1990 Infiniti Q45 Q45a V8 petrol from North America


Amazing vehicle - I miss it very much



I purchased this car in Atlanta when nearly new -- back when those weird commercials aired where the car wasn't even shown. As a younger man near my peak in agility and driving-ability, I had actually gone to look at the Nissan-350Z for a serious performance car, but decided I wanted a 4-door with the same kind of performance, if I could find it. The Nissan dealer was also the new Infiniti dealer, and directed me next door where I stumbled upon this attractive, sleek automobile that was being used as a dealer demo vehicle.

The salesman took me for a ride in the new "active" model, and I wrote a check immediately after driving it -- it was amazing! This thing was the closest thing to a 4-door Porsche I'd ever driven!

I had come off of a 1986 Mercedes 500-SEC, but the Q45a drove and handled better than anything I've driven before (or since) except a Porsche, but at a much better price-point, even with the expensive active-option. (Notice, this makes a HUGE difference in handling from either the base or T/touring models.) Plus, it seated four adults in comfort and was nearly as luxurious as the Mercedes.

Other than some minor problems over the years, I racked up more than 70k miles over 8 years and loved this car. I do have to say the dealerships in San Diego, Dallas and Florida (where I lived and moved during that time) deteriorated rapidly in service quality, and even today have generally poor service (opinion derived most recently in Raleigh, where my wife now services her M45).

My number-one biggest complaint, however, is that no matter how many times I have expressed interest in purchasing one of their newer models (i.e., M45 or M56), if only they would return the option for active suspension, they have never brought it back, nor does it look like it will return any time soon!

I was prompted to write this "glowing compliment" of the full-active suspension option after reading a less-than-glowing review written by someone who still drives an active-model, but who CLEARLY does not have it correctly operating. ANYone who is a serious performance driver, and who actually drove one of these back when new, surely still longs for something comparable in production today. As an aggressive driver of Italian heritage, the only car I've found that comes very close is the new Porsche Panamera. (I have not just yet, however, been able to part with the nearly $130k required (with tax) for one.) And options prices for the new Panamera make the active option seem like a bargain!

General Comments:

Anyway, in 1999, as a newlywed, I traded the Q45a in on a much-slower Volvo for my fairly new and pregnant wife, when she arrived home one day completely exhilarated about how quickly it accelerated from 60mph to 120mph when a cop had started to make a u-turn half a mile behind her (presumably to issue her a citation for speeding in a 40mph zone... Obviously, I had several concerns here and wanted her in a safer, slower car immediately!)

So, I have since tried several others, including two Lexus models, but have never found one I liked as much as my Q45a. Today, I alternate between a Chevy Suburban (needed for towing and hauling things), driving my wife's current M45 (which cannot EVEN come close to comparing), an old 560-SEC I picked up about 6 years ago that I still really enjoy driving, and a 1930s Ford for fun. I'm still thinking about that Panamera S, but I plan to wait a little longer until I'm sure it's the only car that can truly replace my Q45a...

In short, if you have a well-maintained Q45-active from the early years (and a good Dealer to keep it running perfectly), it still seems the best bargain around today for THE performance-luxury sedan.

-- Dr. P.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th July, 2010

1990 Infiniti Q45 4.5 V8 from North America


Looks good, BRUTALLY expensive to fix!


Transmission went ($3500 repair). Note also that it went abruptly and without warning - no notice that this was coming.

Immediately after that, the timing chain skipped a tooth (after a broken plastic guide/tensioner), and bent 16 valves (another $3500 repair).

General Comments:

Beautiful car.

Smooth operation.

Nice performance.

Terrific interior.

Magnificent paint.

Great leather in the interior.

Brutally, and I mean BRUTALLY expensive to repair. I ended up paying $7,000 in a month for two major repairs... it absolutely killed my interest in Nissan products (I've since learned that the vast majority of other Nissans, and Infiniti's for that matter, are super reliable. I just bought the first year of a fairly technically advanced car, and there were lots of things to go wrong that hadn't had the benefit of years of tweaking to eliminate weak spots).

I bought this car because it was Rear Wheel Drive, and my brother had been an enthusiastic Nissan fan for years. I figured he'd had good luck with his Nissans, how much success I'd have with a Q45! The car was a pleasure to drive, and looked good on me... it was smooth, quiet and powerful. It looked like brand new inside and out.

It was not really a good fit for me, however, as I like doing my own work on cars (and modifying them for performance / handling). This car was way too sophisticated for me to do it myself, and so I never touched it myself (and I didn't own it too long).

Other than the two major repairs, it never let me down. However, two big repairs killed any love I had for the car. The repairs were completed, and I put it up for sale. I've since owned only Domestic cars, and I've never regretted it.

Would you believe that by far the best car I've owned since then has been a 1994 Chevy Caprice with the legendary LT1 engine. It flat out hauled a$$, was easy to work on, and an absolute pleasure to drive. Major drawback of that car was that everyone figured it was a police car. It had zero class compared to the Q45, but the 'cool' factor alleviated that.

I just sold the Caprice, and now I'm going to replace it with a mid 90's Cadillac Fleetwood with the same LT1. I simply LOVE big REAR WHEEL DRIVE cars with V8 power! The only other car I'm considering (believe it or not - it's totally different from the RWD / V8 formula just described) is the Infiniti G20, only because my brother now has one, and it looks superb, and handles nice. I can see with a few handling tweaks, it could be a terrific driver's car.

Would not recommend the early 90's Q45 at all. I heard the later ones were much better (both for the transmission and for the plastic guide on the timing chain). However, I'd avoid the early 90's ones like the plague! Save yourself some misery and pass on the early 90s cars. I was fortunate that I could take a $7000 hit when the repairs came. That's the same as I paid for the car to begin with! It makes me sick even nearly 10 years later to think of it... Aargh!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th June, 2009

4th Jun 2009, 12:10

My grandmother had a 1991 Q45. For the first five years the car was great, then went the transmission. At a light the car would simply shut of but would recrank as though nothing had happened. In 1997 she traded it and has not looked back at Infiniti since.

4th Jun 2009, 13:28

Good review, I had a Infinity J30 with similar issues. These cars do have solid engines, but everything else around it dies. Even if they use quality parts, the number of complex parts in your Q45 or my J30 start to age and do eventually break. From my experience, its too much cost to maintain a luxury sedan that is 20 years old. Your LT1 car sounds cool.

23rd Sep 2009, 16:06

If you like the original Q45, the '93 is the one to get. The transmission and timing chain problems had been solved by then and, treated right, the '93's won't let you down.

4th Jan 2010, 20:49

Follow up from original post writer: I've now had my 94 Cadillac Fleetwood for 6 months. It has the same LT1 engine as my Caprice, and I've completely rebuilt / modified the suspension for handling... great car! Inexpensive to purchase, parts are inexpensive, and it's got plenty of power. With the suspension mods, it handles like a sportscar! If you like monkeying with cars, a Cadillac Rear Wheel Drive car with LT1 is hard to beat!

4th Mar 2012, 21:44

OK, update from the original poster again... I've since sold the '94 Cadillac Fleetwood, and replaced it with a 2000 Mustang GT... yes, same formula again... RWD with a V8... I can't break away from it. Long live RWD!

The Mustang is fun, but won't be a long term fit for me... I think I'm going to take the big plunge and get a Lexus LS430 next, and a Miata at the same time.

2nd Jun 2013, 18:29

You failed to mention in your review how many miles you purchased the car with and when.

Timing chain guides are a well known issue that you could have learned about by searching the net.

Transmissions typically last about 120,000 miles; some last longer.

These cars are very reliable. Transmissions do not usually fail without warning. After you replaced the transmission and the guides, I would have kept it as the car would have proved to be very reliable from then on.