Infiniti For 1997
By Carey Russ
After a couple of quiet years in which the I30 was the only new product, Infiniti has some major revisions to its lineup. A completely new flagship Q45 and the division's first sport-utility, the QX4 make their debut this year.
Only the name is the same. Reflecting changes in the luxury car market, the 1997 Q45 is a entirely new car that shares only the name with its predecessor.
The new chassis is lighter and more rigid than that of the old Q45, and the suspension has been redesigned. A new 4.1-liter V8 engine produces more torque at commonly-used engine speeds that did the engine in the previous Q45. It is also quieter and more economical. The electronically-controlled automatic transmission has been upgraded. Antilock disc brakes and traction control are standard equipment.
In Infiniti tradition, the Q45 is offered in Standard and Touring models. Equipment levels are so high that the only options are heated front seats and a trunk-mounted CD changer for the Standard model.
Infiniti's first entry into the luxury sport-utility field is the QX4. It comes fully-equipped with a leather-and-woodgrain interior, upscale audio system, V6 engine with an electronically-controlled automatic transmission, antilock brakes, and the All-Mode all-wheel drive system. It is priced very competitively compared with other luxury sport-utilities. There are only three options: heated front seats, a power sunroof, and a sport package.
"MonoFrame" construction, combining the best characteristics of car-type unit construction and trucklike body-on-frame assembly, makes for a sturdy platform. A 3.3-liter V6 engine with first-rate low- speed torque characteristics provides power. The exterior is more highly styled than some other sport-utilities, and the interior is designed to Infiniti standards.
Introduced in May, 1995, the I30 has been quite successful, being responsible for over half of Infiniti sales. It has only minor changes for 1997.
Like the I30, the J30 is largely unchanged.