January 13, 2014
Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge portends seriously powerful future sports sedan
Eau Rouge is a notoriously difficult turn at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps Circuit that is capable of striking fear into the hearts of the most hardened driver. Naming a car after something so terrifying, therefore, strikes us as a rather poor idea.
But Infiniti has done just that, capitalizing on the sponsorship link it maintains with the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, and launching a new concept at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show based on the new Q50 sedan. It's called the Q50 Eau Rouge and Infiniti claims it's "infused with the enticing spirit of Formula One."
While this Q50 might have as much to do with F1 as this website does with the life and times of Paris Hilton, there's little arguing that the Eau Rouge presents a very interesting concept - a high-performance Infiniti. The brand's efforts in this realm have been limited to the Infiniti Performance Line, which was featured on the old G37 Coupe. With the Q50 Eau Rouge, the brand looks to (finally) be aiming for the BMW Ms, Mercedes-Benz AMGs and Cadillac Vs of the world.
"If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque," said Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti. "The engine we are evaluating for the Q50 Eau Rouge is a big personality, V-cylinder engine with forced induction."
It certainly looks the part of a 500-hp sports sedan. The carbon-fiber body gives the Q50 a business-like look. According to Infiniti, only the front doors and the roof arch are carryovers from the standard sedan, with all the other parts getting crafted specifically for this concept. New front and rear fenders widen the car's stance, while exposed carbon fiber in the front and rear fascias add to the visual impact. The front grille is finished in dark chrome, while a set of hood vents certainly help the menacing front end. 21-inch forged wheels round out the sportier package.
"The design has a number of distinctive Formula One inspired touches. In particular, the sculpted front wing assembly and the rear aerodynamic packaging take their cues from the [Red Bull] RB9 race car. The rear fog light packaging is unmistakably Formula One," said Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's executive design director.
The cabin, meanwhile, gets a similar stylistic treatment. A new, two-tone steering wheel and restyled seats contrast nicely with the red carbon fiber (it doesn't look nearly as tacky as it sounds).
The Q50 Eau Rouge presents an interesting concept, and one that we're hoping Infiniti manages to pull off. With Lexus pushing forward with its F range of performance cars and new BMW Ms and Mercedes AMGs arriving on an alarmingly regular basis, high-performance offerings are an absolute must of the Japanese brand that wants to play with the big boys.
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