Infiniti Testing Project Black S For Future Production

Interview

That awesome hybrid system is still "under study."

Infiniti has built a slew of stunning concept cars lately, including the single-seat Prototype 10, the four-door Q Inspiration Concept, and the high-performance Q60 Project Black S. Yet, the company's actual product line has been relatively stagnant for the past few years. Nissan and Infiniti made big waves with their new Variable Compression Turbo engine but both brands are lacking a new performance halo car enthusiasts can get excited about.

At the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, we had a chance to sit down with Steve Paik, Senior Manager, Infiniti Product Planning, to discuss some of the burning questions our readers have asked about the future of performance from Infiniti.

The burning question on the minds of enthusiasts was discussed first: Will Infiniti build the awesome Q60 Project Black S Concept? This incredibly impressive concept car uses the Q60's 3.0-liter 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 paired with an F1-derived hybrid system to produce a total output of 563 hp. When discussing the Project Black S, it didn't seem like Infiniti was sold on its production viability.

"The Black S is not a traditional hybrid because you're using Renault Formula 1 technology and is really more of an experiment to demonstrate the technical prowess of this alliance that we have," said Paik. "So, it's still under study whether or not it's viable for production - for a race car, it's one thing to make technology like that but for a production car, we're worried about durability, reliability, and things like that. It's still very much an experiment."

"It's more like a science study," added Vanessa Bohlscheid, Senior Manager, Product and Brand Communications. "That gives you such a good platform to make sure that we can, with the [Renault-Nissan Alliance], test certain things."

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Clearly, the Q60 Black S Concept still has plenty of kinks to work out, so we asked about another possible performance car from Infiniti in the form of the QX30. Having driven the current QX30, which is based on the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, we asked whether an AMG-powered version would ever be in the cards. Unfortunately, like the Q60 Project Black S, Infiniti doesn't seem to be seeking high-performance on the QX30.

"I think it came down to more of the role in the lineup of what QX30 is for Infiniti," said Paik. "It's really the introduction that gets people into the brand and show's people what we stand for. The role of the QX30 didn't really align with having a giant horsepower motor - whereas Mercedes has a different strategy."

Despite its concept cars stealing the spotlight at auto shows, it appears that for the moment at least, performance cars are not a priority for Infiniti. The Japanese carmaker is far more excited about its plans to electrify every model in its lineup by 2021. Certain concepts could enter production as replacements for current Infiniti models, like the Q Inspiration Concept as a replacement for the Q70. Others, like the single-seat, roofless Prototype 10, are almost guaranteed to never reach production.

"I look at our concept cars and I wish we could build them all - even the Prototype 10," said Paik. "I don't know if a one-seater works for everyone but it works for me. I have two kids but I'd love to have one."

We hope Infiniti finds a way to put its stunning concept vehicles into production. Otherwise, cars like the Q60 Project Black S will simply fall to the wayside like the GT-R-powered Q50 Eau Rouge Concept, which never saw production.

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