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Detroit show: Infiniti flexes muscle with hi-po Q50

Eau yeah: If confirmed for production, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge would do battle with Mercedes' AMG, BMW's M division and Lexus' F performance flagship.

Infiniti looks to outperform rivals with Q50 Eau Rouge producing 370kW/800Nm-plus

Infiniti logo14 Jan 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

INFINITI has taken the covers off its Formula One-inspired Q50 Eau Rouge concept at the Detroit motor show this week, demonstrating its intention to build high-performance muscle-cars that look set to outperform rivals from Mercedes-AMG, BMW’s M division and Lexus’ flagship F range.

While teaser images released late last year highlighted the Eau Rouge sports sedan’s links to the Red Bull Racing F1 team, the all-important performance details were missing.

Specific powertrain details are still off the table, however Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen has made it clear that he expects it to produce more than 500hp (373kW) and 600lb/ft (813Nm) of torque, throwing it right at the pinnacle of its class.

“If we built this car, I would expect it to feature over 500hp and 600lb/ft of torque,” Mr de Nysschen said at the Q50 Eau Rouge’s unveiling this week.

“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.”

The forthcoming new BMW M3 due in the second quarter of this year produces 317kW/550Nm from its new 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, while Mercedes – which, significantly, already has a powertrain deal in place with Infiniti – is still to show its hand for its new-generation C63 AMG.

The current swansong Edition 507 for the C63 uses a 6.3-litre V8 good for 373kW/610Nm, although the latest CLS63 AMG emerged last year with a 5.5-litre twin-turbo bent-eight that produces a massive 430kW and Infiniti’s targeted 800Nm.

At Lexus, a new-generation IS F is still in the works but the RC F coupe unveiled in Detroit this week is an obvious marker with its 5.0-litre V8 producing “well above” 330kW.

As a further reference point, Infiniti parent Nissan’s GT-R supercar uses a 404kW/628Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6.

Mr de Nysschen confirmed that this engineering work will not be restricted to the Q50, its volume-selling prestige mid-size sedan range that replaces the previous G series and reaches Australia in mainstream form next month priced from $51,900 plus on-road costs.

“Performance is a key ingredient of Infiniti vehicles such as the Q50 sports sedan,” he said. “Involvement in Formula One provides inspiration and excellence to our designers and engineers.

“Q50 Eau Rouge provides not only a glimpse of the design language, but also the performance capability of a future special series.”

Featuring bespoke aerodynamic carbon-fibre bodywork, the Eau Rouge is lower and wider than the regular Q50, “possessing genuine road presence” that Infiniti says is “inspired by muscularity, aerodynamics, refinement and understated power”.

The only carryover exterior panels from the production car are the front doors and arch of the roof pillars.

New front and rear fenders broaden the Q50’s stance by 20mm and a larger bootlid spoiler is specifically designed to create downforce.

Lightweight 21-inch forged alloy wheels fill the wider wheelarches, while the bonnet bulge is double air-vented “as a further suggestion of the capability and purpose” of the vehicle.

Infiniti’s executive design director Alfonso Albaisa said the company’s “shared passion for performance with Infiniti Red Bull Racing grew a collective desire to produce an ambitious and powerful Infiniti Q50 design study”.

“The overall design creates a feeling of refined muscularity,” Mr Albaisa said.

“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 RB9 racecar. The rear foglight packaging is unmistakably Formula One.

“The Q50 Eau Rouge is a combination of the seductive lines of the Q50 but with a fiercer design urge in keeping with a high-performance vehicle.

“The Q50 Eau Rouge is Infiniti to the power of four like a bull with its shoulder muscles flexed, a bull in Infiniti clothing.”

Cabin features include a high-grip sports steering wheel with Formula One-style paddle-shifters, and red-infused carbon-fibre detailing on the doors and centre console that complement the exterior style.

As per the exterior, dark chrome replaces silver chrome in the cockpit to underscore the Eau Rouge’s aggressive demeanour.

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