Infiniti pulled out of F1 back in December. Great! The connections it had with Red Bull and then Renault never made sense. What’s a bummer is that the Infiniti Q60 Project Black S concept, Infiniti’s high-performance version of the Q60 coupe with some trickle-down tech from the hybrid single seater series, is dead.
The Q60, coupe to the same Q50 sedan that’s sold as the Skyline over in Japan, is a handsome design, but it’s never quite become a really desirable vehicle. It has no oomph. No performance version to draw attention to itself. Project Black S could have been that car, as Automotive News reports:
Project Black S, which debuted as a running prototype on the eve of the 2018 Paris auto show, showcased technologies the Japanese luxury automaker developed in collaboration with the Renault Sport Formula One racing team.
Based on the Q60 coupe, the concept was powered by a dual-hybrid electrified powertrain that boosted Infiniti’s 400-hp VR30 twin-turbo V-6 engine into an estimated 563-hp electrified power source.
The carbon-fiber concept featured a novel way of recouping lost energy during braking. In addition to using regenerative braking to recharge the batteries, the Black S harvested heat energy from the exhaust gases in the engine’s twin turbochargers. This allowed the powertrain to generate electrical power under both braking and acceleration.
The proposal is “shelved [...] for now,” according to Automotive News, but I’m not holding my breath for its return. Infiniti was going to give us a VR38DETT GT-R engine in the Q50 Eau Rouge, then nothing.
We did get a 400-horsepower VR30DETT-equipped Red Sport, but that car has been sort of a bummer to drive. The specs are right, the feel is not, as we wrote in 2018:
The weakest point in the driving experience is the steering. The Direct Adaptive Steering is accurate in that it goes where you want it to, but the way it hardens up in the Sport+ mode doesn’t seem natural, and it makes driving the car feel like a trip through the uncanny valley. It’s not something I ever got used to in my week of driving it, with a hint of distrust lingering in the back of my mind, downgrading a performance setup with a lot of potential into something just shy of effortless fun.
The way you have to work the 400 hp out of this thing, coupled with the numb, unresponsive steering reminds me of the sensation you get when you start drinking around your parents. It doesn’t want you to do it, and there’s an awkward energy looming in the background, but it reluctantly goes along with it because it’s what you want.
Seeing something like Project Black S showed that there was a chance at a committed driver’s version of this car, not just one with more power. Infiniti spent all this time in F1, only to drop the car once it’s out? That’s a bummer. The Q60 deserves better.