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Infiniti at 30: The glorious beginning, ignominious present, and hopeful future

Thirty years ago today, on November 8, 1989, the Infiniti Motor Company began selling the Q45 sedan at U.S. dealerships. It was a very promising start for Nissan’s new luxury division, which launched at essentially the same time as Toyota’s Lexus. The two Japanese automakers hit the luxury-car establishment in its collective solar plexus, and nothing about luxury cars and how they are sold and serviced would ever be the same. Traditional purveyors of automotive luxury, performance, and prestige, led by the arrogant Mercedes-Benz, were initially dismissive of the upstarts from the Far East. The Lexus LS400, in particular, and the Q45 soon proved that the Japanese were very capable of competing in this arena—at prices that undercut the Germans by tens of thousands of dollars.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/11/08/infiniti-at-30-beginning-present-and-hopeful-future

I am on my third Infiniti, a 2019 Q50 sedan. Previously I owned a 2012 G37 which I traded in for the Q, and a 2006 G35 which I still keep as a work beater with 115k on the clock. It hasn’t given me any trouble and is worth more than the $5,500 book value to me as an “expendable” vehicle. I’ll drive it until it dies.

Back to the Q50, I am planning on doing performance upgrades to it: coil over suspension lowering, larger 20" wheels, cold air intake and ECU, cat-back exhaust, and rear defuser. The mods will bring that car’s 300hp to closer to 400. The same mods for the Red Sport ups the power from 400hp to closer to 500. All for a few thousand.

I didn’t manage to work into my piece that Infiniti let us drive Q50 sedans and Q60 coupes, both RWD and AWD, on a handling course at Spaceport America. Professional racing instructors riding shotgun. On both pavement and, hilariously, dirt. The cars were great. Sliding, roostertails of mud and dirt everywhere. Illuminating to experience the differences in controlling slides between the RWD and AWD cars. A reminder that Infiniti still has amazing core competencies. And, as you note, their cars are historically very reliable. Thanks for writing. --Joe DeMatio

So, three out of five new Infinitis are “crossovers”.
SUVs have definitely taken over.

BTW, Acura was there first in the Japanese luxury market.
I had a first-year Legend, (great car,) and now drive a first-year Lexus SC400.