The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge bears a name that Formula One fans will no doubt associate with some of the greatest racing in the sport. But does Infiniti’s hotted-up Q50 deserve to wear the name? As yet, our answer is no--it’s just a concept car with no real powertrain. But, if Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen’s vision is carried out, the answer would be a resounding YES.
Why is that? Because underneath all of the aerodynamic and styling dress-up work, de Nysschen thinks this Q50 should pack some serious power--and he says it’s technically feasible for Infiniti to do it.
"If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Through our various alliance partners we have access to a range of engines featuring this performance capability which, with a fair amount of engineering effort, can be developed to exhibit Infiniti character and accommodated within the Q50 engine bay. The engine we are evaluating for the Q50 Eau Rouge is a big personality, V-cylinder engine with forced induction. I think our engineers have been waiting for a project like this,” said de Nysschen in the official release.
That, Mr. de Nysschen, sounds like a great idea.
Barring the brand’s undertaking that task, however, the Q50 Eau Rouge still has some interesting features: nearly every body panel has been changed—only the front doors and the roof pillar arches have been retained from the production car. The rest of the vehicle has been built with higher-performance aims, including increased downforce and a much meaner look than the standard Q50.
Dark matte chrome, carbon fiber, and numerous flares and frills adorn the exterior. Inside each wheel arch sits a 21-inch forged alloy wheel. Infiniti claims the Red Bull Racing RB9 as part of the design inspiration; executive design director Alfonso Albaisa notes that “the sculpted front wing assembly and the rear aerodynamic packaging take their cues from the RB9 race car. The rear fog light packaging is unmistakably Formula One.”
Inside the cabin, the Q50 Eau Rouge continues the performance-inspired theme, with F1-style paddle shifters, a high-grip steering wheel, and more carbon fiber (including some in red carbon) trim.
But will Infiniti build the Q50 Eau Rouge? As yet, it doesn’t look like it--but it does shine a light on Infiniti’s plans for a “future powerful product line,” and a “glimpse of Infiniti’s design prowess for high-performance vehicles.” Whether that will translate into something like BMW’s M Division or Mercedes-AMG, or whether it will boil down to a more aggressive spread of the NISMO-like Infiniti Performance Line (IPL) vehicles--or like Lexus' mostly appearance-only F Sport equipment range--remains to be seen.
Stay tuned for live photos and more from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.