Infiniti Q45 / G50

Infiniti Q45
Infiniti Q45
The luxury division of Nissan, Infiniti officially launched its vehicles on November 9, 1989, in the U.S. Today, Infiniti is sold worldwide including in South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, the Middle East and Ukraine.

A full-size luxury vehicle sold from 1990 until 2006, the Infiniti Q45 is a rear-wheel drive, four-door sedan with a V8 engine. The Nissan President; Nissan's Japanese-market flagship sedan was the basis for early generations until 1997 when models were based on the slightly smaller Nissan Cima. Following the 2006 model year, Q45 exports were halted, but the Cima continued to be sold domestically until August 2010, when production of both the President and the Cima ended. The Infiniti Q45's biggest competition was the Lexus LS, along with the more expensive BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

In 1989 the first generation of the Q45 was launched as a 1990 model. Reaching 0-60mph in just 6.7 seconds, car magazines and reviewers alike were impressed with its speed and handling. The high-output 4.5 L V8 engine was rated at 278 hp and 292 lb/ft of torque and it included a VLSD (viscous limited-slip differential) as part of a multi-link suspension. The Q45 was intended to compete with the Mercedes S-Class, Jaguar XJ, Cadillac Fleetwood, and the BMW 7 Series. The name was inspired by the term 'Q-car' which implied a high-performance vehicle though without a high-performance look.

A distinctively styled vehicle, the Q45 was Infiniti's redefinition of the modern luxury sedan. Arriving on the scene in three variations, the Q45 was available in base, Q45t and Q45a and the latter two featured a multi-link suspension at both the front and rear wheels and also included a rear stabilizer bar. Both the Q45t and Q45a also had a 1 mm smaller inch diameter front sway bar, rear spoiler; 4-wheel steering and BBS forged alloy wheels. The Infiniti Q45a sported a hydraulic active suspension. In the 1995 Q45t model the HICAS and faster steering ratios were discontinued and the Q45a model wasn't imported the following year.

Though the Lexus LS was quite a hats-off success, the Q45 hit a speed bump in unpopularity, partly due to an advertising campaign that didn't include any information or actual photos of the car, and partly the unconventional styling. Where the styling failed was the lack of wood-grain or chrome trim, and the unappealing grille. Until 2002 the G50 chassis continued in production in Japan as the President in both regular and extended wheelbase versions. This generation was packaged and sold as the Nissan Infiniti Q45 as the companion to the 'Nissan President' before being renamed Nissan Cima with the following generation. This version had various options that never appeared on the North American G50. Both the President and the Q45 were sold at different sales chains in Japan.

The second generation of the Infiniti Q45 (also called the Nissan Cima FGY33) debuted in 1997 and was produced until 2001. The two previous generation Cima's shared a platform with the older Nissan Cedric and Gloria which were part of the shorter executive vehicle class. The Q45 sported a more conventional look, but it featured worse performance with a smaller 4.1L VH41DE engine that produced 266 hp and reached 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. The Q45 and Cima merged into the same vehicle from this model. Changing to struts at the front end, the all-multilink suspension was further tuned for comfort and the steering was slowed down even more to an 18.5:1 ratio and traction control was standard. All of this did nothing to improve the car's flagging sales. The Infiniti Q45 sales in the North American market remained substantially lower than sales of its main competitor; the Lexus LS.

1999 introduced a slightly altered Q45 with all-new HID headlights and the return of an analog clock. Minor styling updates were made to the front and rear fascias. Made standard on Q45t were 17' wheels and an electronically adjustable suspension. Safety improvements that had been made on '98 models were enhanced and added to the 1999 and 2000 models.

The Infiniti Q45 second generation now included a leather interior with fake woodgrain trim (though no dual climate control), a Bose audio system with eight speakers with an in-dash single disc CD player, automatic light on and delay off timer, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and steering wheel-mounted cruise control and head unit control, all as standard features. A memorized adjustment system for the driver's seat and steering wheel also became a standard feature. Heated seats and a CD changer became available options.

The Q45 was unflatteringly referred to as the 'Q41' because of its reduced displacement and less-than-par performance. Nearly all Infiniti models before or since have used a two-digit number following a letter to indicate displacement; the second-generation Q was an exception. The 2000 model year introduced the Q45 Anniversary Edition which featured the highest trim level available for the second-generation Q45. The following year this trim level became standard across the board. The priciest vehicle in the Infiniti lineup was the Q45t which featured enhanced performance, heated seats, a rear spoiler, dynamically adjusted shock absorbers and various other lush features not offered in a standard Q45.

The third generation Infiniti Q45 was completely redesigned for the 2002 year, along with the JDM Cima and the President. Focusing on performance, this Q45 showcased a new 340 hp 4.5 L VK45DE V8 engine, more acute styling, and Gatling gun-inspired HID headlights. This generation also featured a 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. Unfortunately, despite even good reviews, the sales remained low, with only 1129 units sold in the U.S. for 2005. Lack of advertising and the 'debatable prestige of the Infiniti name' attributed to poor sales though this particular model received acclaim from Car and Driver, Consumer Guide and Edmunds.

For 2003 the Q45 underwent a variety of cosmetic upgrades, including a new security system, reprogrammed TCU, a numerically higher final drive ratio and a satellite radio option. The CD player became a one-at-a-time feed into the dash. 2005 brought numerous upgrades including a new front and rear fascias, restyled trunk lid, hood and grill, all-new headlight design, LED taillights and integrated fog lights. The interior sported new contoured double-stitched seats, chrome accents, dark maple trim and white luminescent gauge markings. Also new this year were 17' alloy wheels and a recalibrated transmission. Standard in the Q45 was the all-leather interior, power sunroof, remote keyless entry, 8-way power front seats, rain-detecting wipers and side curtain airbags. Electronics that were standard features included the CD, trip computer, rear camera parking sensors, 8 Bose speakers and a voice-activated navigation system. The first vehicle to ever offer voice-activated navigation controls was the 2002 Infiniti Q45. The vehicle seated five passengers and had a base price of $56,200.

Sold in the US from 2003 until 2004, the F50 chassis and suspension was very similar to the US FY33 and was also used as a basis for the Y34 M45 which was sold in the US from 2003 until 2005. It was a stopgap model that could spread out the development costs of the V8 engine, and competed primarily in the midsize luxury segment.

Following the 2006 model year the Infiniti Q45 was no longer exported to the U.S. and was replaced by a newly redesigned M35 and M45. Depending on which option packages are selected, the M is actually classified as a United States Environmental Protection Agency 'large' category. The M45 featured a shorter length than the Q45, yet it has more interior room, a superior rear multilink suspension, greater performance and front double wishbone. It succeeded the Q45 as Infiniti's flagship and featured much friendlier ergonomics.

In November 2009, Infiniti introduced the next flagship, the Infiniti M. The final generation Q45; the Nissan Cima was discontinued in Japan by August of 2010, along with its President sibling. This resulted in the second generation Nissan Fuga becoming Infiniti's top-of-the-line flagship sedan. It also became the first time that Nissan didn't sell a premium luxury V8 sedan in Japan when the Fuga assumed the role as flagship sedan.

By Jessica Donaldson

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