Car News:  Oversteer

In the Beginning: The Infiniti Q45

RELATED READING
See all Infiniti Q45 articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Infiniti cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Aaron Gold November 2016

Cast your mind back, if you will, to a time when Toyotas were Toyotas and Nissans were Nissans (and not long after Nissans were Datsuns). Thanks to Acura and Lexus, Americans were just getting used to the strange idea of a Japanese company fielding not just a luxury car but an entire luxury brand. This was 1989, and Cadillac DeVilles and Lincoln Town Cars were still selling just fine, thank you.

Nissan's Infiniti brand entered the market about a year after Lexus, and the way they did it was downright weird. Instead of showing cars, the first Infiniti ads showed water, geese and other scenes from nature -- but never the car itself.

When Infiniti finally revealed the Q45, people understood why the brand had been so camera-shy: It was a rather ugly thing, with a grille-free nose decorated only by a Texas-belt-buckle-size Infiniti emblem and sides largely unadorned except for giant oval-shaped door handles done up in chrome. The interior was uncomfortably similar to that of the Maxima; the designers' minimalist theme meant the Q45 got a monochromatic dash, which was a contrast to the warm wood-trimmed interior of the Lexus LS400. This was an early example of what would become a long string of strange and ugly designs from Nissan.

Clearly, the LS400 beat out the Q45 for styling -- but most critics picked the Q45 as their favorite. From a driver's perspective, the Infiniti had some advantages over the Lexus. Its 278-horsepower 4.5-liter 32-valve V8 (which some Q45 fans say was intentionally underrated) had half a liter and 28 hp over the LS400. Plus, handling was no contest: While the LS drove like a glorified Toyota, the Q45 felt like a proper sport sedan -- all the more so if you opted for the adaptive suspension system, added in 1991, or the 4-wheel-steering system that was all the rage at the time (it was featured on sporty cars like the Honda Prelude, the Mitsubishi 3000GT, the Dodge Stealth and Nissan's own twin-turbo 300ZX).

As it turned out, advertising a feeling rather than a car wasn't a successful strategy. Though it was the better car, dynamically speaking, the Q45 failed to sell as well as the Lexus LS400 or the Acura Legend. That said, some of the Infiniti's mechanical bits did it no favors: Buyers didn't care for the quick, heavy steering, and the transmission (which was programmed to start in second gear) made the car feel sluggish off the line.

Nissan tried to save the Q45 with a 1994 refresh: The nose sprouted a grille, and the dash finally got the wood trim that many dealers had been adding on their own. But it was too little, too late. When the second-generation Q45 appeared in 1997, Nissan phoned it in. The Q45 was now a rebadged JDM Nissan Cima, which had a smaller engine and a cheaper suspension than the original Q. The third-generation car of 2001 was a much better effort, but Americans were done caring; sales were so slim as to be nearly imaginary. Infiniti killed off the Q45 after 2006, and no one seemed to miss it, least of all Infiniti's corporate minders -- after all, buyers had by then discovered what may well be Infiniti's best effort, the G-Series.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
The Trabant Was an Awful Car Made by Communists
You Can Get Tank Treads for Your Vehicle
Please Stop Installing Aftermarket HID Headlights

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
In the Beginning: The Infiniti Q45 - Autotrader