Following a major redesign last year, changes are more modest in 2003 for Infinitis flagship sedan, even though the automaker claims that more than 24 enhancements have been made. A revised grille, headlight surrounds and a rear finisher give the Q45 sedan what Infiniti calls a fresh look and feel. A new trunk pull-down feature that automatically closes the trunk lid is standard. Climate-controlled front seats are newly available and come standard on the Premium model. An XM or Sirius Satellite Radio can be installed, and the trunk holds a full-size spare tire.
The current Q45 is still equipped with rear-wheel drive. The sedan reaches closer to the models beginning, as a 1990 model, by displaying an elegant persona that some observers felt was absent from the second-generation sedan.
Riding a 113-inch wheelbase, the Q45 is 199.6 inches long overall. Last years reshaping of the sculpted-profile body made it more aerodynamically efficient. A large, titanium-colored grille is framed by the integrated front bumper and fascia and features a prominent Infiniti badge. Large taillights sit past a raised rear deck. Large high-intensity-discharge headlights have seven individual lenses and a free-surface reflector. Heated, automatic-dimming outside mirrors include a memory feature and integral turn signals.
Standard aluminum wheels hold P225/55VR17 tires, but run-flat and 18-inch tires are optional. A low-tire-pressure monitoring system is standard. The Q45s power rack-and-pinion steering is speed-sensitive.
Soft leather and genuine Birds Eye Maple highlight the five-passenger interior. The driver faces a hand-stitched leather and wood steering wheel and electroluminescent round instruments. A power rear-window sunshade and manual sunshades for the rear-door windows are optional. Available power rear seats have an adjustable backrest angle.
The Vehicle Information System has a 7-inch LCD screen, which comes with a 5.8-inch screen when the optional 3-D navigation system is not installed. Other options include radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control and a rearview monitor system that uses the LCD screen to display an image of the area in back of the car when its backing up.
Under the Hood
The 4.5-liter V-8 engine develops 340 horsepower. A variable-length air induction system and continuously variable valve timing control boost engine efficiency. A five-speed-automatic transmission incorporates a manual-shifting mode. Infiniti claims a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of about 5.9 seconds for the Q45.
Standard features include vented antilock disc brakes, rear child-safety seat tether anchors, side-impact airbags and active head restraints for the front seats. Side curtain-type airbags that deploy from the roof for head protection are also standard. A Vehicle Dynamic Control system governs brake pressure and engine torque automatically on slippery surfaces or in demanding maneuvers.
The elegance of the first Q45 is back with a vengeance and is augmented by sterling performance and satisfying handling traits. The Q45 is exceptionally easy to drive for a big car, and its also fun to maneuver. Acceleration reaches beyond energetic as the V-8 delivers its hefty output in an utterly civilized manner, while maintaining refined noise levels.
The Q45 steers with a somewhat light touch, and it offers excellent feel and feedback by grasping the pavement tenaciously through curves. As for the Q45s ride comfort, the Infiniti suspension basically nudges aside nearly all imperfections; even deep potholes are dealt with handily.
Lushly cushioned yet highly supportive seats are covered with fine leather. The drivers headroom is acceptable but not huge, and elbowroom and legroom are abundant.