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Infiniti design still influenced by its very first sedan

The Q45 helped launch this brand, and it is still guiding Infiniti today.

Infiniti Design
Even though they're separated by three decades, philosophically, these two cars have a lot in common.
Craig Cole/Infiniti

The Infiniti brand is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. So much has changed in the automotive world over the last three decades; however, this company's design philosophy is still guided by the same principles.

Nissan's luxury division was introduced to the world on Jan. 11, 1989 when two brand-new cars were unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The famed Q45 sedan was Infiniti's flagship product, taking a bow alongside the equally fresh-faced M30 coupe.

What started in secret four years earlier had finally come to fruition. A top-secret committee called Horizon Task Force was formed in 1985 with the goal of determining whether it was feasible to introduce a new luxury automotive brand. Out of this research, Infiniti was born, the name playfully spelled with an "i" at the end rather than a "y." Jeff Pope, group vice president of Infiniti Americas, explained at an event last week, this was done for better symmetry.

At its introduction, the Q45 was quite revolutionary. It featured a 4.5-liter V8 engine that delivered 278 horsepower. The sedan also boasted of an active suspension system, one-touch power windows, keyless entry and a Bose sound system. We take these features for granted today, but they were quite revolutionary at the time.

Infiniti's Q45 sedan was revealed to the world at the North American International Auto Show in 1989.

Craig Cole/Infiniti

All this technology was wrapped in an elegant package. Taisuke Nakamura, senior design director at Infiniti, described the Q45 as minimalist, simple and serene, "not over executed." The car was so cleanly styled it didn't even have a traditional radiator grille. Instead, it featured a smooth, aerodynamic front end, to which the automaker's new logo was prominently affixed. Matching the brand's name, that emblem's shape was designed to point off into infinity, just like, as described by Pope, the relationship they hoped to have with customers.

The original Q45 introduced the world this brand and what it stands for. "I think its modernity is very much representing what we are trying to prioritize [today]," said Nakamura. "Currently, Infiniti design is about, we say 'powerful elegance,'" a theme they started using around the year 2000 when developing the FX crossover.

For 30 years, the Q45 has set the design tone for Infiniti. "I think, philosophically … we try to achieve [that] very high target and that attitude," said Nakamura. "I think we still need to respect [it]."

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