We’ll forgive you for not having the Project Black S foremost in your mind. As a refresher, Japanese premium automaker Infiniti locked arms with the RenaultSport F1 Team to see just how much performance they could extract from a humble Q60 coupe starting point.
What it yielded was a menacing looking beast that shed all preconceived notions about what a track-focused Infiniti could be, and the concept car that was revealed at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show cemented speculation that, while the 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo engine remained, it emerged highly tuned and augmented by a hybrid drive and an F1-derived kinetic energy recovery system.
With that goal reached, the silence that followed after the Swiss unveil was pretty much all parties trying to package the car into one that could be sold for street use, and at a price that would both justify the added performance and tech but not stray too far from what brand fans would expect to pay.
That long hiatus has now been broken with the news that Infiniti and RenaultSport have made significant progress with the Black S prototype, most recently undergoing testing at Austria’s Salzburgring by F1 racer Nico Hulkenberg. With the car as refined as it’s ever going to be, they promise a production decision will be made by the end of 2019.
Mike Colleran, Deputy Chairman, INFINITI Motor Company, comments: “The work that has gone into Project Black S represents a milestone in INFINITI’s road to electrification. This test-bed for new ideas, and rapid development, represents everything INFINITI hopes to achieve with its electrified cars in future, such as smart energy management from advanced high-performance powertrains, a thrilling drive, and a performance aesthetic.”
The performance gains the highly modified Q60 coupe benefits from come largely from its extensive weight saving regimen and newly swapped carbon fibre body and aero components as well as its unique dual hybrid powertrain.
Under the bonnet, the VR30 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 has been made to work alongside two energy harvesting mechanisms, the first of which absorbs the heat generated by the internal combustion engine itself, converting it into electricity under acceleration. The second extracts heat from the brakes in a similar process.
Like the R.S19 Formula 1 racer car, the gathered electrical energy is stored and managed within the vehicle by a standalone processing unit and, depending on the situation, is able to direct it where the Project Black S needs it most - be it spooling up the turbochargers at a moment’s notice or sending power directly to the rear wheels via the integrated electric motor.
Infiniti and RenaultSport claim the dual-hybrid powertrain manages to extract 418kW or 40 percent more power than the Q60 donor car and delivers sustained high electrically-assisted high performance lap after lap.
Colleran added: “There is still work to be done. Now we have two completed prototypes we will fully evaluate the production potential of Project Black S. 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."
"This is an exciting phase of the process. We will consider every element of the development prototypes to establish the feasibility of volume or limited production in future.”