti says.

For ’08, Infiniti nixes the M Sport models, offering a Sport package instead, which includes unique styling, 19-in. wheels and tires and Infiniti’s Rear Active Steer. The Delphi Corp.-developed steering system uses an electronic motor to change the angle of the two lower links at each rear wheel to make the vehicle more nimble in corners.

Also new for ’08 is a 9.3 gigabyte Music Box hard drive to store and play back digital music, as well as High Intensity Discharge xenon headlights with Adaptive Front Lighting that are standard on the M45 and optional on the M35x.