The high-performance hybrid Infiniti Q60 Project Black S has taken another step towards production. However, we won’t know for sure if the Black S has gotten the green light until later this year.
The Renault Sport Formula One team announced it has completed its “track-focused development” of the model, where it earned the tick of approval from Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg. The Renault Sport team is now exploring whether the car’s twin-turbocharged, hybrid powertrain can be deployed in a road car.
Carscoops reports that, in discussing production Infiniti deputy chairman, Mike Colleran, tempered expectations. He said “it is still too early to predict the outcome as we need a solid business case, but the latest rounds of testing have proved its unique performance and underlines our pursuit of electrified performance”.
Unveiled at last year’s Paris motor show, the Q60 Project Black S is based on the current performance flagship of the Q60 line, the Red Sport. It takes the 3.0 twin-turbocharged V6 from the Red Sport and adds a trio of electric motor-generator units (MGUs), similar to Renault Sport F1’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS).
One of the MGUs is connected to the rear axle and recovers energy through regenerative braking while the other two are connected to the turbochargers and generate power under acceleration as the turbines spin. These MGUs are powered by a 4.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack which they provide power to in return.
These hybrid components added a hefty 200kg to the Q60 Red Sport, but Infiniti has mitigated that through the use of carbon-fibre for the bonnet, roof and fenders as well as the front seats. The rear seats were also removed to make room for the battery, reducing the weight penalty over the Red Sport to just 24kg while ensuring an almost 50:50 weight distribution.
Power goes through a seven-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels and Infiniti claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of under 4.0 seconds. The rear axle-mounted electric motor produces 122kW on its own, bumping total power up to 420kW. No maximum torque figure has been released yet.
Those power figures put it in the same ballpark as the Q50 Eau Rouge, another high-performance concept on this platform that reached the prototype stage but sadly never reached production.
The Eau Rouge borrowed the 418kW 3.8 twin-turbocharged V6 from the Nissan GT-R, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system from the larger Q70. Unveiled at the 2014 Geneva motor show, the Eau Rouge project was shelved in 2015, reportedly due to cost considerations.
The Project Black S concept has three different drive modes ranging from regular to wild: Road, Race and Quali. That last one’s Quali, not Quail. Instead of the adorable (and tasty) feathered friend, think of a soaring bird of prey as Quali is the mode you select to get the best-possible lap time and it therefore conserves the least energy.
Road mode recharges the battery on the fly and gives you a boost of power when needed, while sitting in between the two extremes is Race which makes the regenerative braking more aggressive but aims to balance performance and efficiency.
Infiniti has retained the controversial steer-by-wire system that’s been criticised for eliminating road feel. In addition to the steering, the brakes and throttle are also controlled by wire.
The pretty Q60 body also gets a mean makeover in Project Black S guise with a lower and wider front splitter, prominent air intakes and a bigger rear diffuser, among other visual enhancements. The wheel arches are filled with 21-inch alloy wheels while the whole package is topped off with a giant rear spoiler modelled after that of the Renault Sport F1 car.
The interior is somewhat less differentiated from the Q60 Red Sport but there’s carbon-fibre trim and yellow accenting à-la Renault’s F1 livery.
The Red Sport is currently the most powerful model in the Q50 and Q60 lines, producing 298kW and 475Nm of torque from its 3.0 twin-turbocharged V6. That’s up from the 224kW and 400Nm in other Q50 models with the same base engine. This less powerful tune isn’t available in the Aussie-market Q60, though.
Infiniti is no stranger to high-performance hybrids, either. The second most powerful Q50 isn’t the detuned version of the Red Sport but, instead, the Q50 Blue Sport. Its 3.5 hybrid V6 produces 268kW and 546Nm and hits 100km/h in 5.1 seconds. Green-minded buyers sadly can’t buy a Q60 Blue Sport, which may have them seeing red.
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