Nissan Unsure Whether to Re-Introduce New Infiniti Q Flagship Sedan

By Chris Haak

02.07.2008

The Infiniti Q45, which had been Infiniti’s US flagship since the brand’s US introduction nearly 20 years ago, ceased production in 2006 (a 2006 Q45 is pictured at left). The car was expensive and didn’t offer significant value over the slightly smaller and far less expensive M45 sedan (a 2006 Q45 started at almost $59,000, while a 2008 M45 starts just over $60,000). Many people (myself included) probably also believe that the M45 (pictured below) is a more attractive vehicle than the 2006 Q45 was, as well.

US Infiniti dealers have been pining for a new-generation Q. The chairman of Infiniti’s national dealer council, Peter Wilson, is convinced that a flagship will come, but doesn’t know what form the vehicle will take. Mark Igo, general manager of Infiniti North America is also among the proponents of bringing back the Q.

There are two major obstacles to building a new Q. The first is Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn, who has gone on record saying that he isn’t convinced that Infiniti needs a Q45. Ghosn is also a very dollars-and-cents oriented manager, so if there is not a strong business case for a new Q, it won’t be built.

The second obstacle is actually even more difficult to overcome: Infiniti, which was once a US-only brand, is going global. A new Q sedan no longer has to meet the needs and expectations of US consumers, but now has to satisfy customers in China, Russia, and several European markets. In China, for example, a flagship vehicle is expected to be used as a limousine with a driver. In the US, it would be expected to be large and comfortable, but still have adequate power and an engaging driving experience. Europeans would probably expect the top-of-the-line Infiniti to be smaller than Americans would, with firmer suspension capable of unrestricted Autobahn speeds.

I rode in a 1990 Q45 (pictured at left) when they were first introduced, and it was an awesome machine. Unfortunately, Infiniti’s oddball launch strategy of showing rocks and trees instead of the car led to relatively poor sales. Nissan’s response was to soften the Q45’s driver-friendly persona into a softer, more traditional luxury car. The 2006 Q45 looks like a Buick Lucerne (although the Q45 was out first), but that should not be the styling peer of your brand’s flagship. Infiniti should make a performance luxury sedan, something along the lines of a BMW 7-Series, but for less money. Add a long-wheelbase model for overseas markets where the car will be used as a limousine, and it should be a formula for the low-volume success that Infiniti would seek from such a model.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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3 Comments

  1. IMHO, the first Q was a much better car than it’s Japanese competition at the same time, the Lexus LS. But Infiniti couldn’t give those things away, and Lexus really ran away with the sales crwon. They sucked up all the oxygen in the room, and Infinit was left gasping for breath for some time. I have no idea how the last Q compared to the Lexus LS, or the Germans. You just really don’t hear much about it anymore.

  2. besides a large and comfortable, a US flagship sedan could also be used as a limousine with driver? There was the Cadillac Fleetwood 75 series, Crown Imperial then Ghia coachbuilded for Chrysler and Lehmann-Peterson who’s made a couple of Continental limousines for Lincoln.

    Maybe Ghosn have another plan for a flagship sedan and Chrysler could be part of the plan if Renault-Nissan grab Chrysler before VW . Ghosn might use Chrysler as the flagship sedan in the large and comfortable category but it’s only a simple supposition then I pondered.

  3. To tell you the truth, I never liked the Q45. Love the G35 and the G37, but the Q45 is kind of blah-looking.

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