1995 INFINITI Q45 A
Used Car - 1995 Infiniti Q45 A in Portsmouth, Va
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1995 Infiniti Q45 ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
The big 'Q' stands for quality.
Five years after its debut, the Infiniti Q45 luxury sedan is still a relatively rare sight on most North American roads. Although this is an excellent car in almost every way, The Q45's slow market acceptance has to do with decisions made during the marketing launch.
Following the success of Honda's Acura experiment, the luxury-car divisions of Toyota and Nissan made their debuts close on one anther's heels in mid-1989. Toyota's Lexus LS 400 sedan was an immediate hit; the Infiniti Q45 built sales momentum slowly, thanks largely to an ad campaign that showed pictures of rocks and tranquil ponds rather than the car.
Another factor was - and still is - price. On opening day, the Q45 carried a $38,000 sticker. Increases have pushed the tab well beyond the $50,000 mark, putting the car head to head with some strong European competition, as well as its arch rival from Lexus.
Still another cause of the Q45's sluggish start in the luxury-sedan sales race can be attributed to those responsible for its concept and design. Although the design team deserves credit for attempting to do something original, in contrast to the Mercedes-derivative approach taken by Lexus, the result verged on anonymity. As it first appeared, the Q45 was plain, almost austere, inside and out. No frills, no grille, no distinctive styling touches - not much there to attract the attention of passersby. Or the attention of potential buyers.
Even so, those who did buy it, and the critics who tested it, loved the original Q45 for its performance, agility and painstaking quality. And even more people from both camps love the current version, which has been touched up in highly visible ways. The new, warmer and more inviting Q45 was a 1994 arrival carried over virtually unchanged for 1995.
Even if your initial take on the Q45 is that it remains too restrained and does not adequately advertise its owner's investment to the outside world, we advise you to take a second look and a test drive. The Q45 is one classy automobile.
The model we tested, a Q45t with Touring Package, was equipped with a 10-disc CD changer, heated seats and performance alloy wheels, which put the price at $56,250.
Your first glance at the Q45 may provoke a 'seen it before' reaction. The big 4-door sedan does indeed have a design inspiration, one that appears to come largely from the folks who penned the lovely Jaguar XJ Series sedans. The proportions of hood, greenhouse and rear deck are the first tip-off, followed by the pronounced 'shoulder' between the rearmost roof pillar and the rear fender. The grille, added in the 1994 redo, looks as if it was drawn in England, not Japan.
That said, it must be emphasized that the Q45 has an overall look of its own. Inspiration is not plagiarism, and no one will mistake an Infiniti for a Jaguar.
And the Q45 is a wonderfully attractive car. Some may find the grille less appealing than the plain front panel of 1990-93, but that's a matter of individual preference, and few will have any but kind words for the balance and masterful detailing of the body shape.
It's amazing what a little wood and soft leather will do for the appearance of a car. The Q45's major interior components all are carried over from the original version, but the addition of some subdued wood accents and plusher looking leather seats have made a considerable difference in the cabin's appearance.
Otherwise, everything is near-perfect. The instruments and controls are logically placed, handsome and easy to use, the seats are among the most comfortable and supportive in the automotive world, and sound and climate-control systems perform to the level you'd very reasonably expect in a car that costs more than 50 grand.
There's nothing especially unusual about the Q45's interior. No special fitments, no heads-up displays or built-in blenders to mix drinks with while underway - just the expected array of power assists and comfort and convenience features. What sets this inside space apart from others is the way all the systems look and feel. That's something better explained by a test drive than with words.
It's quiet inside the Q45, too, but the same can be said for the cabins of many other luxury sedans. Some, to be honest, are quieter; every Q45 we've sampled has suffered more from wind noise than do most rivals.
That one quibble aside, the Q45 cossets its occupants in fine style. The engine is only a muted hum at speed, tire noise is well-suppressed and the suspension takes care of irregularities in the pavement before they intrude.
The Q45 driving experience is strongly affected by the model being driven. There are three: base Q45, the Q45t that we drove, and the Q45a, which is endowed with the industry's only active suspension system (called Full-Active Suspension) on a production car. Each of these versions responds to its driver in a different way.
All three share a superb 278-hp V8 engine and electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission. Anyone who appreciates potent 8-cylinder powerplants will love this one; it has more than enough power to push the 2-ton Q45 down the road, accelerates with authority either from a full stop or in passing situations, and makes a healthy sound that is music to an enthusiast's ears. It is thirsty, however, using up premium fuel on the highway at an average rate close to what is stated as the EPA city mileage.
The base Q45s have suspension settings biased toward comfort, delivering a smooth ride regardless of road conditions. As a consequence, cornering provokes some body roll. That's the only penalty of having soft springs. Whether accelerating, steering or stopping, the standard Q45 is never less than pleasant to drive.
The Touring Package adds rear-wheel steering, stiffer springs and a rear anti-roll bar. These produce the expected result: a more driver-oriented compromise between ride and handling. Although it was firmer, with quicker responses, our Q45t was a long way from harsh.
We could have, however, done without the Q45t's 4-wheel steering. This feature may be beneficial in some rare in-stances, but the most noticeable effect we found was a slight decrease in steering response.
We suggest you opt for the Q45a. Its Full-Active Suspension system (computer-controlled hydraulic pumps at each wheel) eliminates nosedive during braking and body roll, and it smooths out road surface irregularities. Electronic traction control and a faster-ratio steering rack also are included in the package. In concert, they give the Q45a the best all-around ride and handling.
It's only fair to note that this system adds an extra toll - about $7000 - to the bottom line. But so equipped, the Q45a is a genuine sport sedan, yet still as comfortable as any big cruiser you care to name.
By any measure, the Infiniti Q45 is impressive. Rock solid, crafted to the highest standards and capable of being as relaxed or responsive as its driver wishes, the big Q45 is a lot of car.
Yes, it does cost a pretty penny. There are several seductive choices for the buyer with $50,000 or so to spend - the Lexus LS 400, Cadillac Seville, Oldsmobile Aurora, BMW 750iL and the new Lincoln Continental, to name just a few - and each is worth careful consideration.
Among them, the Q45 is the least obtrusive and takes the longest time to appreciate. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about it is that the owner will find the Infiniti flagship appealing and fresh long after the purchase contract has run out.