When Infiniti rolled out its Q50 Eau Rouge concept car at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year it suggested a bold and audacious new strategy by a brand that was long little more than an afterthought in the global luxury car market. But the prototype left plenty of questions unanswered – notably including what might power a production version of the high-line muscle car?
We’ve gotten our answer with the debut of the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge 2.0 at the Geneva Motor Show. Under that deep red sheet metal, the beating heart of the concept vehicle is a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 punching out 560 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of wheel-spinning torque.
“Building on the extremely positive feedback on the Q50 Eau Rouge at its recent Detroit Auto Show launch, we decided to further whet the appetite of performance sports sedan fans by engineering this powerful heart into our blood-red beast,” said Johan de Nysschen, the president and CEO of Nissan’s luxury brand.
The debut of the updated Eau Rouge suggests that Infiniti is quite serious about launching a performance sub-brand designed to go head-to-head with the likes of BMW’s vaunted M, the notorious Mercedes-Benz AMG and the growing V-Series line from Cadillac.
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While it’s not clear whether the Eau Rouge name will survive, de Nysschen told TheDetroitBureau.com during a Detroit interview in January that it is critical for Infiniti to add a line of performance models if it wants to be taken seriously by luxury buyers.
The twin-turbo V-6 in the updated Q50 concept is paired with a 7-speed gearbox and sends power to all four wheels with a normal 50/50 torque split. The maker claims it can launch the show car from 0 to 60 in “less than four seconds,” with a rated top speed “close to 170 mph.”
But the Infiniti CEO also cautions that the powertrain package is “an example of what a potential powertrain for the Q50 Eau Rouge may look and sound like.” In other words, it’s far from certain not only if a Q50 Eau Rouge will come to market, but also what the final choice for a drivetrain would be.
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As TheDetroitBureau.com earlier reported, the good news for Infiniti is that it has a lot of options. There are plenty of engines in the Nissan family, perhaps even the V-6 used in the GT-R supercar, though de Nysschen cautioned that it would require a lot of engineering effort to stuff it under the Q50’s hood.
There’s also the possibility of tapping Daimler AG — the parent of Mercedes and its high-performance AMG arm – which now has formed an extensive alliance with Nissan. In fact, several future Infiniti models will use the small luxury car platform developed for the new Mercedes CLA and GLA models.
“We discuss all sorts of technology cooperation projects with Daimler,” de Nysschen noted in January. But whatever powertrain the Japanese maker ultimately settles on – and wherever it’s sourced – he promised it will make “an avalanche of eyeball distorting torque.”
While some show cars undergo significant revisions from event to event, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept 2.0 retains the luscious paint job that made it an eye-grabber in Detroit. Among other things, it also maintains the carbon-fiber aero enhancements – including the front splitter, rear diffuser and side sill skirts, as well as the roof and door mirror casings – along with the 21-inch lightweight forged alloy wheels and a dual-exit exhaust sports system mounted below the show car’s integrated rear spoiler.
Don’t be surprised to hear still more about Infiniti’s performance plans later in the year.
In the meantime, the maker also brings to Geneva a new version of the Q50 featuring a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four. Making 211 horsepower, the rear-drive sedan will debut in China this coming spring, with Europe to follow by autumn. Other markets, including the U.S., will get the new version next year.