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Infiniti’s Eau Rouge drops prototype tag

Red line: Infiniti’s Q50 Eau Rouge is now the subject of a production feasibility study after an assessment of its on-track performance.

Infiniti’s performance-based Q50 enters engineering feasibility study

27 May 2014

INFINITI’S first foray into the luxury performance segment has taken another half step forward, with the brand confirming its 420kW Q50 Eau Rouge had moved from prototype phase to a full-on engineering feasibility study.

The luxury arm of Japanese car-maker Nissan revealed overnight that the shift in focus that brings the Q50 small-size sedan-based BMW M3 rival closer to a production reality comes after track-testing a prototype and identifying where further improvements could be made.

According to Infiniti, on-track dynamic testing took place at the Millbrook Proving Ground, a short distance away from the Infiniti Red Bull Formula One team’s headquarters in Milton Keynes, with defending world champion Sebastian Vettel providing feedback on the car’s development.

“The invaluable feedback of Vettel, the four-time Formula One world champion, will be engineered into the next stages of the prototype’s extensive development program – testing components, packaging and viability,” Infiniti said.

Infiniti said engineers would further refine the prototype’s aerodynamic performance, and develop the rear axle and suspension set ups.

“Computer controlling is not ruled out for the suspension, while initial wind tunnel data has shown that the prototype’s lowered ride height (minus 15–20mm) has benefited under-body airflow,” it said.

“Further bespoke flat surface engineering for the prototype’s underside is also to be evaluated.”

Inrfiniti has previously confirmed that the production version of the Eau Rouge – it is unlikely to keep that name in production form, with Infiniti hinting that it will instead adopt a letter-based performance tag sitting alongside the Q50 badge – will borrow the twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine from the Nissan GT-R beer-budget supercar.

However, outputs under the Infiniti badge are expected to hover around 420kW of power and 600Nm of torque, compared with the GT-R’s default 404kW and 628Nm.

The car-maker has not ruled out the thought of using adaptive dampers that can stiffen up the ride at the flick of a switch – a feature not yet available on the hard-riding GT-R.

Infiniti North America vice-president Michael Bartsch confirmed to GoAuto at last month’s New York motor show that time was running out for the car-maker in terms of committing to the Eau Rouge’s leap from an engineering curiosity to a showroom magnet.

“These sorts of decisions (to commit to a production run for the Eau Rouge) have to be made this fiscal year, I can imagine, so this is not going to drag on,” Mr Bartsch said.

“What I can absolutely, categorically tell you is that this is a project which is very close to (Infiniti chief executive) Johan de Nysschen’s heart, and Johan is not a man who is very used to not getting what he wants.”

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