Why the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge matters: Nissan's luxury brand is making a strong pitch for credibility—and sales—in the premium sectors of the market, and its new 2014 Infiniti Q50 is supposed to be setting the pace. It's the new entry point to the Infiniti brand, helping to introduce a revamped naming scheme that, in theory, also heralds a revamped lineup. And while the car has had some modest success, leading Infiniti in sales in December and earning a handful of year-end awards for its cutting-edge drive-by-wire system, a high-performance range-topper certainly wouldn't hurt its prospects any.
Which is where the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge could come into play. Launched recently at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the concept vehicle features a restyled, highly aerodynamic appearance inspired by the world of Formula 1 racing, where the brand backs four-time driving champion Sebastian Vettel and the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team. In fact, the name of the vehicle comes from a particularly challenging stretch of Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps racetrack.
"The Eau Rouge corner complex is one of the most challenging and satisfying parts of any circuit in the F1 calendar," explained Vettel, who also happens to be director of Performance for the Infiniti brand. "The speed through it, the initial compression, extreme lateral G-forces and blind apex, give you a big rush. Get it right and it's incredibly rewarding. But it can also catch you out."
Now, the brand has yet to confirm that the 2014 Infiniti Q50 will go into production, but Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, did say that: "Q50 Eau Rouge hints at a design language that we could extend to potential future performance models."
New 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge: What's Under the Hood
With the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge being more of a styling exercise than a road-going prototype, there may be nothing under the car's closed hood in Detroit at all.
But, as indicated by de Nysschen: "If we built this car I would expect it to feature over 500hp and 600lb/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."
New 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge: Styling and Design
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge gets a subtle yet nearly complete exterior makeover as compared to the production model, enabling a wider and more hunkered-down stance that Infiniti's executive design director, Alfonso Albaisa, says "creates a feeling of refined muscularity."
"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," Albaisa continued. "The Q50 Eau Rouge is Infiniti to the power of four; like a bull with its shoulder muscles flexed, a bull in Infiniti clothing."
But the fresh look of the car is about more than just enhanced style; with all exterior pieces except for the front doors and roof-arch pillars massaged for the effort, the concept's carbon-fiber bodywork also creates plenty of downforce. Further, it's accented by a vibrant red finish and matte dark-chrome accents, and the same palette is used inside the Eau Rouge's driver-focused cockpit.
New 2014 Infiniti Eau Rouge: What Autobytel Thinks
A cutting-edge, 500-hp sports sedan would look awfully nice in dealerships and could allow Infiniti to better capitalize on its Formula 1 racing pedigree. But a word of warning to Infiniti's marketing mavens: As folks may find out if they Google "define Eau Rouge," the lurid lexicographers at UrbanDictionary.com have noted a none-too-nice alternative meaning for the term.
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