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 standout, 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:
“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 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 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.
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.