On sale since April 2001 as a 2002 model, Infinitis flagship performance luxury sedan is entering its third generation with a lot more power than before 340 horsepower to be precise, courtesy of a bigger and more efficient V-8 engine. First seen at the 2000 New York Auto Show and officially introduced at Detroits North American International Auto Show in January 2001, the top sedan from Nissans luxury division hasnt changed much in size but has a load of new technical features, either standard or optional.
A new voice-recognition system, a first for Infiniti, can be used to control the 300-watt Bose stereo, climate-control and navigation systems functions. The eight-speaker stereo includes a 12-inch woofer and a six-CD changer mounted in the glove box. Infiniti claims the Q45s headlights are among the most powerful in the world.
The four-wheel-independent suspension has been redesigned with a new multilink setup at the rear. Power rack-and-pinion steering is speed-sensitive.
Although the overall length of the Q45 is the same 199.6 inches as the prior model, its wheelbase has grown from 111.4 to 113 inches. The Q45s width also has increased, by nearly an inch, to 72.6 inches. A reshaping of the sculpted-profile body has made it more aerodynamically efficient.
A large titanium-color grille is framed by the integrated front bumper and fascia and features a prominent Infiniti badge. Large taillights sit past a raised rear deck. New 17- and 18-inch wheels are used. Large multilens-projected high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights have seven individual lenses and a free-surface reflector. Because the headlight beam area is so wide, supplementary fog lamps are not considered necessary. Eight body colors are available.
Dual body-color, heated outside mirrors are available with integral turn signals. The drivers side mirror dims automatically, and mirrors dip down automatically while backing up.
Standard 17-inch aluminum wheels hold P225/55VR17 tires, and 18-inch tires (P245/45VR18) are optional with the Sport Package. Run-flat tires that are capable of being driven 50 miles without air, at speeds of up to 55 mph, will be available in July 2001 a first for Infiniti. A low-tire-pressure monitoring system is standard.
Soft leather and genuine Birds Eye Maple wood highlight the five-passenger interior, which is more than 9 cubic feet larger than the prior generations. The driver faces a hand-stitched leather/wood steering wheel and round instruments with an electroluminescent display. The 10-way power drivers seat and eight-way front passenger seat have memory. Dual-zone automatic temperature control, an anti-theft device called Vehicle Immobilizer System and Infinitis familiar analog clock on the dashboard are standard. A power rear-window sunshade and manual rear door window sunshades are optional. Optional power rear seats have an adjustable backrest angle.
An electronic key is used to start the engine; as a theft-protection measure, its said to be virtually impossible to copy. The Q45s Vehicle Information System has a 7-inch LCD screen (or a 5.8-inch screen if the optional navigation system is not installed). An optional rearview monitor system that employs a small camera mounted near the license plate uses the LCD screen to display an image of the area in back of the car when its backing up. The optional DVD-driven navigation system, which contains the entire U.S. map on one disc, has a 3-D Birdview display. Five option groups are available, including a full Sport Package.
Under the Hood
The Q45s 4.5-liter V-8 engine develops 340 hp 74 hp more than in the prior generation. Torque output also has risen by 55 pounds-feet. A variable-length air induction system and continuously variable valve timing control help to boost the engines efficiency. An all-new five-speed-automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shifting mode and is almost 50 pounds lighter than its four-speed predecessor. Infiniti claims a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of about 5.9 seconds.
Standard features include four-wheel vented antilock disc brakes, rear child-seat tether anchors, dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags and front-seat active head restraints that protect against excessive backward head movement. New curtain-type airbags deploy from the roof for head protection of front and rear occupants. Electronic brake-force distribution controls front and rear brake operation according to load, and a Brake Assist System reduces pedal effort in hard stops.
A Vehicle Dynamic Control system governs brake pressure and engine torque automatically on slippery surfaces or in demanding maneuvers. A new radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control system that maintains a fixed distance between the Q45 and the vehicle ahead is also available.
Superlative may be the most accurate way to describe Infinitis latest Q. When the first Q45 debuted for 1990, it exuded luxury and comfort, with a significant helping of performance. The second-generation version dropped back a notch, losing some of its luster. Now, for 2002, the elegance is back with a vengeance, augmented by sterling performance and satisfying handling traits.
Exceptionally easy to drive for a big car, the Q45 is actually fun to maneuver, too hardly a common reaction among full-size sedans. Acceleration reaches beyond energetic as the V-8 engine delivers its hefty output in an utterly civilized manner, maintaining refined noise levels even when pushed hard. You can expect a momentary delay when hitting the gas to pass or merge, but the Q45 then lunges ahead, narrowing its focus to the task at hand. Gear changes are barely discernible.
Steering with a somewhat light touch, the Q45 offers excellent feel and feedback, maneuvering almost like a small car in corners and grasping the pavement tenaciously through curves. As for ride comfort, the Infiniti suspension basically nudges aside nearly all imperfections as if they were trivial fleas with which the Q cannot be bothered. Even deep potholes are dealt with handily, transmitting only minimal sensations to occupants.
Lushly cushioned yet highly supportive seats are covered with fine leather the kind of seats that make a person reluctant to leave the car. Driver headroom is acceptable but not huge, unless the seat is positioned at its lowest point, but elbowroom and leg space are abundant. The glove box is immense, while the trunk is wide and rectangular but it doesnt extend far back in length.
Electronically lit gauges are easy to read at a glance. Infinitis Bird View navigation system delivers easy-to-understand route instructions and shows a panoramic map display. Many drivers like it a lot better than the usual flat map, but some find it harder to read and follow.