Sales of the Q45 dropped 24 percent in 1999 to 6,271 units and are sliding further during the 2000 model year. The Q45 carries over for 2001, but Infiniti hopes to turn things around with a new version of its flagship sedan that goes on sale in spring 2001 as an early 2002 model.Infiniti says the 2002 model will retain rear-wheel drive but will have a new 340-horsepower 4.5-liter V-8 engine under the hood, a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and styling that blends Mercedes cues with elements from the original Q45 of 1990 1996.
Among the new features on the 2002 model will be a rearview monitor system. When the transmission is in reverse, a small camera mounted near the rear license plate will show what is behind the car on a 7-inch LCD screen in the dashboard. The same screen will display a new bird-view navigation system, climate controls and other functions.
Until then, the current second-generation model comes with minor updates for its final season. Infiniti is the luxury division of Nissan, and the rear-drive Q45 is its most expensive model. Main rivals include the Lexus LS 430, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, and BMW 5 Series and 7 Series.
With an overall length of 200 inches, the Q45 is a few inches longer than the Lexus LS 430 and a little shorter than the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. A large chrome grille flanked by twin round headlights dominate the Q45s front styling.
Seats for five are standard in the leather-clad interior, but the center-rear passenger straddles the driveshaft, making it impractical and uncomfortable for a long trip. Trunk space is a modest 12.6 cubic feet.
Standard amenities include eight-way power front seats, automatic temperature control, a power-operated rear sunshade and an eight-speaker, 200-watt Bose audio system with an in-dash CD player.
Under the Hood
This sedan comes in two trims: the standard Q45 and the Q45t Touring model; both have a 266-hp 4.1-liter V-8 engine that teams with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The Q45t takes a sportier path with 17-inch wheels and tires, instead of the base models 16-inch wheels, and an electronically adjustable suspension with Sport and Auto settings.
Side-impact airbags that protect the heads and chests of front-seat occupants, antilock brakes and traction control are standard. The Q45 also has active head restraints for the front seats that move upward and forward in rear-end collisions to reduce the chances of whiplash injuries.