Full 2006 Infiniti Q45 Review
What's New for 2006
The Infiniti Q45 heads into 2006 with a new Sport variant. This version of the Q includes an active rear-steer system, a more sport-oriented suspension tune and 19-inch alloy wheels. The active-steer system monitors vehicle speed and steering input and uses motor-driven control to automatically adjust the rear suspension geometry to improve handling performance. Other changes to the Q45 this year include a revised five-speed automatic transmission (wider gear spacing and a downshift rev-matching feature), standard Bluetooth connectivity and the addition of a lane departure warning system to the optional Premium Package.
The Q45 was introduced in 1989, along with the Infiniti nameplate, and was heralded as an alternative to Germany's finest. Indeed, it was a luxury car geared toward the driver, with a promise of performance and driving pleasure over opulence. As sales numbers dwindled over the years, the Q45 was redesigned and battled the Bavarians once again between 1994 and 1997, but with an emphasis on comfort over sporting capability.
For the 2002 model year, Infiniti completely redesigned its flagship with a partial return to its athletic roots. The heart of this full-size luxury sedan is a specially designed 4.5-liter V8 bursting with 340 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque. These kinds of numbers put the Q in good company alongside the offerings from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. A standard adaptive suspension with driver-selectable modes allows owners to tailor the ride for a higher level of body control around corners or maximum comfort on the highway. Although the Q is certainly comfortable for long-distance travel, it's no match for competitors like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Acura RL when the road turns twisty.
The interior of the Q is airy, light and spacious. Furnished with copious amounts of wood, brushed aluminum accents, leather and a simple instrument cluster, Infiniti presents the driver and passengers with an elegant interior. Passenger room is ample throughout. The power-adjustable driver seat never ceases to provide comfort and support, and the power-adjustable tilt/telescoping wheel accommodates various driver postures with ease. Unfortunately, many of the Q's features are controlled by a joystick that is simple in principle but difficult to use in practical situations. If the Q were the only luxury sedan you ever drove, you would never miss a thing. But if owning the best of what's around matters, make sure you drive the competition first.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2006 Infiniti Q45 sedan originally debuted with two trim levels, base and Sport. The base Q, which was discontinued midway through the year, comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, an adaptive suspension with driver-selectable settings, a powerful set of HID headlights, a DVD-based navigation system, a 10-way power driver seat and eight-way power front-passenger seat, front seat heaters, leather upholstery, genuine wood trim, a sunroof, a voice recognition system for various controls, rain-sensing wipers, a rearview backup camera, a 300-watt Bose stereo, an in-dash CD changer and satellite radio. The Sport adds rear active steer, sport suspension and 19-inch alloy wheels. Available only on the base Q45, the Premium Package provides 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled front seats, power-adjustable and heated rear seats, rear air conditioning controls and a power-operated rear-window shade along with manual shades for the side windows. This package also includes a Lane Departure Warning System (LDW), which works to alert the driver to any unintended movement of the vehicle out of a designated traffic lane.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-drive Q45 is powered by a 4.5-liter V8 that produces 340 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque. This power is routed through a five-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode and downshift rev matching.
The Q45 features a myriad of standard safety features, including dual-stage front airbags with seatbelt sensors that help tailor deployment to collision severity. Front-seat occupants get active head restraints and seat-mounted side-impact airbags. Side curtain airbags protect front and rear outboard occupants. Other features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes with BrakeAssist and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and stability control. Every Q45 comes with Infiniti's RearView Monitor, which helps avert parking lot mishaps by projecting the images from a rear-mounted camera to the car's center display screen whenever the transmission is in reverse.
Interior Design and Special Features
Step inside and you're greeted with an exquisite cabin draped in soft leather and wood trim. The electroluminescent gauges are both beautiful to look at and easy to read. Passenger room is ample throughout, and the spectacular Bose stereo fills the cabin with near perfect sound reproduction. High-tech in appearance, the Q's climate and radio controls are needlessly complicated, routed as they are through a joystick-controlled LCD -- good thing voice command comes standard. Trunk capacity (13.7 cubic feet) is a bit meager compared to the competition.
The Q's V8 engine feels strong once it revs up a bit, though it doesn't feel as quick off the line as competitors' V8s. As you'd expect of a large luxury sedan, the ride is delightfully quiet and comfortable on the highway. The active dampening suspension system provides a nice balance between ride comfort and handling ability, but unless you order the Sport trim don't expect the sharp reflexes of an Audi A8 or BMW 7 Series.