Infiniti revealed its Q50 Eau Rouge concept at this year’s North American International Auto Show. Sharing its name with the infamous corner at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium gives this concept a historic reputation to follow.
The Eau Rouge is swathed in bespoke carbon fiber components, including a menacing front splitter, side sills and a rear end inspired by the Formula One world championship-winning Red Bull RB9. The F1 influence is shown in the concept’s paddle shifters, bumper-mounted brake lights and claims of real aerodynamic downforce. Using the expertise of the reigning four-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel, the Eau Rouge concept brings some of the carbon-fiber beauty of top-level motorsports to road cars.
Although Infiniti played coy on performance figures and production plans, President Johan de Nysschen claims that if the car goes into production, it will produce “over 500 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque.” Those numbers demonstrate Infiniti’s desire to directly compete with the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. The prospective Eau Rouge version would have a V-cylinder engine and forced induction, prompting this hopeful author’s ears to hear the words “four-door GT-R.” Dropping the powertrain from the Nissan supercar into this sleek Infiniti shell would certainly be a bold Japanese answer to the German super-sedans of today.
The stock Q50 is already visually striking, but the Eau Rouge concept is even more heart-pumping. The dark red and bare carbon fiber paint scheme adds to its intimidating stature. Twenty-one-inch forged alloy wheels fill the wheel wells and reduce the Pirelli P Zero tires to concept-car level thinness. Interior modifications include plenty of carbon fiber trimmings, a thicker steering wheel and red accents all around that look damn cool.
The Eau Rouge concept is an important move for Infiniti as a brand. With its plans to compete with premium German offerings, this version matches the visual impact and performance claims of the flagship sedans from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Infiniti has experienced negative sales growth in the last year while other premium brands saw double-digit percentage increases. Whether the Eau Rouge is the answer to Infiniti’s sales difficulties or not, it is certainly a step in the right direction.