1998 INFINITI Q45 Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D

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Expert Reviews ( 1 )

Mike Knepper

The combatants are the elite: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Audi, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti. And in the big picture they don't amount to a cheeseburger in the fast-food world of automotive sales. But the people who make them and the people who buy them are very serious about their luxury cars. That's why there's a lot of punching and rolling around and, yes, some name calling in the attempt to get your name on the bottom line.

Arguably, no one is fighting harder than Infiniti. How? By building a very good car. Powerful, quiet, roomy, comfortable. However, those descriptions can be used for any of the others. So what's a potential luxury car owner to do? Study the specs and the list of standard features. They'll be pretty much the same also. Compare prices. Same. That leaves two things, both highly subjective: How do they look? How do they drive? That's what it boils down to and both questions lead to somewhat subjective answers. Walkaround
The Q45 does not have the classical luxury car look of Mercedes, BMW and Lexus, nor does it have the aggressive

styling of the Cadillac STS.

So what does the Q45 have to offer in terms of styling? Last year, when some changes were made, the Infiniti

folks said the Q45 was clean-sheet-of-paper new. That was hard to see at a glance. Although the differences from the

previous model were significant, they were subtle. The sheetmetal had been reshaped to give the car the more traditional

look. The previous model had a distinctive look, but the lack of a big chrome grille meant it didn't appeal to everyone.

The Q45 has an elegant look that is distinctive, and slightly reminiscent of Jaguar sedans. It is still stallion

sleek with a long, sloping nose, a thin roof line and steeply raked rear glass. A strong character line separates

the upper flanks from the lower.

Infiniti's Q45 looks like a thoroughbred. But what about its performance?

It's a rare thing to have a car company say, "Hey, look at us--our engine is smaller than it was." But that's

what we heard last year. The previous generation Infiniti engine, a 4.5-liter, dual overhead-cam, 32-valve V8,

was all the rage when the Q45 was originally launched because the car delivered thrilling performance. Slam the

accelerator to the floor while cruising along and it nearly leaped off the pavement and quickly accelerated past

100 mph.

The new engine is a refinement of the previous 4.5-liter V8. The displacement was reduced to 4.1 liters, but the

folks at Nissan have been working hard to reduce the weight of the car while extracting more power and efficiency

out of the engine.

Infiniti's 4.1-liter engine generates 266 horsepower, and 278 foot-pounds of torque. Both of those numbers are

slightly lower than the old 4.5-liter engine, but because of weight saved in the refinement process the power-to-weight

ratio is unchanged. Infiniti has maintained the stellar performance of the Q45 and that's good news. Even better,

Infiniti managed to increase fuel efficiency to 18/23 mpg city/highway, keeping the Q45 away from official gas guzzler

territory. This engine is based on the same powerplant as the Infiniti Indy V8 used in the Indy Racing League cars.

Another benefit of the newer engine is that it is lighter, which takes some load off the front wheels. This gives

the big sedan a more nimble feel and improves its handling on twisty roads. Although peak torque is at a relatively

high 4000 rpm, there is usable torque low in the power range and that means better low-speed acceleration. There's lots

of power here and Infiniti says the Q45 accelerates from 0-60 mph in about 7.8 seconds.

The engine has variable valve timing, which adjusts valve opening and closing according to engine speed and load.

Variable valve timing is a key element in the engine's efficiency. It's a proven technology and is a big plus.

The V8 drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission and viscous limited-slip differential

with traction control.

The MacPherson strut front suspension was designed to provide good handling without compromising on that luxury

car feel.

In the rear, the Q45 has a multi-link arrangement designed to keep more tire contact patch on the road, and more

patch means more grip. Anti-dive and anti-squat characteristics mean improved grip under hard braking and


The Q45t (touring) has a slightly more aggressive suspension tune for a sportier feel. Interior
Prestige cars traditionally offer a lap-of-luxury interior environment. The Q45 cleaves hard and fast to the

traditional approach. What isn't covered in leather is covered in woodgrain. The leather is some of the best in

the business: buttery soft and perfectly stitched. It comes in three tasteful colors, beige, stone beige and black.

Occupants sit relatively low in the car, though not uncomfortably low, providing a sense of security, a feeling

of being surrounded by body structure. The power front seats adjust in 10 directions and have power lumbar supports.

There is a two-position memory for driver entry and exit, an eight-speaker Bose sound system and Homelink, a

transmitter system for opening gates and garage doors.

That $48,890 base price (including destination) brings a vast array of features that are essential in this

class: power tilt/telescope steering, cruise control, speed-sensitive wipers, timed rear window defroster, dual

vanity mirrors, power windows, locks, and trunk and fuel door. Separate climate controls for the rear seats help

ensure passengers in back are comfortable.

The Q45 comes with dual front airbags, side air bags that deploy from the front seats and front seat belt

pre-tensioners. There are pick-resistant door locks. If, somehow, the castle has been breached, the perpetrator

will run up against the Infiniti Personalized Protection System that combines 60,000 possible key codes with a

new, numerically random rolling code generated by the engine's computer each time the ignition is turned off.

A nice touch we liked is the Interior Light Logic feature. It turns the interior lights on very brightly in

the open door for easy entry and exit without blasting the rest of the cabin with intense light. We also liked

the pin light that bathes the center console and front door panels with soft light that makes finding and operating

controls a bit easier. Driving Impressions
Performance has always been an Infiniti trait. Throttle response is instant, whether you're moving away from a

stoplight, making a tight freeway merge or passing.

This V8 is among the smoothest and most satisfying around today, easily holding its own with the Lexus and BMW

offerings and perhaps even a touch smoother and quieter than the Mercedes-Benz V8s. The Q45 has always been more

of a driver's car than the LS 400 and that tradition continues. The engine and transmission are connected

electronically so smooth, precise shifts are based on speed and load. On the road, the feeling is of a seamless

flow of power with no hesitation or jerkiness between shifts.

The suspension produces as advertised. The car feels firmly planted--stable as a train in a straight line,

controlled in turns. Whether it's the weight loss over the front wheels, the suspension tune or a combination

of both, the Q45 feels very nimble for a large luxury car. Steering is quick, the suspension is well damped,

but doesn't float. Visibility is good. Overall comfort is good. This car is as much at home lazing around town

as it is devouring miles of interstate. It's a nice place to be. Summary
The Q45 is a very satisfying car to drive: excellent performance, good handling, a well-damped ride, the works. It makes its own design statement. That brings us back to what we said before. Look at, drive it. Then decide for yourself. As for us, we like it.

Model as tested
Basic Warranty
4 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Safety equipment (standard)
Safety equipment (optional)
4.1-liter dohc 32v V8
4-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
ABS, traction control, dual zone automatic climate control air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo, heated power leather seats, entry/exit memory, power windows, power locks, keyless remote entry, power trunk and fuel door releases, cruise control, tilt/telescope steering wheel, auxiliary audio controls, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, Homelink transmitter, speed-sensitive wipers, auto off/on headlights, aluminum alloy wheels

Engine & Transmission
4.1-liter dohc 32v V8
Drivetrain type
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
266 @ 5600
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
Suspension, front
Suspension, rear

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

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