Head-turning looks, top-shelf speed, and a bright hybrid future

Like pretty much every other major automaker out there, Infiniti is signaling a strong move towards electrification in the very near future, with a particularly heavy emphasis on the tech slated for 2021 and onward. While some enthusiasts will undoubtedly cringe at the thought of yet more battery-powered vehicles plying the roads, Infiniti is proving that such a fate is anything but boring, especially when it comes infused with technology plucked from the high-speed world of Formula 1 racing. Which brings us to the latest Project Black S concept, which recently made its big debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Offered as an evolution of the previous Infiniti Project Black S that dropped at the Geneva Auto Show a few years back, this latest creation is based on the utterly fantastic Q60 Red Sport 400 sports coupe, and provides both aesthetic and technical details on how Infiniti plans to implement hybrid technology to spark the interest of speed lovers everywhere.

Continue reading to lean more about the 2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept Exterior Styling

  • Very aggressive aero package
  • Still keeps the original vehicle’s shape
  • Organic, yet functional
  • Large rear wing developed with F1 team
  • Flat-black paint, yellow detailing
  • Plus-sized wheel package
2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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The aesthetic looks to combine the organic shapes and lines offered by the standard Q60 with the functionality and aggression you’d expect in the world of racing.

The result is unique and quite sporty, standing out from the competition with its own style and presence.

And although the Infiniti Project Black S doesn’t have the ruthless edge of a full-blown competition vehicle, the look is anything but understated. Up front, we find Infiniti’s characteristic central intake shape, which seems to bulge around the nose and add extra visual girth overall. The headlights are drawn-back into the flared front fenders and come outlined in LED lighting elements, while additional plus-sized side intakes occupy the lower corners.

The lower edge gets a prominent splitter element that cuts deep below the central intake, while higher up on the hood, you’ll find a pair of external vents.

Moving around to the sides, the Infiniti shows off with a curvaceous roofline and additional side skirt creases, complementing the front-end’s dynamic appearance. Vents are placed just behind the front wheels, while the fender lines rise and fall around a plus-sized wheel-and-tire combo that fills the fender gap with a purposeful presence. The rollers come with a unique split-spoke design that’s finished in a shade of semi-gloss black. We also like the sharp crease around the C-pillar, which adds to the organic shape of the car’s profile.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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The most obvious addition has to be that gigantic rear wing, which seems to sprout from the curving rear deck lid thanks to a trio of supports and a double-element aero blade, not to mention the technical-looking endplates

. Below the wing, the taillights complement to front end with a sultry shape and smoked color, while a large diffuser element was added to the lower bumper. Twin tailpipes sit in the corners and employ a rifled look to their design.

While the aero setup is definitely quite stunning to behold, this thing is about much more than just looking good. Indeed, the aero also benefits from a “cross-Alliance collaboration” for maximum efficiency and functionality.

“Partnering with the Renault Sport Formula One Team has also given Infiniti access to more specialized development technologies, including advanced digital validation tools for optimizing the car’s aerodynamics,” Infiniti explains.

The most prominent element to the setup is the extra-large wing mounted in back. Although we’re not normally fans of the GT spoiler look, we think this thing actually manages to pull it off, especially with all the other aero enhancements added elsewhere in the body.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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Just one close look will confirm - this isn’t some knock-off plastic piece bought off eBay.

Rather, the wing was “validated by Renault Sport Formula One Team’s aerodynamicists and finished in carbon fiber.”

The wing’s profile is actually similar in design to the wing that the Renault Sport Formula One Team uses at Monza. While the F1 Monza piece creates a “relatively low level of downforce for a Formula One car,” we think it’s a pretty outstanding piece to add to a road car.

The wing wasn’t designed in isolation either, as Infiniti employed a raft of digital modeling techniques to alter the shape of the entire aero package, maximizing its effect on the car’s overall aero balance.

And while the look is similar to the Project Black S we’ve seen before, there are plenty of additional upgrades to point to with this new evolution. The aero, for example, is much more pronounced (and presumably much more effective as well).

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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What’s more, this later concept comes with a variety of yellow accents added front to back.

This includes trim bits along the rear wing, around the outer wheel rim, along the rear diffuser, atop the brake calipers, and under the hood as well. Overall, we think it looks great against the flat black paint and new aero package.

Kudos Infiniti!

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept Interior Design

  • Based on the Q60 Coupe’s interior
  • Black and yellow theme included inside
  • Plenty of carbon fiber, Alcantara, and leather
2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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Moving into the cabin, the Infiniti Project Black S Concept offers the same general layout as the standard Q60 Coupe. However, the devil is in the details with this one.

For example, the dash still uses the same upward-sweeping cues that lead from the central tunnel up to leather-clad surfaces above, while the center console stands tall with a glossy black surround and top-mounted touchscreen element. Vertical air vents are found flanking the screen, while a set of analogue gauges are behind the three-spoke steering wheel.

Despite the similarities, the Project Black S looks much, much more aggressive. For starters, the whole thing is draped in a black and yellow color scheme that echoes the exterior bits, with carbon, Alcantara, and leather mingling with yellow contrast stitching, a unique yellow upholstery pattern on the seats and door panels, and yellow detailing on the steering wheel, center tunnel controls, and elsewhere.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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The seats are new as well, with svelte, sporty carbon-backed buckets replacing the stocker’s more bulbous, extra-padded sitters.

There’s also a set of four-point racing harnesses, complete with yellow-lined harness pass-throughs, while the rear bench is now a solid slab of carbon fiber, rather than the standard vehicle’s plush plus-two bench.

Final details include unique carbon sill plates and carbon covers for the center tunnel and dash bits.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept Drivetrain And Performance

  • Twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, hybridized
  • Could find its way into a road car in the future
  • Developed using F1 tech
  • Draws extra energy from the brakes and turbo heat
  • 563 horsepower, a 163-horsepower boost
  • 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds
2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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While the Infiniti Project Black S certainly {looks} the part of a fire-breathing monster, it needs the right stuff under the hood to complete the package.

Luckily, that’s exactly what we get, as under that out-of-this world carbon engine dress-up piece sits a hybridized V-6 sporting tech sourced from the Renault Sport Formula One Team.

Break it down, and this powerplant is basically a high-strung iteration of Infiniti’s VR30 engine package, which means it displaces a maximum of three liters and gets stuffed by a duo of turbochargers.

Now for the fun part.

Beyond the boost, this V-6 also gets extra punch thanks to its unique dual-hybrid electric powertrain technology. Infiniti says the system was developed specifically with road use in mind, and claims it as a world first.

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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All good news, as it sounds like Infiniti is prepping the tech for a full production run. Oh yeah, baby.

The meat and potatoes of the hybrid system is a trio of electric motors, which Infiniti individually label as motor generator units, or “MGU.”

These include the MGU-K, with the K standing for “kinetic,” which manages to salvage extra kinetic energy under braking. Even more efficiency can be had thanks the twin MGU-H (“Heat”) components, which manage to grab additional energy from the exhaust gas heat energy emanating from around the turbochargers.

Combined, these two systems enable the powertrain to “generate electrical power under both braking and acceleration,” according to Infiniti. And that means even more grunt under your right foot, no matter the situation.

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

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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All told, the hybrid V-6 can produce upwards of 563 horsepower, which is a sizable 163-horse jump compared to the standard Red Sport VR30’s 400 horsepower.

It also gives the Black S a power-to-weight ratio of 235 w/kg.

Unfortunately, Infiniti didn’t mention any torque figures, but for the sake of comparison, the standard Red Sport makes 350 pound-feet of the stuff. Also, the standard Red Sport manages a run to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 153 mph.

Meanwhile, Infiniti estimates the Project Black S can produce a time under the four-second mark in the sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph), and while top speed was left out of the spec sheet, we would expect a number around 160 to 165 mph, even with the extra drag produced by all that aero stuff.

Finally, it looks as though the Project Black S carries over the Red Sport’s seven-speed automatic transmission, as evidenced by the gear selector seen in the interior shots. As such, we’re assuming the power hits the pavement exclusively through the rear wheels, just like the standard Red Sport.

Final Thoughts

2018 Infiniti Project Black S Concept
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While the the 2018 Infiniti Project Black S might be an evolution of a previous design study, we’re still quite excited about it.

Namely, we’re loving the extra details Infiniti is dropping this time around, providing clearer insight into the luxury automaker’s future sporting intentions. It gets us thinking about how this dual-hybrid electric powertrain technology could find its way into a future production car from Infiniti, and long story short, we’re stoked to find out exactly how that might play out.

What’s more, the new release gives us additional shots of this superb little executive sport compact, revealing its aggressive new aero setup in its full glory.

“The Black S designation represents the highest level of performance, dynamic capability, effective aerodynamics, and intelligent energy management offered by Infiniti,” the automaker says in a press release.

You’re on the right track, Infiniti. Time to execute.

  • Leave it
    • Just a concept for now
    • Where will the production version fall in terms of pricing?

Further Reading

2016 Infiniti Project Black S
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Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti Project Black S.

2017 Infiniti Q60S - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 705238

Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti Q60S.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 661436

Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe.

As part of its plan to electrify its portfolio from 2021 onward, 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. Following the 2017 INFINITI Project Black S design study, the new hybrid electric prototype illustrates the brand’s commitment to developing exciting high-performance electrified powertrains, drawing on expertise from across the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. The Project Black S prototype fuses high-performance dual-hybrid technology with INFINITI’s award-winning VR30 3.0-liter 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 0-100 km acceleration under 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 RED SPORT 400 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 utilizes 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 testbed 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’s 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 optimizes 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 specialized development technologies, including advanced digital validation tools for optimizing 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 fiber. 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. INFINITI’s Project Black S prototype will be revealed in Paris on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. EST.

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