Nissan’s luxury brand is setting a high bar with the updated Project Black S Prototype

Infiniti is bringing back the Project Black S Prototype with an updated powertrain made up of its 3.0-liter VR30 twin-turbocharged V-6 engine and a unique energy recovery system. The powertrain is one of a number of improvements Infiniti made on the concept, which was first unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The Project Black S Prototype represents what Infiniti describes as the “very top end of electrification in the (Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi) Alliance portfolio. It also acts as a benchmark in the company’s pursuit to electrifying its lineup by 2021.

The Full Story

Infiniti Project Black S Gets Hybrid Powertrain for Paris
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Just so you know, the Infiniti Project Black S Prototype is the same Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400-based concept as the previous one that Infiniti showed at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. It gets a few aesthetic updates like the yellow trim on the intakes, but for the most part, the new prototype is the same model that we saw in Geneva more than a year ago.

That said, there are important changes in the “new” Project Black S Prototype, specifically the concept’s powertrain details.

The first version of the concept specified the powertrain details up to a certain point, referring to it as a combination of Infiniti’s 3.0-liter biturbo V-6 engine that produces 400 horsepower and an electric powertrain that contributes an undisclosed amount of power, giving the concept “more than 500 horsepower” to play with.

The new concept, on the other hand, is more generous on the powertrain details. The same 3.0-liter bi-turbo V-6 unit still sits at the heart of its powertrain, but it’s now joined by a unique energy recovery system that’s made up of three motor generator units, or MGUs. One of these three MGUs is called MGU-K (kinetic), which is in charge of harvesting kinetic energy from braking. The other two units, called the MGU-H (heat), harvests heat energy from exhaust gases. These setups, according to Infiniti, allows the Project Black S Prototype to generate electrical power at all times, whether the car is accelerating (the two MGU-H units) or braking (the MGU-K unit). The output from the V-6 engine and the energy harvested by the motor generator units combine to produce a total output of 563 horsepower, an improved and more specific output number than the one on the previous concept. Infiniti finishes it off by saying that the new concept can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in under four seconds.

Infiniti Project Black S Gets Hybrid Powertrain for Paris
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Like most concepts, the “new” Infiniti Project Black S Prototype is important because of what it represents, and not necessarily what it looks like in physical form.

Infiniti has no plans to produce the concept, but is instead using it to illustrate its “commitment to developing exciting high-performance electrified powertrains, drawing on expertise from across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.”

The Project Black S Prototype is a symbol of what Infiniti plans to do when it starts launching electrified cars from 2021 and beyond. As provocative as the concept looks, I’m afraid there’s nothing more to it than that, at least for the time being.

Further Reading

Infiniti Project Black S Gets Hybrid Powertrain for Paris
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Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti Project Black S.

2017 Infiniti Q60S - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti Q60S.

INFINITI will reveal a new Project Black S prototype in Paris, showcasing how Formula One® dual-hybrid electric powertrain technology can be deployed in a road car, as part of its plan to electrify its portfolio from 2021 onward.

Following the 2017 INFINITI Project Black S design study, the new hybrid electric prototype illustrates the brand’s commitment to develop exciting high-performance electrified powertrains, drawing on expertise from across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

The Project Black S fuses high-performance dual-hybrid technology with INFINITI’s award-winning VR30 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine. Its unique ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) contributes to greater power and torque than the engine upon which it is based. The dual-hybrid powertrain prototype generates 420 kW – equivalent to 563 hp or 571 ps, whereas the conventional VR30 engine produces 298 kW (400 hp / 405 ps). The power to weight ratio is estimated to be 235W/kg, achieving 0-62mph acceleration below four seconds.

The ‘Black S’ designation represents the highest level of performance, dynamic capability, effective aerodynamics and intelligent energy management offered by INFINITI. The prototype is based on the Q60 S sports coupe and has been developed together with the Renault Sport Formula One Team.

Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President at INFINITI, comments: “INFINITI has reached another milestone on its road to electrification. Building on the strength and success of the electric vehicle expertise of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, INFINITI is showing the Project Black S, a high-performance prototype with F1 technology resulting from collaboration within the Alliance.

“The Project Black S represents the very top end of electrification in the Alliance portfolio, and is another example of INFINITI’s entrepreneurial spirit on its journey to electrification from 2021 onward. ’Project Black S’ utilises high power and smart energy management from advanced powertrains, a thrilling dynamic capability on road and track, and a performance-oriented aesthetic. A collaborative venture between INFINITI and the Renault Sport Formula One Team, the Project Black S prototype is a test-bed for new ideas and technologies, demonstrating how our Alliance partnerships could make our ambitious visions a reality,” Krueger added.

Forging a path towards performance-oriented vehicle electrification

Engineered in collaboration between INFINITI and the Renault Sport Formula One Team, and under development specifically for road use, the Project Black S prototype features a world-first dual-hybrid powertrain technology and represents the latest development initiative by INFINITI to electrify its cars.

The prototype’s powertrain employs three motor generator units (MGU). A single MGU-K (‘K’ stands for ‘kinetic’) unit harvests kinetic energy from braking. Uniquely, the engine’s twin electric turbochargers are fitted with two MGU-H (‘H’ for ‘heat’) units, to harvest heat energy from exhaust gases. This enables the powertrain to generate electrical power under both braking and acceleration.

Cross-Alliance collaboration optimises Project Black S aerodynamic efficiency

Project Black S represents the ultimate expression of INFINITI DNA. The development prototype balances the organic, artistic design of the Q60 sports coupe with greater aerodynamic efficiency and high levels of downforce with a functional motorsport-inspired performance aesthetic.

Partnering with the Renault Sport Formula One Team has also given INFINITI access to more specialist development technologies, including advanced digital validation tools for optimising the car’s aerodynamics.

This expertise is no more evident than in the high-tech design of the rear wing, validated by Renault Sport Formula One Team’s aerodynamicists and finished in carbon fibre. The wing has a similar aerodynamic profile to the Renault Sport Formula One Team’s ‘Monza’ wing, which provides a relatively low level of downforce for a Formula One car around one of the faster circuits in the sport’s calendar. For a development vehicle based on a homologated road car, the impact is significant. The digital modelling technology allowed for subtle changes to the shape and proportions of the wing, which now offers a fine-tuned compromise between maximum straight-line stability and high-traction under cornering.

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