What is it?
First unveiled as a so-called concept at the Detroit motor show back in January, the four-wheel drive performance saloon, which runs a modified engine from no less a car than the mighty Nissan GT-R, is the brain child of former Infiniti president, Johan de Nysschen, now residing at Cadillac.
Originally assembled as a styling model to test public reaction to plans to take Infiniti into the performance arena with a car developed in partnership with Red Bull Racing, the Q50 Eau Rouge has now been progressed into a road going prototype.
Following a debut at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed at the hands of Christian Horner, is now being considered for low volume production, with on-going feasibility studies aiming to place it into UK showrooms by 2016.
Development of the new car’s mechanical package is being overseen by Northants-based Ray Mallock Limited, whose road car department has been commissioned to carry out both early conceptual engineering and testing before an expected green light later this year.
The starting point for the fastest ever production based Infiniti is the standard Q50, although the changes clearly run deep. This is immediately obvious the moment you see the Q50 Eau Rouge up close. Infiniti’s designers have given it an added dose of visual aggression in line with its extended performance potential.
At the front there's a new carbonfibre bumper with added structuring around the grille and an F1 inspired carbonfibre twin plane splitter element, instantly differentiating it from the standard Q50.
The fenders have been beefed up to accommodate the widened tracks and there are extravagant looking sills that incorporate extractor ducts for the front wheelhouses to reduce pressure build up at speed and provide an added cooling effect for the front brakes.
At the rear, there is a new carbonfibre bumper housing a central LED stop light from Red Bull Racing’s RB9 F1 car, as well as two large stainless steel tail pipes. The Eau Rouge also gets a unique boot lid aimed at increasing downforce without the need to resorting to a separate spoiler.
Further aerodynamic developments are in store, according to Infiniti, including an even larger boot lid for greater downforce as well as additional panelling to smooth under-body airflow.
To provide the Q50 Eau Rouge with the necessary firepower to see it challenge the lofty acceleration claims of its keener performance saloon rivals, Infiniti’s engineering brain trust has looked beyond the standard Q50 S’s 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine.
“We considered using a powered up version of the Q50 S engine but after an initial investigation by our engineers decided it didn’t provide the necessary scope to deliver the sort of power and torque we were looking to provide the car,” says Ray Mallock Limited engineer, Tom Snowball.
Taking its place under the bonnet is the highly distinguished twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V6 petrol unit from parent company Nissan’s current GT-R.
Sat on lightly modified mounts and boasting a heavily redesigned inlet manifold and intercooler unit packaged to suit the tighter engine bay dimensions of the Q50, the aluminium and magnesium engine has been tuned with bespoke mapping to endow the Eau Rouge with stout 552bhp and 442lb ft of torque.
The heady reserves are currently sent to all four wheels via a modified version of Infiniti’s six-speed automatic gearbox – if only for lack of any suitable alternative.
Earlier plans to provide the new car with the GT-R’s faster shifting six-speed dual clutch transaxle were ditched due to packaging concerns. Infiniti was keen to ensure the Q50 Eau Rouge retained sufficient accommodation in the rear – something it says would have been heavily compromised had it gone with the dual clutch solution.
To see it cope with the wholesale lift in power and torque, Infiniti has extensively modified the four-wheel-drive system, although it is still very much in an early state of development.
Underneath the skin – a mixture of steel, aluminium and carbon fibre - is a largely unique chassis. Among the myriad changes is a 100mm increase in the width of the front and rear tracks. Combined with a 15mm lowering in ride height up front and 20mm lowering at the rear, the Q50 Eau Rouge a much more planted stance than its standard sibling.
Further changes include special lightweight components, larger anti-roll bars front and rear, firmer spring and dampers, while a set of 20-inch wheels shod with a set of sticky 225/35 profile Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres reside underneath the widened fenders, adding to the assertive appearance.