Infiniti used the Detroit Auto Show to unveil a competition-inspired one-off that reflects its ever-broadening corporate involvement with World Champion Formula One team Red Bull Racing. Based on the automaker's mid-size sport luxury sedan, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept was presented as a legitimate exercise in possibility thinking -- albeit one that raised as many questions as it answered.
Although Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, made no promises as to the imminent arrival of a volume-build variant in showrooms, he did offer some intriguingly optimistic observations. "If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. 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." He then went on to add: "The Q50 Eau Rouge provides not only a glimpse of the design language, but also the performance capability of a future special series."
Visually, the Eau Rouge Concept adds a new dimension of overt boldness to the basic Q50, mixing aggressive cues with a selection of understated but effective aerodynamic enhancements that Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's Executive Design Director, said were chosen to give the car a feeling of "refined muscularity." While it retains much of the Q50 character, the Eau Rouge Concept is lower and nearly an inch wider. Although it might not appear at first glance, Albaisa further points out that the front doors and roof pillar arches are all that remain of the production car.
Like today's most sophisticated competition machines, nearly all of the Eau Rouge's bespoke body panels are made from lightweight carbon-fiber composite. The greatest Red Bull Racing influence can be seen in its unique nose and tail treatments, most directly in the sculpting of its front splitter and the rear aerodynamic packaging, including the aft fog light configuration. To give it even more visual presence, the Infiniti finished the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept in custom red clear-coat paint set off with dark chrome, black and raw carbon accents. It rides on unique 21-inch lightweight forged alloy wheels and stops courtesy of Brembo high-performance brakes.
The cabin treatment of the Eau Rouge Concept displays the same kind of competition flair as its exterior, bolstering the basic Q50 controls with a pair of highly supportive sport buckets up front as well as a high-grip sport steering wheel fitted with the obligatory shifter paddles. The primary accent trim in this exhilarating Infiniti is red-infused carbon fiber and here, too, dark chrome replaces the normal polished brightwork to add a bit more focused edge to the presentation.
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