New Car/Review

Infiniti

1999 Infiniti Q45t

By Matt/Bob Hagin

Infiniti Full Line Video footage (4:38) 28.8, 56k, or 200k
SPECIFICATIONS

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 49,900
     Price As Tested                                    $ 50,935
     Engine Type      NVTCS* DOHC 32 valve 4.1 Liter V8 w/SMFI**
     Engine Size                                 252 cid/4130 cc
     Horsepower                                   266 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               278 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  111.4"/71.7"/199.6"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     4055 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.4 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                         P225/50VR17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                               Five-percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32

PERFORMANCE

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            17/24/21          

     0-60 MPH                                        8.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          16.0 seconds @ 89.5 mph
     Top speed                                           140 mph
     * Variable valve timing control
     ** Sequential multi-port fuel injection

(Infiniti is in its tenth year of existence and has had its ups and downs according to Matt Hagin. His father Bob says luxury cars are like chocolate cake: he can only take it in small doses.)

MATT - When the Infiniti line sprung into life 10 years ago, its TV promos showed hazy shots of banzai trees, Japanese foot bridges and oriental landscapes along with philosophical phrases. When the cars themselves were finally shown, the finale was sort of anti-climactic. However, its luxurious Q45 sedan was an eye-opener. With a big V8 engine and rear-wheel drive, it was immediately identified as an architypal luxury car that fit the American concept of that market niche.

BOB - It's fun to be able to chauffeur a big car like this Q45 around for a week or two, but eventually I feel uncomfortable in them. I'm kind of a simple guy and more at home in less ostentatious vehicles. The interior is totally trimmed in leather and uses enough of the stuff to cover the couches of half a dozen psychiatrist offices, and its vast amounts of polished wood gives it the feeling of a posh gentleman's club in London. This ornate feeling extends even to the fancy analog clock that's situated directly in the middle of the dashboard. This art deco timepiece was a standard Q45 feature for a long time, then it was dropped for a few years and now it's back.

MATT - This version of the Q45 is two years old and has been "decontented" enough to bring it within the reach of more average buyers. The size of the engine was dropped from 4.5 liters to 4.1 and I suspect that this was done to keep it out of the high-tax "gas-guzzler" category. Its horsepower dropped to 266, which is still enough to pull the big two-ton machine along at a pretty good clip. It's 0 to 60 time is 8.5 seconds and it does the quarter-mile in 16 seconds. The factory lists its top speed at 140 MPH but I was reluctant to go that fast driving it around town. The transmission is a four-speed automatic.

BOB - The engine has two cams per cylinder head, four valves per cylinder and a variable valve timing system that gives it good pull over its entire RPM range. It's the basis of one of the two stock-block engines that are used by the Indy Racing League in the Indy 500. In that form it puts out a little over 700 horses but it would be a bit fragile to use in a car like the Q45.

MATT - Actually, the version that we tried is officially called the Q45t, the "t" signifying that it's a Touring model. The shocks and spring rates are a bit tighter and the sway bars are of a different thickness. The suspension can be adjusted manually by the driver but to tell the truth, I couldn't tell much difference between the settings. There's a viscous-controlled limited slip differential "spool" in the rear end and the car has a traction-control system that automatically shuts off the fuel to a couple of cylinders if the driver and/or the car itself starts to break traction. The wheel and tire combination looks great with P225/50R's mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels. The disc brakes are really large and the fronts have four cylinders per caliper. Combined with the ABS system and the traction control unit, it would be hard for a driver to get into trouble.

BOB - Our car also has an optional spoiler on the trunk that signifies that it's a hot model. At a little over $500, that wing is a waste of money and strictly an ego booster, but I guess that lots of buyers go for that sort of thing. I did think that the automatic trunk closer was neat. You only have to get the trunk lid close to the sill and it will pull itself shut. And it also has a driver-controlled shade on the rear window to keep the sun off of backseat passengers and to add a little more privacy back there.

MATT - I wasn't happy about the fact that the engine required premium fuel, Dad. The price of gasoline is gradually going up all over the country and even the owner of a luxury-liner should be frugal.

BOB - The price of gas was something that your older brothers never worried about, Matt. I didn't know until years later that they got the gas for their old clunkers by siphoning it little by little from my car.

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