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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.

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