It’s like a Q60 Coupe on steroids

Infiniti introduced the second-generation Q60 Coupe at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show looking nearly identical to the concept that previewed it the year before. It comes to the market for 2017 with bold and aggressive styling, better efficiency over the outgoing model, and a revised suspension system, among other things. Its revised drivetrain includes two different engines with output ranging from 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque all the way up to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Unfortunately, the Q60 lost the available option of a manual transmission, leaving just a seven-speed automatic to mate with all engine options.

Now, the Geneva Auto Show is kicking off, and Infiniti as decided to participate in a design study of sorts that takes the Q60 Coupe and adds on a more aggressive body kit and a new high-performance, hybrid drivetrain inspired by Formula One. Dubbed the Project Black S, little is known about it, but Infiniti wants to use it as a basis to gauge customer interest in future high-performance Infiniti cars.

Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti, said, "Infiniti is the premium car manufacturer within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and a technical partner to the Renault Sport Formula One Team, so it is natural that we come together to explore the possibility of bringing innovative, high-performance hybrid technology to our customers. Infiniti has constantly led the way in making innovative new powertrain technology available, and we’re extremely excited by the potential of Project Black S."

The Project S is set to be revealed at a special event the night before the doors open at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show, so let’s take a close look at it before that happens.

Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti Project Black S.

Exterior

2016 Infiniti Project Black S High Resolution Exterior
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Let’s not beat around the bush here. The Infiniti Q60 is like the girl next door of the car world. She’s sexy, teases you from a distance with her sweet curves, and has an attitude to back up her good looks. In this case, however, the Q60 has a hotter sister, and the Project Black S is it. Up front, the standard fascia is replaced by something much more menacing with large vents in the corners and a large air dam that gives the front grille the appearance that it’s floating.

A small lip extends from the bottom of the fascia and wraps around the corners before folding over and outlining the outer and upper edge of each corner vent. The grille itself gets a large, chrome surround. The headlights remain the same, as do the defining lines of the hood, but to the inside, two large dimples give the hood even more attitude compared to the current production model.

2016 Infiniti Project Black S High Resolution Exterior
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The Infiniti Q60 is like the girl next door of the car world. She’s sexy, teases you from a distance with her sweet curves, and has an attitude to back up her good looks.

Moving over to the sides, there isn’t a whole lot to talk about, but the big deal here is the body kit, and the Project Black S gets a new pair of side skirts that add even more aggression to the side profile. There’s an extra bump up front, while the side skirt extends outward and upward at the rear wheel arch to create a little winglet of sorts.

Add that in with the excessively sharp body line below the waist, the curved line at the bottom of the door, and the muscular rear haunches, and you have quite the attractive package going on. On a side not, the mirror housings have been painted black, and the chrome trim around the side glass has been accented by a black strip as well. Finally, the roof takes on a black look that matches the finish of the multi-spoke wheels the Project Black S rides on.

It’s a very nice package and not something I thought we would ever see come from Infiniti.

This girl next door is the full package too, as you’ll see she has quite the nice booty. A new spoiler perched on the rear deck lid swoops upward in the middle and features a yellow accent to help offset things a bit. That’s cool and all, but the real magic happens down below where the rear fascia has been replaced by a much more aggressive unit with lots of character on the corners, a built-in diffuser, and centrally located exhaust outlets that are larger than the units found on the road-going queen. Little winglets on the sides help to link the front end, side skirts, and rear together.

All told, it’s a very nice package and not something I thought we would ever see come from Infiniti. It’s more of a package that you would expect from some aftermarket tuner, but this is something that Infiniti should definitely offer in the future.

Interior

2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe High Resolution Interior
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Note: Infiniti Q60 Coupe interior pictured here.

Infiniti has yet to mention anything about the interior, and we don’t have pictures to go by either. So, there could be absolutely nothing changed inside, which may not necessarily be a bad thing, but given the fact that the car is hybrid in nature, I suspect we’ll see upgraded electronics that includes a digital instrument cluster and an updated infotainment display.

Infiniti has yet to mention anything about the interior, and we don’t have pictures to go by either. So, there could be absolutely nothing changed inside.

Given the fact that the car is supposed to fall into the high-performance category, racing seats aren’t out of the question, and there will likely be black accents here and there to help match the exterior package. Aside from those little things, expect the cabin to be mainly stock. But, we’ll learn more about that, hopefully, when the car makes its debut at the Geneva Auto Show, so stay tuned for updates.

Drivetrain

2016 Infiniti Project Black S High Resolution Exterior
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While other manufacturers have been busy spilling beans and telling us what is to come, Infiniti has decided to keep quiet prior to the car’s debut. So, it should come as no surprise that we have very little to go on as far as performance figures or even what motivates this beast. We do know that it’s hybrid in nature and has an energy recovery system that harvests energy and redistributes it to boost power and torque output. Supposedly, this is a system inspired by the dual-hybrid system used in Formula One and provides “instant, significant, and lag-free acceleration.

Considering this is supposed to be a high-performance vehicle, I suspect that Infiniti has managed to pair its 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor and small battery pack.

Considering this is supposed to be a high-performance vehicle, I suspect that Infiniti has managed to pair its 3.0-liter V-6 with an electric motor and small battery pack. This could be an add-on to the optional all-wheel drive system, or a completely new setup, but the question is whether or not Infiniti has used the 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet V-6 or the 400 horsepower and 350 pound-foot V-6.

If it uses the former, output could be slotted somewhere around 450 horsepower and 340 pound-feet when running full hybrid, while the latter could boost power up to the 500 horsepower and 450 pound-foot mark. Now, that would be something to see, right? Either way, it would be a big improvement over the current road-going model, and given the looks of the Project Black S, I’m hoping we’ll see power output approach the 500-pony mark.

Conclusion

2016 Infiniti Project Black S High Resolution Exterior
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At this point, all I can say is that I can’t wait to see this thing in the metal and hear about its full specifications. It could be one powerful, sexy looking ride that pushes Infiniti into the next step of evolution in the high-performance world. Not that the range-topping Q60 Coupe isn’t a beautiful, powerful ride, but this thing pushes it to the next level. Should the public show a lot of interest and a model like this does go into production in the near future, Infiniti could find itself struggling to keep up with customer demands.

Once we get a taste of something like this, we want more, and the brand will surely be pushed to develop other high-performance versions of models in its lineup as well. It’s not a bad thing by any means, but if the Project Black S does stumble into a factory and find itself on a production line, you better hope you’re one of the first on the order list, or you might be waiting a while to take delivery.

  • Leave it
    • * May not become production model
    • * Could be expensive in production form
    • * Still no manual transmission?

Press Release

INFINITI’s Project Black S explores the potential for a new INFINITI performance grade, featuring unique-for-the-road technology inspired by Formula One.

Suggesting a radical reinterpretation of the INFINITI Q60 coupe, the Project Black S features a stand-out, aerodynamically-optimized new design. It also hints at how a performance hybrid powertrain – developed in close collaboration with the Renault Sport Formula One Team – could significantly enhance the performance and dynamics of an INFINITI production car.

The performance hybrid powertrain being explored through Project Black S features an ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) to harvest energy, deploying recovered electric power to boost power and torque. The result is instant, significant, lag-free acceleration. Inspired by the dual-hybrid system proven in Formula One, the technology does not yet exist in a current road car.

A new ‘Black S’ grade, showcased by the new concept, could represent the maximum level of performance and dynamic capability offered by INFINITI. The company believes there is potential for a ‘Black S’ grade that offers progressive levels of product enhancement – including higher power and torque from innovative powertrains, new or uprated suspension systems, and unique design elements.

The unveiling of the Project Black S concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show will help to gauge potential interest in high-performance derivatives of INFINITI cars.

Project Black S: in collaboration with Renault Sport Formula One

Project Black S is a celebration of INFINITI’s relationship with the Renault Sport Formula One Team
Two Alliance partners collaborate to develop powerful Formula One-inspired performance hybrid powertrain and carbon fibre bodywork

“INFINITI is the premium car manufacturer within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and a technical partner to the Renault Sport Formula One Team, so it is natural that we come together to explore the possibility of bringing innovative high-performance hybrid technology to our customers.”

Roland Krueger, President of INFINITI

Project Black S is a collaborative venture between INFINITI and its Renault-Nissan Alliance partner, the Renault Sport Formula One Team, celebrating the relationship between the two.

After five years as a sponsor in Formula One, INFINITI made the move to become a technical partner in 2016. Drawing on the expertise gained developing hybrid technologies during this time, the company has supported the Renault Sport Formula One Team’s development of a dual-hybrid powertrain with an ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS), contributing knowledge in hybrid technology and additional engineering resources.

This technical collaboration has enabled INFINITI to explore the potential for a road-going Formula One-inspired ERS system – a first for a production vehicle. With its multiple links to motorsport, Project Black S would be the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s first consumer-facing Formula One-inspired car. INFINITI has also called upon the team’s high level of expertise in advanced composite materials to create the carbon fibre bodywork elements of the Project Black S.

INFINITI continues to benefit – operationally and technically – from its position within the thriving Renault-Nissan Alliance. The 18-year old partnership sold close to 10-million vehicles in 2016, one in nine of all cars sold globally. That represents Alliance sales growth of 16.8 per cent over 2015 results and marks the Alliance as the fourth largest automaker. Combined savings of €4.3bn in 2015 were achieved through closer integration and synergy efficiencies.

Performance engineering: Formula One hybrid technology for the road

INFINITI is investigating the potential for unique Formula One-inspired hybrid technology in a production car
Energy recovery system could contribute to a 25% increase in power for INFINITI’s new 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine

“INFINITI is leading the way with innovative new powertrain technology for consumers, such as the award-winning 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, and VC-Turbo, the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. With Project Black S, we are looking at how a unique performance hybrid energy recovery system could be adapted from Formula One for use on the road.”

Francois Bancon, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, INFINITI

With Project Black S, INFINITI is exploring the possibility of bringing to market a unique road-ready performance hybrid powertrain.

Project Black S suggests how higher power and torque output could be deployed by fusing the performance hybrid technology with the award-winning 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine, the most advanced V6 engine INFINITI has ever offered. An innovative ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) could contribute to greater performance.

In its Formula One application, the technology employs two types of motor generator unit (MGU) and a battery pack to gather, store and recycle electrical energy. The Renault Sport Formula One ERS system features an MGU-K unit to harvest kinetic energy from braking, and an MGU-H unit – fitted to the turbocharger – to harvest heat energy from exhaust gases.

The energy harvested by each of the MGUs is stored in high-rate discharge lithium-ion batteries, with the recovered electric power deployed to rotate the crankshaft and turbocharger turbine blades more quickly.

Project Black S explores how MGU technology, paired with high-rate discharge batteries, could be adapted for road use. A production car with Formula One-inspired performance hybrid technology would benefit from greater power and torque, and instant, lag-free acceleration. INFINITI powertrain engineers have calculated that a performance hybrid ERS could contribute to an approximate 25% improvement in maximum power output.

INFINITI believes the Q60 sports coupe could provide the ideal platform for a performance hybrid powertrain, and the concept vehicle revealed in Geneva features a range of further modifications to realise maximum performance. These include a new high-performance titanium twin exhaust system, maximizing the efficiency of air flow through the powertrain.

Project Black S also suggests how lightweight 21-inch wheels and wider performance tyres could be deployed for greater traction, while hinting at a weight reduction program to fully offset the additional weight of the performance hybrid system. A ‘Black S’ production car could also benefit from further tuning and modifications to the chassis and suspension.

A performance-inspired design aesthetic

Project Black S to help gauge potential interest in a ‘Black S’ grade
Extensive use of carbon fibre aids aerodynamic efficiency and enables a motorsport-inspired aesthetic with beneficial weight saving

“Project Black S is a daring and elevated representation of INFINITI’s performance DNA. It expresses our desire to create cars that are designed to perform, marrying the potency of a high-performance powertrain with a muscular new design. This project has given us the opportunity to experiment with advanced materials to create a performance-inspired aesthetic that draws on INFINITI’s motorsport ties through the Alliance.”

Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director, INFINITI

The ‘Black S’ grade, hinted at with Project Black S, signifies INFINITI’s desire to realise higher levels of performance and driver engagement. ‘Black S’ models could expand what the existing INFINITI range offers drivers, with higher performance, powertrain developments, modified chassis settings, and a range of performance-inspired design elements. The introduction of a ‘Black S’ specification would enhance INFINITI’s reputation as a manufacturer of premium vehicles that customers love to drive.

Project Black S hints at a more aggressive, performance-enhanced offering from INFINITI. Design work has been led by INFINITI’s London studio in Paddington, under the management of the INFINITI Global Design Center in Japan. The INFINITI Design London team has created an interpretation of the Q60 sports coupe with Formula One-inspired, performance hybrid power in mind.

The concept vehicle is finished in matt grey and black. Gloss black trim replaces the chrome found on the standard car, which surrounds the double-arch grille and lines the crescent-cut C-pillar.

The extensive application of carbon fibre elevates the Project Black S concept above other INFINITI grades as the ultimate expression of a driver’s car, drawing inspiration from the brand’s involvement with motorsport. Alluding to the performance potential of a ‘Black S’ model, the use of carbon fibre has allowed INFINITI to sculpt thin, blade-like design forms that would not be possible with traditional materials, such as metal or fiberglass. While the Q60’s organic and artistic design aesthetic remains, the use of carbon fibre has added a more technical element. Not only is the composite more adaptable; it is also incredibly strong, and carbon fibre components could be used to balance aerodynamic efficiency with high downforce.

Large front splitter, rear diffuser, fenders and side skirts are all constructed out of carbon fibre to minimise weight and enhance downforce, while ultra-thin aero ‘blades’ in the side sills ahead of the rear wheels channel air around the lower body of the car. A large fixed rear wing – also made of carbon fibre – stands proud of the trunk lid, increasing downforce at speed.

Deep body stamping from the Q60’s manufacturing process allows the Project Black S to retain the sports coupe’s deep creases and flowing lines. For the concept, INFINITI designers have wrought a series of changes to create a more daring – even aggressive – design execution.

Enlarged air intakes at the front of the car are more effective at channelling cooling air into the engine bay and brakes, and new hood vents help evacuate heat. At the rear, the body is shaped to allow circulating air to escape as quickly and efficiently as possible, aided by vertical aero foils and the large rear wing for maximum downforce and high-speed stability.

Forged 21-inch aluminium alloy wheels – highlighted by wheel arch extensions – are larger, wider and lighter than those on the standard Q60, adding to the performance image of the concept while also reducing unsprung mass and rotational inertia at each corner.

Future potential

Project Black S suggests what a ‘Black S’ grade could offer customers, and the concept’s debut in Geneva will help INFINITI gauge potential interest in daring high-performance derivatives of its cars that benefit from genuine motorsport technology.

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