With the one-two punch of the Lexus LS 400 and Infiniti Q45 in the early '90s, Japanese automakers started taking the fight directly to the established V8-powered German flagships on American roads. Here, we get MotorWeek's take on the latter and probably lesser known of those luxury sedans.

While not so impressive today, the Q45's 4.5-liter V8 with 278 horsepower and 292 pound-feet of torque was pretty good by the contemporary standards. The big sedan was also offered with an optional all-wheel steering system that made the model quite a capable handler. The rear end even stepped out a just little during MotorWeek's slalom.

Unfortunately, styling is very polarizing with these early sedans. Where the early LS looks planted with its big, chunky lines on the outside, the Infiniti is a bit more delicate. The design just doesn't scream about being a flagship sedan. The interior doesn't help sell the car as the top of luxury, either. While MotorWeek likes some of the amenities inside, there are complains about the reused switches from the Nissan Maxima and the extensive use of plastic, rather than wood.

With Infiniti now having its sights on the global premium market and soon entering the compact segment, it's fascinating to see the very roots of the brand.

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