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Negotiating the narrow, twisted streets of Rome is never easy, especially when you’re in something as big as the new, 2002 Q45. Pedestrians dart into the road from every direction. Traffic signals are optional. So are turn signals. It’s an exercise in frustration. But taking a couple deep breaths, we round the Il Collosseo, negotiate our way around a couple more ancient ruins, and suddenly find ourselves on the Autostrade, racing at breakneck speed towards Florence.
It’s a long way to go for a car designed specifically for the U.S. market. But then again, Infiniti has a long way to go to get its newly redesigned flagship to stand out in a crowded market full of lavish and competent luxury products.
It’s been more than a decade since the original Q45 made its debut. A lot of folks missed that introduction. Not that they missed word the car was coming. The highline division of Nissan Motor Co., Infiniti spent a fortune on a Zen-like ad campaign that showed lots of pretty pictures…of rocks and trees…but not the car.WWF jewelry
Among those who did see the original Q, the sedan received mixed reviews. It was lambasted for the WWF-style “belt buckle” on its grille. But it earned justifiable praise for its performance feel and the decision not to take a derivative approach to styling—in contrast to the LS 400, the Lexus sedan that also debuted in 1989.
Infiniti sales fell far short of expectations, and a few years later, when the automaker introduced a second-generation Q45, the sedan took a giant step backwards. Its styling was far more stodgy than the original, and the big, 4.5-liter engine was downsized. There was good reason the car—and Infiniti as a whole—all but fell off the radar screen for U.S. luxury buyers.
2002 Infiniti Q45Enlarge Photo