Launched in 1989 as an answer to marques like Toyota's Lexus and Honda's Acura, Infiniti stands as Nissan's luxury division.
Although Infiniti's current model range includes several different cars, crossovers and SUVs, the brand launched in 1989 with just a single model - the Q45. Intended to compete with other flagship sedans like the Lexus LS, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Q45 strayed from the pack by offering...
unique styling and truly sporting driving dynamics. The original Q45 was powered by a good-for-the-day 278 horsepower 4.5L V8, allowing for a 0-60 sprint in just 6.7 seconds. The Q45 was a competent handler, too, thanks to a multi-link suspension and available four-wheel steering.
Infiniti followed the Q45 with the M30 coupe and convertible in 1990, the entry-level G20 in 1991 and the mid-size J30 in 1992, but sales continued to lag behind rivals Lexus and Acura. Infiniti managed to regain some of its initial momentum with the 1997 launch of the QX4 SUV - heralded as one of the pioneers of the mid-size luxury SUV segment - but the company didn't truly solidify its standing among the premium ranks until the 2003 launch of the G35 coupe and sedan.
Thanks to its rear-wheel drive platform and powerful V6 engine, the G35 represented the first substantial threat to BMW's well-established 3-Series. Although not as refined as the 3, the G35 offered good looks and blistering performance - not to mention a discounted price tag - making it a popular option among entry-level luxury shoppers.
Hoping to expand its appeal by courting traditional luxury buyers as well as enthusiasts, Infiniti recently renamed its entire model lineup around the "Q" prefix - a tribute to the Q45 - and began introducing more mainstream-focused models like the QX60 three-row crossover.
Infiniti has also made cutting-edge technology a point of emphasis, launching an industry-first steer-by-wire system in the G-replacing Q50 sedan, and the brand intends to introduce an electric vehicle soon as well.