By on July 16, 2021

Late last year I put forth some thoughts about the future direction of Infiniti, largely about how the company was on a downward trajectory. Looking forward, the brand needs a major change in direction – not much has changed since December when I wrote that piece.

But one might then logically ask “Where did the company first lose its way?” I’m going to answer that question right now. Let’s take a little trip to the Before Times, in 1990.

That was the first model year for Infiniti just like it was the first model year for Lexus, but Infiniti started off on the wrong foot. I am of course speaking about the Q45, the grill-free, no-nonsense, no-wood, super-serious, full-size luxury sedan that was the company’s flagship. Where Lexus spent big money and years dreaming up an all-new car for its first U.S. luxury foray, Nissan went the cheap route. It took the upcoming new-generation President (the company’s JDM full-sizer) and then tried to Americanize it. Whereas Lexus made a more reliable Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Infiniti made a more hardcore BMW 7-Series without any of the iconic styling.

Americans wanted wood, ruched leather, a hood ornament, and a reasonably compliant suspension in their large sedans (they hate all that shit today, but whatever). Infiniti got a focus group together and then proceeded to edit the President into a firm-riding car without any wood or ruched leather. No grille, no hood ornament. After Judgment Error Number One was finished, they hired an ad agency to produce commercials for the exciting new Q45, and chose not to show it to customers. That’s right, they assumed that the luxury car buyer concerned with image and prestige would visit their dealer upon seeing an ad with a lake, rocks, and trees and “You can see this at a dealer!” tag line. That didn’t work then, and it wouldn’t work today. It was a terrible idea.

Their other premier offering was the M30 coupe and convertible. Based again on an existing Nissan, the Leopard, Infiniti went cheapo. Lexus spent big time money on the SC 400 and amortized that cost with the now-legendary Supra with which it shared a platform. The Leopard had some wood and leather added eventually (they’re learning!) and debuted as the M30. The Leopard wasn’t a bad car per se, and it had the V6 from the 300ZX. But it was again not what the American customer wanted. It was dated looking, too square, too small, not nice enough inside for the asking price, and half-assed. The SC and Acura Legend trounced it.

Shortly thereafter, Infiniti went after the Lexus ES 300 and the BMW 3-Series with the Nissan Primera-based G20. The Primera was more a world car than the President or Leopard, and more competitive generally. But G20 was a compact sedan with very bland styling, again based on something slightly too small for its American purpose. The ES 300 was larger and more luxurious and had interesting frameless windows. Most importantly, the ES didn’t look like it was a Camry. The G20 looked like a Sentra – which it wasn’t – but people assumed it anyway. People still think that even today in the age of the Internet. The G20 did make it quite a while (another problem) and earned itself a second generation that ran from 1999 to 2002. Infiniti had been around for nine years when the second G20 debuted, and the brand was still was doing badge swap jobs against unique Lexus product.

Don’t worry I didn’t forget the other Nineties flop they had, the midsize J30! Again with 300ZX power, the J30 was a slight rework of an updated Leopard, the Leopard J Ferie sedan. At least the J30 had unique looks, but they came at a price: Space. The midsize exterior of the J was not reflected in its interior, where it had space like a subcompact. The J was smaller than a contemporary Sentra inside because of its aggressive roofline and stubby trunk. The ingredients were there on this one: good engine, rear-drive platform, Poltrona Frau interior. But they misjudged the market again and delivered a car too small and too quirky looking for Americans. The rear end treatment is not dissimilar to a bustle-back Seville, really. And how’d that one go?

This Nineties foundation started Infiniti off in the wrong direction, and the brand really never recovered. There was overcompensation in the opposite direction in the case of the second-gen Q45. It was a mushy, Buick-like car without a unique V8 (and was actually 4.1-liter). Gen-two Q was based on a smaller less prestigious car than the original Q. While Lexus was improving the LS 400 into the LS 430, Infiniti aimed downward and put forth a smaller car with a shorter wheelbase and a smaller engine. But it had lots of ruched leather and wood, at least. Your father might have considered one if he didn’t like the Park Avenue’s styling update in ’97.

The company’s had two or three bright spots along the way, but they’ve never been able to replicate the success or mature it into a second-generation offering. The G35 was a sales success and brought back sporting credibility to Infiniti. Sedan, coupe, convertible, the G35 was the right product at the right time. It used Nissan’s FM platform that carried over into the G37 version, where things started to fall apart. It wasn’t as inspired as the G35, and overall less original. The VQ V6 problem was here too, among others: Each time Nissan made the VQ larger it lost some refinement, sounded more like a paint mixer, and got more thirsty (3.0, 3.5, 3.7, 4.0). G37 became Q50 and Q60, and that 20-year-old FM platform is still in use today. It’s a big problem that Nissan can’t seem to fix.

FM also became the FX35, a stylish and unique crossover way ahead of its time. But then it turned into the FX37 and started looking like a fish. There weren’t enough new ideas there, and people demanded more cargo room out of their midsize two-row SUV circa 2009. They’d be okay with crap cargo room now because that’s marketable as “coupe SUV,” which is bullshit, but it would’ve worked had the FX persisted today.

Image: 1997 Infiniti I30Their third success was the I30 and subsequent I35, reworked Maximas which were different enough to work because the Maxima underneath them was decent enough at the time. Moderately luxurious, reliable, softer, and quieter than Maxima, attainably priced. The I30 especially was a nice car (if boring). The I35 suffered at the hands of cost-cutting in a big way but was still serviceable, and sold well. I35 lived on too long as Infiniti readied the G.

Oh, and there’s more FM: the M35. A larger midsize, M took over for the final Q45 as the only large-ish sedan the brand offered in 2007 (it shared the stage with Q for 2006). It was unrelated to the M45, a rebadged Nissan Gloria circa 2003 that was very enthusiast-approved but flopped with the general public given its looks. A generally successful offering, the M35 was not large enough to compete with full-size offerings from the other luxury brands and went against the E-Class, Lexus GS, and BMW 5-Series. The M had 2003-type styling at introduction in ’06 and maintained it through 2010 when everyone else had long moved forward. It was updated in 2011, again to add fish-like styling elements. It got larger in its rework (still not full-size), and spawned a long-wheelbase L version. It was renamed Q70 in short order but by then nobody cared. Stretched beyond its means, the FM Q70 did not feel well made, had an outdated interior full of 2006 components that were never updated, and was floppy in its handling while being too firm over bumps.

I’ve gone on for a while here and now I’m worn out. In summation, bad foundational product lead to a poor start. The foundational product was bad because Nissan didn’t invest enough in Infiniti the way Toyota did with Lexus and to a lesser extent Honda did with unique product for Acura. The G37 should have been the last FM platform ever, yet Infiniti can’t seem to get away from it. Among their more recent problems, the subsistence on FM is the worst, most important, and most persistent. When are they gonna cut that cord?

[Images: Infiniti]

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56 Comments on “Opinion: Here’s Where Infiniti Lost its Way...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Infiniti first tried to sell buyers on mystique (the Silk Road, anyone?) instead of cars. I will say that my favorite Infiniti is the still the Gloria-based M45. The styling’s not for everyone, but it was a sleeper, a smaller car running the 4.5l V8. I always imagined some Yakuza types driving them.

  • avatar
    gasser

    IMO the trees and rocks campaign was the worst campaign ever. If there ever was going to be any interest in the Q45, showing the car itself, would have helped. I had one friend who had one and liked it. I bought a 1992 LS400 new and while it was comfortable and reliable, it was just too bland.
    I also remember that there was a QX4 suv in the early 2000s that seemed OK to the very few friends who bought one. I have a nephew who bought an M35 new during the last year they were available, motivated mostly by the $10K discount from list price.
    When I saw the short lived M45 in person, I thought it was an over customized Ford Granada from 1976. Infiniti has made the trip from bad to worse, tripping and falling the whole way.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    They could’ve saved the Q45 with a second-year refocus:

    1) A new advertising campaign showing the car extensively to atone for the rocks-rivers-trees ads
    2) Repositioning the car as a pure BMW/Jaguar rival rather than a lesser Mercedes/Lexus alternative – primarily by removing the silencers and making the manual from a 300ZX Turbo optional.
    3) Don’t sell a car with an identical engine configuration in Japan. That would have made it so they didn’t have to blatantly lie about their 325-horsepower engine only making “276” in America.

    This would’ve at least gotten them some attention.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    In 2007, I was shopping for my automotive retirement present to myself. Two of the candidates were a used G35 and a new G37. Both were S model coupes. One of them would replace the first generation RX-7 I had been driving for more than 20 years. There was a real brick road (part of the original Lincoln Highway) near the local Infiniti dealer. It took one pass down it at 50 mph to establish that my old, live axle RX-7 rode better than the 20 years newer G35. The G was a bucking bronco. The G37 handled the bricks much better without being soft. I still have the car. Its replacement will have a high bar to overcome.

    Big, four door, luxury sedans aren’t to my taste. However, I’d take a first generation Q45 over an LS400 any day.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      When I was doing a lot more travelling and had an excellent arrangement with Hertz, I was frequently getting G35s and then G37s. 100% agree with what you said about the G35. It was a lot of power and design, but some of the polish and finesse just wasn’t there. The suspension did crash over everything and given the somewhat flimsy and hollow plastics inside, there were already premature squeaks and rattles. But for the price, you couldn’t beat the smiles per mile. The revised G35 and then the G37 was steady improvement there.

      And I really liked the interior of that first gen Q45. Lexus had the cool glowing 3D gauges, but I liked the look of the Infiniti’s better.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The non-S G37 rides pretty good, its firm like a European car. My wife has driven one for a few years now. However its mainly let down by an average interior. Used its a bargain, new? …no so much as the Infiniti badge can’t justify the payments.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    While I don’t discount that the initial ad campaign hurt Infiniti, I don’t think it was a total disaster. It had people talking about the cars and wondering about them well before the Internet became a thing and that had to generate some kind of word of mouth. But there are four things that I think doomed Infiniti from the start, and it wasn’t the initial Q45.

    1. The M30. It looked and drove like a mid-80’s Nissan design. At the same time this came out, there was the redone Maxima one car dealer over that looked and drove a whole lot better. The M30 was just there to hold a place “because Lexus had one…” But the ES had its bones on the stellar Camry, not some ancient Nissan.

    2. The second-gen Q45. When was the last time anyone saw one of these on the roads – 2003? Earlier? They just kind of vanished. Awkward styling, downgraded engine, downgraded interior, everything was kind of phoned in during Nissan’s early descent into the dark times. Lexus had the stellar second-gen LS430 that built on what already worked. Nissan/Infiniti just kind of chucked this into the trash.

    3. No answer to the Lexus SC-series. I remember the vast amount of excellent press that the SC got. And it was earned. They sweat every little detail and hit one out of the park. And Infiniti had no answer. Maybe the J30, but it wasn’t a luxury sport coupe back in the day when those sold. Starting in 1992-3, it was already obvious that Lexus was going to take Infiniti behind the woodshed.

    4. Obvious and pointless badge jobs. …and when all else fails, pull a GM/Ford/Chrysler and slap a luxury badge on a lesser vehicle, put some extra wood and the upgraded stereo in it, charge $10,000 more, and pray for buyers that are willing to look beyond what is an obvious and cheap cash grab. Very little hurts brand reputation than buyers realizing that they are driving what is essentially a cheaper car that they paid a lot more for.

    I realize now that I can probably add 10 more points, but that’s all I want to type. I liked Infiniti. I thought they had a good thing going around 14 or so years ago when the G and FX were something special. But it wilted on the vine and there’s nothing left. I do wish Nissan would just pull the plug and focus their energy on the Nissan brand, fix the Maxima, fix some quality and reputation issues, and come back strong instead of pumping time, energy, and money into a lost battle.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    at the local auto square, the biggest and fanciest dealership was located on 166th and studebaker. lexus took over that location when the brand that HAD been there started slipping and could no longer move the metal. that dealership? hyundai, with people burned out/burned over the excel. took nearly 20 years for them to recover.

    i think infinitis were sold at the nissan dealer. no special separate nice place.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    @Corey Lewis,

    This type of incisive, timely, positive and prescriptive Monday-morning quarterbacking is highly sought-after at automotive OEM’s [ask me how I know].

    Don’t be surprised if you are contacted by one or more automotive manufacturers over the coming weeks with an offer of a *very* responsible position.

    To clarify, do you prefer to start in product planning, or go straight to executive management?

    (You might want to edit the scatological references out of your résumé.)

  • avatar
    tyrade

    This was a fantastic retrospective analysis. I’d love to see more articles of this type—the rise and fall of certain brands or models traced to strategic missteps, or deep dives on controversial models and how they made iit to market. Arguably, Acura has an ebb of about 20 years of missteps as it found its way back to Precision Crafted Performance.

    • 0 avatar

      Definitely could do one on Acura as well. Similar faults as seen here, but more conservative in the Honda tradition.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        but Acura was an outrageous success

        the Legend was the best-selling luxury import about until they went RL

        the Integra was best in class too

        and the NSX became a legend

        and for years the MD-X led its class – and now does again

        Acura went stupid w/ dropping the Legend name and was hurt by refusing to put a V8 in the large cars – people think they needed them and now we know they don’t

        listen to Scotty Kilmer, Nissans are not something to buy, just rent

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Don’t forget that stupid plenum grille. I thought the TL was a great looking sedan, and then the redesign and the adopting of that grille killed the Acura momentum for a good 3-4 years until they finally admitted they screwed up and softened or eliminated it. The executive who green lit that should have been taken out behind the shed.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The G35/37 are still very popular hereabouts with the crowd that would like to pimp out a 350Z but can’t afford one. The 350Z never lost it’s cachet but the G did, making the coupe cheaper than the “sports car”.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    I’m strangely attracted to the 2003/2004 M45’s weird styling.

  • avatar
    SDW

    I actually owned an M30 that I absolutely loved and kept for 15 years until I donated it to charity. I always wanted the convertible version but it was too pricey for me back then. I see one every now and then and it still turns my head. I was told that a lot of Doctors bought the convertibles and only drove them on weekends, which is why you can still find them for sale sometimes with low miles.

    I also leased a QX4 SUV for a few years, and still regret that I didn’t outright purchase it at the end of the lease. It was very nice and plush inside, comfortable , 27 inch wheels, good gas mileage for an SUV and had the smoothest ride and best stereo sound system at the time. It always drew attention and comments from men wherever I went especially since I’m a woman .

  • avatar
    jmo2

    This is a classic case of you have to spend money to make money. IIRC Toyota initially lost thousands on each LS 400 they sold. But it was part of a long term plan to build a luxury car maker. Nissan wasn’t willing to spend the money.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think you’re wrong, Corey – you’re focusing on sedans and stuff for the “enthusiast buyer”, and yes, they blundered with all that stuff. So did Lexus, though – their only consistenly good-selling sedan is the ES. The LS has faded to obscurity, the GS never sold well, and they’re letting the IS get way too old. But I think that misses the point – starting around 2000, the lux segment ceased being about sedans – it was about SUVs and CUVs. And Infiniti absolutely dropped the ball on those.

    Here’s the day Infiniti died: day they looked at the Lexus RX and Acura MDX – both big sellers from day one – and said, “nah, we’re not making FWD-based crossover mommy-mobiles. Have a FX35 instead, and don’t mind that the kids don’t fit very well in the back seat, or that there isn’t much cargo room.”

    It’s hard to overstate how unbelievably stupid that was. It’s not like Nissan couldn’t fluff up a FWD compact and make it a crossover – they just didn’t feel like it. They just watched Lexus and Acura print money and kept trying to sell the FX35. They even made a RX-type vehicle for Nissan – the Murano – but not for Infiniti. Why? Beats me. Infiniti watched Lexus and Acura print money with their mommymobile CUVs for 13 years before they finally brought one out – the QX60.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    In fact, I’ll go further and say the LS isn’t what “made” Lexus – the RX did. And there’s no argument about how important the mommy-crossovers were to Acura – without the MDX and RDX, they’d have been history years ago.

    Just unbelievably bad…if they’d brought out a competitive RX/MDX fighter in the early 2000s, the story there might be very, very different.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Some counterpoints:

      0. You are too early the CUV shift in the premium market. While premium CUVs existed before, the primary shift to utility vehicles was something that happened post Great Recession. If we want to get psychological one could argue the impact of the GR was a major accelerator of that.

      1. Combining with my point above, I think you are underselling just how popular the G35 was. From 2003-2009 Infiniti sold nearly 500K G-Series cars. That’s more than the MDX and RDX did *combined* during that period and in fact is better than the MDX or RDX have done over any 7 year period. Their RWD volume didn’t really die until 2014. Partly because the Q50 wasn’t very well received and partly from the the market shift to utility vehicles.

      2. Lexus lives off having a top 3 reliability reputation for the last 30 years. Infiniti doesn’t have that. Without it I don’t think a Murano Brougham would find success beyond what the JX/QX60 has (distantly behind Lexus and Acura). The QX50 is another tarted-up FWD CUV they offer that sells in comparatively embarrassing numbers.

      3. While I agree A Q45 or M35 revival makes no sense in the current market, a lot of automakers have made successful RWD-based premium CUVs I don’t think Infiniti needs to go the cheap route.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @alja:

        The shift was WELL under way in the early 2000s – SUVs/CUVS were a very large chunk of every luxury brand’s sales even by that point.

        In 2001:
        Lexus sold 77,391 RXs and 222,983 total units. Share: 35%
        Acura sold 40,950 MDXs and 170,469 units. Share: 24%

        The entire Infiniti brand sold 71,365 units that year.

        If we’re looking at the less mommy-ish CUVs…
        BMW sold 40,622 X5s and 213,127 total units. Share: 19%
        Mercedes sold 45,655 M-class and 206,718 total units. Share: 22%

        There was no excuse for not seeing this trend coming.

        Yes, the G was a strong seller for many years. So was the BMW 3-series. And as you point out, the sedan market began to die out and move towards CUVs (and I still think the Model 3 slipped the last knife into 3-series sales).

        But the difference was that by the time all this happened in the early 2010s, BMW had a whole line of CUVs in various sizes and capabilities to fall back on. Same was definitely true of Mercedes (probably less so for Lexus). Even Acura had the MDX and RDX, which kept them alive. Meanwhile, what did Infiniti have? A lineup of SUVs/CUVs that were uncompetitive (the QX50, which looked weird and had no room), the QX60 (which was bland and didn’t even show up until 2013), and the QX80 (which was a badge-engineered Nissan Armada).

        That’s why Infiniti’s in the sad, sorry state they’re in right now – they blew it when it came to the whole crossover thing. And given that Nissan has proven itself very good at selling crossovers – they’ve sold millions of Rogues, Pathfinders and Muranos over the years – it makes even less sense.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’m not saying that Infiniti should have completely ignored CUVs, but what I am saying is:

          0. Taking a 2003 Murano, tossing on a different front clip and some sparkle wheels and calling it the GX35 wouldn’t have been any more successful than the rest of the brand’s long line of rebadged duds across all segments.

          1. Their failure in transitioning from the G35/G37 (their most popular product EVER) to the microwaved Q50 did hurt the brand a lot.

          I tend to agree with Corey’s conclusion in that what they needed was an FM platform replacement in 2015 which would have allowed them to offer *both* a better Q50/Q60 as well as BMW X3/X5/X7 or Genesis GV80/GV70 style CUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @ajla:

            But why did they keep the FM platform for too long? Because the brand wasn’t selling enough units to justify a new one. Guess what would have helped that sad situation? A good line of CUVs that people wanted….like a competitor for the RX or MDX.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        > Aja

        You point 1 is SPOT on! But your Number 1 is complete rubbish. Factually wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Factually wrong.”

          I used the sales numbers off wikipedia. I didn’t chase down the references but if they are wrong I can be corrected.

          2003-2009 G-series sales:
          488,6842

          2003-2009 MDX and RDX combined sales (RDX didn’t exist before 2006):
          422,534

          Best 7 years for MDX (2013-2019):
          390,743

          Best 7 years for RDX (2014-2020):
          378,788

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infiniti_G-series_(Q40/Q60)#U.S._sales_by_calendar_year

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_MDX

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_RDX

    • 0 avatar
      Mustangfast

      I think you’re forgetting the Murano and FX were similar sized, but the FX fit with the brand ethos of the time, riding high on the G series and halo effect. They were decent vehicles to have in the Infiniti stable at the time because Infiniti seemed to be going the sporty route vs the Lux route. Also remember until the mallfinder/jx35 debuted the Pathfinder was RWD and rugged purposed, it would have made an awful Infiniti (ship sailed after the QX4 which I still see around). Likewise going the Honda/Acura route didn’t work because they had just discontinued the Quest JV with Ford and released the bloated Quest that would have been too big and too awkward as a crossover. Should they have made a distinct platform? Maybe. But their only brand ethos ever was at that time and it was sporty and “hip” rather than mass market. Infiniti’s fortunes followed Nissans brand perception, which began to crater after CVTs started being released which was around the time their platforms started to age. Now you were being asked to pay more for a dated car without perceived Japanese reliability, something that likely sustains Acura or Lexus even if their models aren’t cutting edge.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m focusing on everything they made in the entire 90s decade. That’s the basis of the problem.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I think it would be more accurate to say that Infiniti never found its way, except for a ten-year run with the G35/37.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    If Infiniti lost its way in the late 90s then isn’t it this simple.

    Nissan would have been bankrupt by US accounting rules in the late 90s.

    Nissan rebounded but has never fully, and never will, fully recover.

  • avatar
    gasser

    To put things into perspective, I live in West Los Angeles, between Bel-Air and Beverly Hills, among several VERY affluent neighborhoods. ALL of the Infiniti dealers in West Los Angeles have gone out of business.

  • avatar

    They are pretty much in the same boat as Cadillac. Both divisions sales have been pretty much identical in the last few years.

  • avatar

    I find grille free Q45 looking cool. But I like aero Crown Vic even more. I like 90s designs in general, even Toyota.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Americans wanted stately and the original Q was anything but.
    It’s unbelievable that one automaker can make so many mistakes and bad calls in the era moving forward, every segment.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Opinion: This story has some basic facts wrong.

    Most centrally, as I’ve posted at least twice on this site before, the whole widely accepted canard about the “rocks, trees” ad is a myth.

    Toyota had sunk billions into making absolutely, positively sure that Lexus could not possibly fail. Nissan, which didn’t have billions being a smaller company than Toyota, had a good large sedan with a big engine. Upon seeing Toyota was about to join Honda in launching a luxury brand in America, they went me-too and rebadged a couple of their cars. This much is true. However, the restyled US-market Q45 wasn’t ready in time to launch when the Lexus LS400 was, nor for months afterward. To have something to run before they had a car to show or sell, Nissan and its ad agency chose the “rocks, trees, Zen” pre-release campaign.

    For all the reasons listed above, Lexus roared out of the gate and never looked back. Because history simplifies around the most obvious factor, it’s the “rocks, trees” ad — and to a lesser extent, the grille — that people remember. But the whole truth is that Toyota had a more thorough, longer-term, better funded effort based on a more intensive effort to ascertain and meet American tastes, from grille to taillights.

    Also, the second-gen Q45 was even more inferior than you remember—contrary to this story’s assertion, it didn’t have wood. It had fake wood. I remember this because a belligerent young rep at an auto show booth threatened to start a fistfight with me when I called him out for lying to me about it. Automotive enthusiasm leads to some moments that one clearly remembers.

    More research and less straw-man flogging next time, please.

    • 0 avatar

      Was the introductory Q45 advertised with standard ads which showed the car? I’ve never seen one even mentioned. I’d love for you to post links to the adverts or cite a source.

      Yes, I said Q45 2 had wood trim. Did not add faux or real descriptor. I see reviews calling it fake, and some calling it real (looks more fake). I also see that in 2000 it became bird’s eye maple.

      Overall both these points don’t add up to straw man flogging, or change the gyst of the article.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      I remember the Infiniti ads when they came out. I thought they were silly and more confusing than informative. Why were they advertising a car brand, a NEW car brand at that, without showing any cars??!! It was an obvious waste of advertising money that accomplished nothing positive at all.
      There is no “myth” there at all.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    One critic (I forget who) said it best (wording approximate): Nissan learned the American public didn’t want a Japanese BNW as much as it wanted an LS400.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Another thing to consider was Nissan pouring money into developing the GTR Skylines and their advanced AWD system of the time. Yet unlike Hondas NSX or Toyotas Supra/SC they didn’t import it as a “halo car” of sorts. We only got the MeToo30 which looked like a dated Corolla.

    “The G20 looked like a Sentra – which it wasn’t – but people assumed it anyway. People still think that even today in the age of the Internet.”

    At the end of the day does it really matter? Im surprised that you didn’t mention how the second generation G20 became heavier, but still used the same Sentra-sourced engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Id drive one of those G20 Tourings with the stick. Sort of a grown up SE-R…But I am a huge fan of the SR20 motor.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I had an early G20T, more or less. My wife’s coworker had a black G20T that she drove for a number of years before giving it to her son when he got his driver’s license. Well the inexperiecne of youth, combined with thin tread, rain and a sharp curve led to a car upside down in the ditch. They drug it home and put it in the garage.

        They replaced with with a G20 which they drove for a while until it developed a miss. The shop they took it to diganosed it as a bad injector. Unfortunately I don’t think they really knew what they were doing and didn’t understand that with the pot style injector when you pull an injector it is like pulling the plug on a bath tub and all the fuel ends up in that cylinder’s intake port. They put the new injector in it and spun it over hydro-locking it and bending the rod in that cylinder.

        She shared that with my wife and we worked out a package deal. The intention was to swap the T’s engine and trans with its recent clutch in the non T car. Unfortunately once I got the T running it smoked like a pig.

        I did run across a wrecked automatic equipped car and picked it up on the cheap.

        So it took 3 cars to make one. The T’s transaxle and appropriate axle shaft the automatic’s good engine went into the good car. I managed to get a lot of money for all the extra parts, more for just the AT than I paid for that car. I drove it for a year and sold it for a profit. I still have the T spec black leather seats as the good body had the tan interior.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Infiniti had a good ten year run with the G35,FX35, M35. I owned the original G35 for 5 years and then a G35X for 7 more years. Acceleration and handling were very good on the G35X and the ride was fair-good and not harsh as some of above comments. Reliability was not as good as one would expect from a Japanese brand and the interior was a step below the Germans. I was hoping to replace my G35X with the Q50 but Infiniti killed the steering with it’s drive by wire system and that was the end of my Infiniti run.

  • avatar
    cantankerous

    I bought a G35 6MT coupe on my sister’s birthday in 2005 that I still own (and occasionally drive) today. I’ll be the first to complain about the flinty ride, but the crappy plastics that adorned the 1st generation (2003-2004) version were largely addressed by the minor interior restyle that was introduced for the 2005 model year. My second biggest complaint was about the maddeningly flat torque curve and the lack of sufficient grunt below 5500 rpm, but that shortfall was largely mitigated by a modified intake manifold — technically, a lower intake manifold collector — that I installed in 2010. And two or three years later I also installed another modification, this time a front suspension camber adjustment kit that allowed the relatively expensive front tires to last more than 20,000 miles before obliterating the inside edge of their tread.

    My G35 was — and remains — the only Infiniti that I found appealing enough to own, although I confess to having admired the original Q45 that debuted long before I would have been able to afford one. But as for the rest of the Infiniti lineup, especially since the introduction of the Q-tagged vehicles, there is nothing there that appeals to me in the least.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I had a last-gen Infiniti G20, absolutely loved the car besides the gutless engine.

    There’s a lot that went wrong, and some not their fault. Infiniti mostly made cars, Americans became repelled by cars and Infiniti had mediocre to bad CUV/SUVs.

    Infiniti dealerships were nowhere near the caliber of service and professionalism that a Lexus dealer was. Infiniti dealers were more like a Dodge dealership with a fancy coffee machine.

    Nissan became a crap car company under Renault, and that trickled down everywhere. Quality used to be competitive with Lexus and Acura, now I would rank Nissan around VW in terms of repairs.

    Just too many screw ups. I actually like some of the models Americans didn’t, like the second gen Q45, first gen M45, and Qx4.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Infiniti continues to spiral downward with its VC-Turbo (variable compression turbo) engine. It looks like a good idea on paper, but driveability is reported to be terrible and fuel economy is poor.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    Infiniti failed, like all other large scale Nissan projects, because Nissan is the Japanese GM.

    Originally a major part of the Ayukawa conglomerate, Nissan was always the car maker with the strongest political ties to the Japanese government. Much more so than that family business ran by loom makers in Aichi. What that meant was Nissan always brought in people with strong political ambitions. (People went from Nissan to politics, and back to Nissan after retirement)

    This is why an Ayukawa relative by the name of Katayama was shipped over to the sure to fail business over in USA by his boss. When this “Mr. K” was actually successful in making Datsun a household name, he was kicked out of the company and the Datsun name killed.

    Skyline/Infiniti G was always a sore point because it was a product line started by Prince Motor Company and ran by people from the former Prince, not Nissan proper. What this meant was every time a Skyline is successful, its engineering budget were cut.

    So a big project like Infiniti? Everyone wanted a cut in the project so a million people giving random input and wanting budget. Anyone not part of the project will try their best to undermine it.

    So the only time it was marginally successful was when Ghosn came in with his iron fist and gave some semblance of control. Of course, until he became more focused on filling his coffers instead of the company, just like all other of his predecessors.

  • avatar
    jrocco001

    I’ve owned two Infinitis (QX56, current QX80 owner) and one Nissan (2012 Maxima) in the last 10 years. IMHO I don’t think their designers actually drive their cars, and both brands have the unique distinction of undercutting themselves.

    The 2010 QX56, despite having an ancient(at the time) 5-speed transmission, is arguably better than the QX80. Why? They decontented the vehicle with the redesign. The QX80 is a huge, tall vehicle. You can’t open the liftgate in most garages without it hitting the ceiling or garage door overhead. The QX56 solved this issue with a rear tailgate window that could be opened so you could reach inside and grab your groceries or whatever (my 2019 Acura RDX is even more creative, in that it allows you to set the amount of travel the liftgate will open, however since that is a small, compact SUV it’s not even an issue). The window is now fixed on the QX80.

    Other things missing from the QX80 that the QX56 had: driver’s armrest, rear cargo area windows that could crack open to allow ventilation, a valet/manual key to start the vehicle (it’s ridiculous that if the CR2020 battery in your key fob dies, you cannot start the vehicle – I learned this the hard way).

    The backup camera is crap (the camera on my 2012 Nissan had higher resolution than the 2018 QX), and the placement of the rear backup lights makes it useless at night as it has zero ability to display anything in the dark, as the lights don’t illuminate anything behind you. They only reason we bought it is because we needed a large SUV for our family that could tow a camper, and there are very few vehicles that check both boxes.

    The Maxima was an OK car, but no better than the Altima, especially in the last generation (the one I owned). The CVT is a mistake, the interior, while more plush than the Altima, is not much larger. Rather than make the Maxima a better car, they removed the V6 from the Altima line to put some space between the two in the current gen.

    This is what bugs me about Nissan/Infiniti: they have failed to invest in their products where it matters. They could likely save a bit of money and make the Maxima/Altima one car (with standard and optional drivetrains if need be) and not worry about poaching from Infiniti with a competitive V6 sedan (the Q cars are still RWD vs FWD). The variable compression engine? Meh – no real world benefits, and they seem to be having issues with refinement and it’s just added complexity. They completely failed to capitalize and innovate the GT-R, which when it came out was a very desirable sports car (and IMHO, still is, but has aged out of the segment).

    I’d really be curious if they had an actual roadmap of where they see their product line in the future.

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