When it debuted at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge concept seemed like the perfect recipe. Combining the guts of a Nissan GT-R with the body of Infiniti’s small luxury sedan, the Eau Rouge was a loud answer to the luxury hot rods from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lexus, and Volvo.
Since everything on it was based on production components, it even seemed likely that the Eau Rouge would eventually reach showrooms. And Infiniti paraded a prototype around for some time, although we have now learned that it apparently doesn’t plan to do anything else. The Eau Rouge is dead, Infiniti vice president Francois Goupil de Bouille told Car magazine in an interview at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.
“It was just too costly. That was it,” Bouille said. He noted that the carmaker looked at sales forecasts, and decided putting this admittedly specialized model into production just wasn’t worth the investment.
The Eau Rouge’s main selling point was that it used the 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 from the GT-R, sending 560 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque to the wheels through the Nissan’s sophisticated all-wheel drive system. But none of these components are particularly cheap to build. GT-R engines are hand-assembled in a clean room by dedicated builders who spend years apprenticing for the job.
That may be fine in a $100,000, limited-production supercar, but adding volume by introducing a second model could have complicated things. Mercedes-Benz has managed to massively increase the output of its hand-built AMG engines, but that’s not necessarily a trick that makes sense for every carmaker.
The souring of relations between Infiniti and the Red Bull Racing Formula One team it sponsors could have also dampened enthusiasm for the GT-R-powered Q50. The car is named after a famous corner on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, and Infiniti highlighted the connection with Red Bull in promotions.
But that was when Red Bull was dominating F1. Now the team is struggling, and it’s blaming the hybrid powertrains supplied by Infiniti parent Renault for its lack of success. A split between Infiniti and Red Bull seems likely, making the Q50 Eau Rouge’s F1 connotations problematic for the brand.
While the Eau Rouge may be dead, Infiniti may still build a sportier Q50. VP Bouille said Infiniti is mulling a performance sub-brand in the vein of AMG or BMW M, and that everything from a high-performance diesel to stripped-down lightweights is under consideration.
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