Infiniti’s 500hp Project Black S hybrid has the heart of an F1 racer

The gap between Formula One race cars and regular street cars is a pretty big one. F1 cars are built purely for speed, not getting groceries and commuting. But that didn’t stop Infiniti from trying to add some F1 DNA to its Q60 coupe.

Debuting at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, Infiniti’s Project Black S sounds like it as named by a moody middle schooler, but the sinister nomenclature is totally appropriate. The Project Black S features a hybrid powertrain Infiniti says is derived from F1 tech. This concept car highlights Infiniti’s connection to the Renault F1 team, and hints at sportier new models from the Nissan luxury brand.

This concept car is based on the Q60 Red Sport 400 model. It uses the same 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 as that production model, which develops 400 horsepower on its own. The extra oomph comes from the hybrid system, which recovers energy and uses it to provide a temporary boost of power. That is indeed similar to how actual F1 cars use their hybrid systems. Infiniti promises “instant, significant lag-free acceleration,” and estimates a 25 percent power increase over the standard V6, which works out to 500 hp.

Project Black S harvests energy under braking, stores it in a lithium-ion battery pack, and uses it to power an electric motor attached to the rear axle, according to Automotive News (subscription required). The electric motor is attached to the rear axle. Unlike a Prius, Project Black S is all about performance, not fuel efficiency, and has no apparent ability to drive on electric power alone. What it does have are extensive aerodynamic modifications, a titanium exhaust system, and lots of lightweight carbon fiber parts to make up for the hybrid system’s extra weight.

This isn’t the first time Infiniti has brought out a souped-up version of one of its production models, or touted an F1 connection. Back when it was associated with the Red Bull team, the Nissan luxury brand named driver Sebastian Vettel “director of performance.” It also built the Q50 Eau Rouge, which was essentially a Q50 sedan stuffed with a Nissan GT-R powertrain. It all signified nothing, though. Maybe Project Black S will be different. Or maybe not.

Infiniti primarily views F1 as a marketing tool, and relies on its corporate cousin Renault to actually win races and generate good publicity. Renault has had plenty of past F1 success, but has struggled lately under the new hybrid format. For its part, Infiniti says the Project Black S previews a possible performance-oriented Black S trim option for future production cars, although it’s unclear if the F1-style hybrid system will make it into production.

This article was originally published on 03-03-17. Updated on 03-06-17 by Stephen Edelstein: Added more photos and specifications.

Product Review

Nifty fifty: Nikon's Z 50mm f/1.8 S shows sharp potential for Z mount

While not nearly as cheap as its DSLR counterpart, the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S shows the potential for Nikon's new mirrorless Z-mount with excellent sharpness.
Cars

Mini’s most extreme hot hatchback will hit the streets in 2020

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the basic Mini Cooper.
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

Drool over Lamborghini’s latest dream machine: The one-off SC18

The Lamborghini SC18 was built by the automaker's Squadra Corse racing department at the request of a customer. Based on the Lamborghini Aventador, it features upgraded aerodynamic aids and reduced weight.
Cars

Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn ousted, arrested after whistleblower cries foul

Nissan will oust chairman Carlos Ghosn after an internal investigation revealed he underreported his salary to Japan's financial authorities for years. Greg Kelly, one of Nissan's representative directors, will leave for the same reason.
Cars

Tesla owners will soon be able to summon a repair van in a few taps

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out plans to expand the Tesla mobile app so Tesla owners can request on-demand service for common problems from Tesla Ranger mobile service vehicles in just a few taps.
Product Review

While other crossovers dabble in dirt, Toyota's truck-like RAV4 doubles down

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 gets a clean-sheet redesign, ditching the previous generation’s car-like styling for truck-like toughness. Toyota’s compact crossover also gets more tech and new powertrains.
Cars

2019 Crosstrek Hybrid has something no Subaru has ever had

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is the Japanese automaker's first production plug-in hybrid vehicle. It will go on sale before the end of the year. Subaru relied on plug-in hybrid tech from Toyota to make the Crosstrek Hybrid a reality.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…
Cars

Jaguar can take the next F-Type in one of two completely different directions

Jaguar needs to decide what the future has in store for the F-Type. Its options include turning the next-generation model into an electric car aimed at the Tesla Roadster or pelting it into the ring with a twin-turbocharged V8 from BMW.
Product Review

A Mercedes so sophisticated, it connects to your watch to plan your massage

The mid-size luxury SUV segment is a must-win competition, and the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is the newest contender. With active suspension, driver assist, and even a connection to your watch, this is more than an SUV, it’s a mobile device.
Cars

With lessons learned from racing, Mercedes-AMG takes GT R sports car to next level

Mercedes-AMG keeps finding ways to make its GT sports car even more hardcore. If you thought the GT R variant was as good as it got, get ready for the GT R Pro, which will race into the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Cars

Volvo will be at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, but it won’t bring any cars

Volvo has declared that it won't unveil any new models at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, and that its display at the show won't feature a single car. Instead, Volvo plans to focus on mobility services.
Cars

How a village in Italy caught 58,000 speeding drivers in just 10 days

A village in Italy knew it had an issue with cars speeding through it, but data from a newly set-up speed camera left residents utterly gobsmacked. In just the first 10 days, the camera recorded more than 58,000 speeding offenses.