Ever try to persuade your best friend to go on a blind date? Looks were probably his or her first concern. You'd be forced to dance around the issue. In a good-natured sort of way, you'd say something vague and imprecise, and you'd be sure to place special emphasis on the words ''wonderful personality.'' Well, that's how it has been with the Infiniti Q45 since Nissan introduced it in November 1989. Here was a car that, under the skin, just may rank as one of the most technically excellent luxury sports sedans ever built. Yet there was a slight problem. The Q45 had an unsightly wart on its nose, and door handles few could love. While Lincoln, Lexus, Acura and Cadillac danced the night away, the Q45 sat on the sidelines with Peugeot, Sterling and others, all dressed up in its new wave clothes, but with no place to go. The original Q45 has been nothing less than a major disaster. Here's what went wrong: Nissan built a $50,000 luxury car that didn't have a chrome grille or a wood-trimmed interior - the two items that signify real luxury in today's world. But enough rehashing of history. For Infiniti, the 1994 model year is here early. And this time the Q45 is ready to party. A major face lift is one of its more than 50 improvements. That ugly, oversized and weird-looking badge on the Q45's nose has been shaved off and replaced with a subtle and elegant chrome grille, a grille stylish enough to look good on a Jaguar. The awkward-looking chrome door handles are still there, but what the heck. Now the Q45 is as beautiful as it is fast. And the 1994 model Q45 has it all, looks, performance, value and style. It's rare to find a car with all those qualities. PERFORMANCE The one area where the Q45 never needed any improvement is under the hood. As with previous models, the 1994 version features one of the world's great passenger-car engines. It's a 278-horsepower four-cam V-8 with 32 valves and a sophisticated computer system. Generally, engineers will sacrifice power to attain smoothness. In creating the 4.5-liter, aluminum V-8, Nissan's engineers delivered both. The slightest touch of the accelerator provokes an instant response as the big V-8 signals its eagerness to please. Unlike the Lexus LS 400 - the Q45's main rival - the V-8 in the Infiniti lets you know it's there by providing a wonderful array of expensive-sounding mechanical noises. It's not loud, but when you wind it up, you can hear the engine breathing. And those with sporting aspirations who appreciate a thoroughbred car may find their pulse quickening just a bit as the tachometer needle sweeps across the dial. Several auto magazines have tested previous models of the Q45 and have clocked 0-to-60 mph times in the 7.5-second range. If the Q45's performance has a drawback, it's this: The car performs best once it's over the 65 mph speed limit. Our t est car - as do all Q45s - came with a four-speed automatic that is linked to the engine via computer for supremely smooth shifts. Terrific fuel mileage is not one of the things you get with a Q45. In city driving using the air conditioner, the test car delivered just 14 miles per gallon. Also, buyers are socked with a $2,000 gas guzzler tax, which is included in the price of the car. HANDLING The test car came with the optional full-active suspension system. That's why there's a little ''a'' after the Q45 on the trunk lid. This is not an option, but a separate model, according to Infiniti. I have a theory that cars - especially luxury cars -are becoming over-engineered, overweight and overpriced. I have driven the standard version of the Q45 and I like it better than the Q45a test car. Here's why: The regular version provides world-class handling and it will do anything any normal, sane driver could ask of it. I don't think the active suspen ion system, a bulky 250-pound piece of computerized machinery, adds that much to the Q45a's overall road-worthiness. In a nutshell, the full-active suspension system keeps the body stable during high-performance maneuvers. When the Q45 is ordered with the full-active suspension system, Infiniti throws in traction control. There comes a time when engineers have to assess a car's performance with the environment in which it will be driven. In Germany, where there are no speed limits on the Autobahn, maybe one could make a case for the full-active suspension. But here, when one legally can go only 65 mph, the system isn't needed. That said, I found the test car to be agile and athletic and able to remain poised under all circumstances. But I found the same traits on the standard model, too. And it seemed faster because it was lighter. Underneath, there's a near-perfect power-assisted rack and pinion steering system and a powerful set of four-wheel, anti-lock disc brakes. Front and rear suspension is independent. FIT AND FINISH Even though the original Q45was a dud, it did have something going for it that few other autos can match. Since it first came out, the Q45 has been one of the world's best-built cars, according to numerous owner surveys. The 1994 model is likely to uphold or enhance that tradition. Our test car's build-quality can be summed up with just one word: flawless. So far, I've mentioned the new Q45's exterior improvements, but there's been plenty of refurbishing inside, too. There are classy-looking highly polished wood inserts on the console and doors. And that great-looking, old-fashioned gold accented clock from the Q45's smaller sibling, the J30, has been planted on the dash between the air-conditioning vents. Also, Infiniti has redesigned the eight-way power adjustable seats. The seats are extremely firm, though the leather seems softer and better-looking. Needless to say, the Q45a comes with just about every power accessory known to man. It ought to for $54,000 and change. Thanks to its face lift, the new Q45 goes where no other Japanese luxury car has been. It has styling that is classy, elegant and original. In 1994 the Infiniti Q45 ranks as one of the world's finest luxury cars. Truett's tip: Thanks to a major face lift and an improved interior, the new Q45 can now be considered one of the world's best luxury cars.
|Richard Truett||Orlando Sentinel||July 15, 1993|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||May 17, 1993|
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