- The Washington Times - Friday, August 24, 2001

Infiniti is no longer perceived as a rock, as once depicted by its premiere advertising campaign. That much maligned esoteric approach did little to popularize the first Lexus fighter.
I was always more taken by the Q45 from Nissan's luxury division, in that it made no pretense about being something that it wasn't. It was, without question, a superbly performing luxury sedan that made no attempt at cloning itself in the likeness of any other luxury sedan, be it German, Japanese or domestic in origin.
The new Q is powered by an impressive 4.5-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft, 32-valve V-8 engine that pumps out 340 horses and 333 pounds-feet of torque, driving the rear wheels. The transmission is an automatic unit with five speeds that changes gears on its own, or if you choose, at your prompting through the gated panel, when in the manual shift mode — in either case, it does so with finesse. A plethora of modern luxury features and appointments abound in this latest Q45 marvel, coupled seamlessly with invigorating performance characteristics.
Base manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the Infiniti flagship is $50,500. The final sticker is yet another matter dependent upon the options chosen. I first tested a Desert Platinum finished Q45, supplementally equipped with: the Sunshade package; Sport package; Navigation package; along with a few other individual extras that totaled $55,895 on the bottom line. Later I got a Hunter Green Q45, fitted out with the $8,000 Premium package (which includes the Sport content, Navigation system and a great deal more), as well as a few minor options. The latter test vehicle tipped the register at $59,345 — you might be thinking that for that kind of cash outlay, the car ought to talk to you, entertain you, and practically drive itself. You're right, of course, and it does all of the aforementioned except drive itself it only comes close in that department.
The Infiniti Q45 for 2002 is the most technologically advanced Infiniti to grace the dealer's showrooms yet, and, in my opinion, it is the most visually appealing, as well. The styling consists of dynamic images that tout individualism in a graceful and sporty image. From the multiple-lens (seven in all) projector beam high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps to the raised rear deck, the Q45 is a winner in terms of its overall aesthetic impression. The wheelbase is extended, the car is higher, and the all-steel unibody is 40 percent more torsionally rigid than its predecessor. Yet, the aerodynamic efficiency is improved from a drag coefficient of .32 to .30.
If you're interested in a Star Wars approach to travel, the Q45 seems to have it all in technology enhancements. Included are: Vehicle Dynamic Control; Electronic Torque-Demand Powertrain Control System; Electronic Brake Distribution; four-wheel anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist; variable speed-sensitive power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering; Voice-Recognition System featuring Visteon Voice Technology; Vehicle Information System (VIS) with a centered multifunction 7-inch liquid crystal display screen with DVD-driven Infiniti navigation system with 3-D Birdview graphics; a Rearview Monitor that provides a camera view of objects behind the vehicle with a grid alignment for aid in parallel parking; and Active Damping Suspension with a selectable sport mode. A laser-based Adaptive Cruise Control becomes available in mid-to-late summer of this year.
Both inside and outside design chores were taken care of at the Nissan Technical Center (NTC) in Atsugi, Japan, while actual assembly will take place in Tochigi, Japan, handled by Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Interior trim tones may be varied to suit owner tastes and desires. The Sport-package-equipped model that I tested featured gray-toned wood trim accents with a look that resembled marble, while the Premium package Q45 offered naturally finished, genuine bird's-eye maple pieces. Standard wheels are 17 inches and may be optionally specified as run-flat. Available 18-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels give the Q45 a more sinewy look.
Summary: The Infiniti Q45 is, quite simply put, a splendid machine in which to depart from point A. Arriving at point B may be accomplished in either an active or passive manner the choice is singularly the driver's. The car's design appeal is also clearly based upon individual taste. I am personally fond of the Q's distinctive styling, while it may not be everyone's cup of tea. In terms of performance capability, the Q45 provides rapid transportation that is both smooth and quiet (unless one cranks up the to-die-for Bose audio system). The new five-speed auto-shifter that is lighter than the four-speed automatic gearbox that it replaces, moves progressively in either direction seamlessly. The 340 horses under the bonnet move the car from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds — who says you can't have your cake and eat it, too?
The 2002 Infiniti Q45 is stately with an attitude — not of pretension, mind you, but of high-spiritedness. The Q is state of the art in every respect, with virtually every modern bit of technology in place. Comfort and safety issues are addressed equitably. The switch gear is not immediately intuitive and requires some familiarity to operate efficiently. The primary (upgraded to 7 inches) VIS screen is mounted high in the center of the instrument panel and, although it is hooded, is difficult to view properly, particularly in bright conditions while wearing sunglasses this is obviously a correctable issue.
The price of the latest Q45 may well be one of the its most attractive elements — this benchmark Infiniti is destined to be a serious contender in the high-end luxury sport-sedan marketplace. German, Japanese and domestic manufacturers in this segment have cause for concern.


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