Nissan Gloria / Cedric

Talking about Japanese executive sedans, you may think of Lexus, Infiniti or Honda Legend. Admittedly, these export-biased models were designed with European character instead of the traditional core value of Japanese. To know what is a pure Japanese executive sedan, you must have a look to Nissan Cedric / Gloria or their arch-rival Toyota Crown. For 3 decades, these 2 series dominated the domestic market’s luxury segment as well as Taxi business. They were also very well-known in South East Asia here until we had been educated what handling is.  

One word concludes these cars - Conservative. No matter exterior styling or interior layout, Crown and Cedric / Gloria used to follow Lincoln or Cadillac-style blandness. Super soft ride meant no driver appeal at all, although they had long legs (advanced engines). Now both companies are changing this by injecting more dynamic and younger style into these cars. In particular, I am very pleased with Gloria’s exterior styling. It still has a conservative proportion, but with plenty of aggressive-looking details, such as the New Edge headlamps in the light of Ford. Frameless windows and pseudo hardtop design (that is, looks like lack of B-pillar) also bring more sense of dynamic. Overall speaking, the Gloria is a design that both the Japanese traditionalists and foreigners satisfy with. 

What a pity, the setup of the front MacPherson strut / rear multi-link suspension is biased towards comfort even though in the sportiest model Gloria Ultima Z. Despite of 17-inch low profile tyres, it rides smoothly and quietly, filter bumps well from the cabin. On the other hand, handling suffers. It rolls a lot into corner, protesting against your aggressive driving style by resisting to change direction that quick. So you feel it remains an elephant as it used to be in the past 3 decades. What you can’t feel enough is the steering - it’s lifeless and overassisted at low speed.  

It seems that Gloria was designed for high speed cruising instead. Even without the help from VDC stability control, it is inherently stable at high speed. Speed-sensitive assistance firm up the steering to enhance confidence. It’s a joy to cruise that elephant in highway, thanks to good suppression of wind noise and that refined engine ... 

Yes, jewel of the crown is either the VQ30DET turbocharged V6 or the advanced Extroid CVT transmission. The motoring world is already impressed by Cefiro’s VQ30DE engine, because of smoothness, quietness and willingness (oh yes, it’s been Ward’s 10 best engines for 5 straight years). The turbocharged version loses no such qualities while achieving a fire-breathing 280 hp output. It’s not a high boost turbo, so turbo lag is virtually unperceivable. The punch is so strong that one can easily believed the Gloria Ultima Z is a nightmare to BMW 540i. Of course it isn’t. 

The Extroid CVT is the world’s first CVT using rollers instead of belt or chain as the media for varying transmission ratio. Nissan must be proud of its ability to handle the 285 lbft of torque from the turbo V6, well beating Audi Multitronic’s 221 lbft upper limit. Moreover, the Extroid CVT is really very smooth and quiet, refiner than any existing automatic. On the other hand, to enhance driving fun, it has 6 simulated manual ratios for the driver to select. Changing from one to another is surprisingly quick. The control is more or less the same as Porsche’s Tiptronic, that is, a manual slot with + and - positions is provided at the right hand side of the auto slot. What a pity no Tiptronic S control, unlike Skyline. 

The Gloria is very well built and crafted. The dashboard is made of high quality plastic. Doors are leather-trimmed with good fit and finish. There’s real wood at the console as well. Although the design of dashboard is conservative, two-tone light color scheme brings a present ambience that rarely found in traditional Japanese luxury. The leather chairs are big and comfortable, if not providing sufficient lateral support. With 2800 mm wheelbase, rear passenger comfort is never in doubt. 

All these findings apply to Cedric as well, because it is identical to the Gloria except minor deviations in styling. In these cost-cutting years, the difference between them has become lesser than ever. 

< Cedric 

The above report was last updated on 12 Apr 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Infiniti M45

Take a Lexus GS300 and fit a V8, it becomes a decent performance sedan, namely GS430. Do the same to BMW 5-series and it is even more wonderful. What about Nissan Gloria? no way. You know the domestic-bounded Gloria was designed for conservative luxury rather than driving fun. Nevertheless, Nissan believes there will be a market for a V8-powered Gloria in the United States, thus decided to build the car. Predictably, it is re-branded as Infiniti and gets a new name, M45. 

From the name, you can easily see it adopts the 4.5-litre V8 from Infiniti Q45. That's a strong engine with 340hp on tap. Come together with the engine is a 5-speed Tiptronic-style automatic transmission, taking place of the Extroid CVT which cannot handle the extra torque. The Gloria platform can accept the new drivetrain without much difficulties, because its suspensions are already similar to the Q45. What Nissan need to do is to stiffen the suspensions, upgrade wheels and tyres, and weighting up the steering. Also, they fit the i-Drive-like center console from the Q45. 

The Gloria chassis has an old-fashioned proportion - short wheelbase and long overhangs. That means, although it provides significantly less rear room than the flagship Q45, it is not much shorter and not much lighter - just by 40kg. Nissan has to employ a higher final drive ratio to boost acceleration, but it does not feel much quicker than the Q. Expect it takes 6.4 seconds for 0-60mph. 

We said the Gloria was not designed to be a sport sedan. That's why M45 is not a M5, nor 540i, nor GS430. Nissan knows that, but it still tried its best to stiffen up the suspensions to the extent that it delivers harsh ride quality on bumpy roads, and reduce the steering assistance so that you feel neither relaxing nor involving. M45 does feel sportier than the Q, just because it rides harder, but its body control, steering and traction are still far from world class. And don't forget its bulky appearance. You can't convert a rock into gold. 

The above report was last updated on 7 Oct 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Gloria 3.0
Gloria Ultima Z
Infiniti M45
Front-engined, Rwd
Front-engined, Rwd.
Front-engined, Rwd.
Size (L / W / H / WB) mm
4865 / 1770 / 1440 / 2800
V6, dohc, 4v/cyl,  
V6, dohc, 4v/cyl, turbo.
V8, dohc, 4v/cyl, VVT, 
variable intake.
2987 c.c.
2987 c.c.
4494 c.c.
240 hp
280 hp
340 hp
227 lbft
285 lbft
333 lbft
Extroid CVT with 6M
5 Tip
F: strut / R: multi-link
205/60 R16
215/50 VR17
235/45 WR18
1600 kg
1680 kg
1746 kg
Top speed
0-60 mph
6.1 sec*
0-100 mph
16.0 sec*
* Tested by R&T

Copyright© 1997-2009 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine