Infiniti Project Black S concept – Menacing new look for the graceful Japanese coupe
Infiniti has unveiled the Project Black S, a concept based on its sleek and elegant flagship coupe. The Black S version gives the Q60 a more aggressive attitude thanks to matte grey paint and carbonfibre aero additions. The race car aura that the concept sports helps emphasise the alliance between Infiniti and Renault Sport F1 as technical partners. The Project Black S concept will be shown at this year’s Geneva motor show.
Despite its name the Black S is actually finished in dark grey matte. The paint alone highlights the Q60’s existing curves and makes the front arches look stretched and the rear three-quarter more defined and stronger. But it’s just an illusion, as most of the Q60’s body has been left unchanged.
> Read our review of the Infiniti Q60S
The Black S isn’t simply a Q60 with some new paint and an off the shelf wing and a diffuser, though. The concept gets a reprofiled front and rear bumper, arch extensions to cover a wider track, wheel-well vents, new sills, cooling vents in the bonnet as well as a bespoke wing and diffuser. Each of the new elements have been designed to complement and accentuate the Q60’s existing sculptured shapes and surfaces.
Mat Weaver, Infiniti’s European design director, showed evo around the car and described the process in transforming the Q60. ‘I like aggressive cars, but it has to suit the style of the car. We’ve taken cues from the Q60’s sculpture and the surfaces so everything now has an elegance to the surface as well as being quite purposeful.’
When asked if adapting the Q60’s distinctive, almost decorative exterior, to a bolder more macho look was a difficult task, Weaver said: ‘The Q60 has a strong image. So no, it was easy to contrast the elegance and the car takes it very naturally.’
To integrate the new aerodynamic items the team followed the same philosophy with the Black S modifications as it does on every project, including entire cars. ‘We call it hand of the artist, or hand of the craftsmen’ Weaver explains. The result is that each new element has a delicate, organic shape.
The flicks and shapes that Weaver and his team have created to suit the Q60’s appearance, coincidentally, look similar to the modern wings that appear on modern Formula 1 cars and further signify the relationship that Infiniti has with Renault Sport F1.
The Japanese company has shared information and technology with the F1 team for years; Renault Sport F1 helped refine the V6 that’s in the Q60 and Infiniti helped develop the energy recovery system in this year’s F1 car, the R.S. 17.
> Find out more about Renault Sport’s 2017 Formula 1 car, the R.S. 17
As the Q60 Black S is just a concept for now it’s mechanically identical to the production Q60. However, as the project continues, Infiniti plans to adapt the F1 car’s ERS package to suit the road car’s 3-litre turbocharged V6.
The ERS in the F1 car harvests energy during braking and from the heat of the exhausts, and converts it to electrical energy that is then stored in a lithium-ion battery pack. The electrical energy is used to help spin the turbo’s turbine shaft to help reduce lag, and also adds torque directly to the drivetrain.
Infiniti estimates that adding ERS to the Q60’s drivetrain could increase power by 25%, giving the Black S 500bhp. With that sort of power, combined with its track-ready look, the Q60 Project Black S would be a direct rival to the BMW M4 GTS.
> Read our review of the BMW M4 GTS
As well as the aerodynamic additions, Infiniti has also focused on improving cooling to the engine in the Black S, should it ever need to cope with the extra power. The distinctive grille on the Q60 hasn’t changed, but the bodywork around it has been flared out so air can enter either side rather than just through it. Vents have been cut into the bonnet and the lower bumper has significantly bigger and wider openings, too.
Infiniti says that the Black S will also receive an appropriately upgraded chassis. The exact details haven’t been released but the concept sits on new 21-inch wheels, and spats have been added to the arches to cover the extended track width.
Infiniti hasn’t confirmed whether it will actually build the Q60 Project Black S, or not. Instead the concept is to introduce the Black S as the top of the range model line, and assert the attitude that cars that wear the badge will have. Infiniti’s current flagship car, the Q60 Red S, combines luxury with a hint of performance. Cars sporting the Black S trim, as clarified by this concept, will be more performance-oriented.
So even if we aren’t lucky enough to be treated to a full production Q60 Project Black S, we will see other Infinitis with increased performance, more focused chassis and more aggressive exteriors.