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Infiniti Project Black S Prototype Is Back With World First Dual-Hybrid Powertrain

Reveal / 16 Comments

But the big question is whether it’ll make production.

Infiniti wants to remind us that its Project Black S is still alive and kicking. First shown in 2017 at Geneva, the prototype has been significantly improved and is today making a fresh appearance in Paris, ahead of tomorrow's motor show.

So, what's new? Like before, it's based on the Infiniti Q60 coupe and remains an engineering testbed, if you will, on how to blend F1 technology into a road car. The updated Project Black S prototype now features a Renault Sport Formula One Team-inspired dual-hybrid powertrain system, the first time such a system has ever been infused into a road car. The system has been modified for road use and it all starts with a twin-turbo V6 engine.

The newly added dual-hybrid system "combines supersport performance with smart energy management," according to Infiniti. Here's how it works: the 3.0-liter VR30 V6 has been developed to include a pair of heat energy harvesting systems that are capable of developing electricity under acceleration.

Combined with a kinetic energy harvesting system, called MGU-K (motor generator unit-kinetic), it also generates electricity while braking and accelerating. The system stores the energy and discharges it when required by the driver. This can be done in two ways: the electric assist can be used as an anti-lag system to spool up the turbochargers, or delivering power directly to the drivetrain.

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Three F1-inspired driving modes: Road, Quali, and Race can be used with total output rated at 563 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque (400 of it coming from the V6 engine). Power goes to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Top speed has yet to be announced, but Infiniti estimates a 0-62 mph of less than four seconds.

Weighing a total of 3,915 pounds and having a power-to-weight ratio 39 percent higher than the Q60 Red Sport 400, the updated Project Black S prototype is vital for another reason: its technology is a preview for what's to come for Infiniti as a whole. The Japanese carmaker previously announced that starting in 2021 all-new models will have electrified powertrains. Performance and driving satisfaction are musts.

The car's aerodynamics were also optimized by the Renault Sport F1 team. For example, the new rear wing offers significantly more downforce and high-speed stability than before.

"Project Black S goes deeper, allowing the science of Formula One engineering to lead us to another level. The artistry we love in the Q60 has become sharper, and blade-like carbon and performance-focused cooling ducts have transformed the Q60 into a beast," said Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's global design chief.

To shave weight, the hood, fenders, and roof panels are all made from carbon fiber. The twin titanium exhaust tips were 3D printed. The interior, though similar to that of the regular Q60, has some F1 inspiration with a more minimalist approach.

"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," said Infiniti president Roland Krueger.

Of course, there is no word on whether this amazing concept will enter production. Infiniti did say that "the prototype's development [will] shift from digital and dynamometer environments on to the track, for performance testing and validation in a range of real driving conditions" This means there may be a chance Infiniti actually comes through and builds it.