New & Used Infiniti Q45: In Depth
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The Infiniti Q45 was a full-size luxury sedan sold by Nissan's luxury division, Infiniti, from its launch in 1989 through 2006. The Q45 was the car that launched Infiniti into the U.S. market, competing directly against the Lexus LS launched at almost the same time by Toyota's upmarket brand. The Q45 gained early renown for an advertising campaign that didn't actually feature photos of the car itself, using images of nature--rocks, streams, trees--instead.
That first Infiniti Q45 was sold from 1989 through 1996, then replaced with a new model from 1997 through 2001. The third and last generation of Q45 was introduced for 2002 and remained on sale through the 2006 model year, when it was withdrawn due to poor sales and replaced by the Infiniti M Series (itself renamed Q70 for 2014), which had more interior room despite its shorter length.
The first-generation Q45, perhaps the best-known of the three different cars to carry the model name, was powered by a 278-horsepower V-8 engine driving the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Its styling was unconventional, having no traditional grille at the front, but instead a large and ornate cloisonné badge on an otherwise smooth panel between the headlights. The interior, while it used leather and soft-touch surfaces, did not include chrome accents or wood trim, and the seats were more firm than cushy. The color palette used stark contrasts between light and dark materials, though the expected luxury features were all present. Those included power adjustable front seats with memory, automatic climate control, keyless entry, and a Bose premium sound system.
This unconventional approach, along with the baffling introductory ad campaign, did not lead to strong sales in the conservative luxury-sedan market. For 1994, the Q45's smooth front end was replaced with a traditional upright grille, and more traditional luxury appointments--including wood trim--were added to the interior.
The second-generation Q45, launched for 1996, used a smaller 266-hp 4.1-liter V-8, again powering the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Its styling was not particularly distinctive, although it maintained all the expected luxury equipment. It received a mild exterior freshening for 1999, along with the addition of a few extra features. But once again, the Infiniti Q45 was heavily outsold by the competing Lexus LS.
The third and final Q45, sold from 2002 through 2006, focused on performance, as the first generation had done. It was powered by a 340-hp 4.5-liter V-8, this time powering the rear wheels through a new five-speed automatic transmission. Car magazines treated it as a luxury hot rod, but while it received good reviews, sales continued to sink despite upgrades and freshening of styling and features in 2003 and again in 2005. The model was finally withdrawn after 2006.