The numbers were obtained “under very exacting conditions,” say Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. officials, following the enthusiast press' raised eyebrows regarding the company's aggressive (and widely promoted) 5.9-second 0-to-60 mph acceleration claim for the all-new 2002 Infiniti Q45 flagship (see WAW — April '01, p.55).

WAW sister publication, Ward's Engine & Vehicle Technology Update (WEVTU), began its own “investigation” after several enthusiast magazines' hard-core testers — who typically outdo auto companies' “official” performance numbers — reported they couldn't come close to replicating Infiniti's 5.9-second figure. Some testers were “off” by more than a second, the equivalent of an eternity in 0-to-60 boasts.

WEVTU put two Q45s on a dynamometer to ensure their engines were producing their claimed 340 hp and 333 lb.-ft. (451 Nm) of torque. Both did.

Nissan officials decided it was time for some elucidation: Q45s tested in Japan were certified at the 5.9-second figure, says Randy Fior, corporate manager, product planning, in Infiniti's Product and Market Strategy Office.

But those cars were tested in optimum atmospheric conditions, admits Mr. Fior. Also, the lightest possible base cars — along with featherweight drivers — were used. And Mr. Fior admits that most of the Q45s given to the press for testing were more lavishly equipped models that weighed as much as several hundred pounds more. Finally, the new Q's smoothness-biased driveline limits testers' ability to “launch” the car aggressively.

With performance constituting a huge part of Nissan/Infiniti's recrafted brand image — and with the critical launch of an all-new “Z” high-performance coupe just months away — Nissan clearly doesn't want to get sideways with the buff-book crowd, which prides itself on beating manufacturers' performance claims.

“We dug this hole,” admits one Nissan source, who says the company will be much more careful about future performance claims.