By on December 3, 2019

Infiniti’s Q60 Project Black S has been been flying under the radar for a while. Debuting in 2017 at the Geneva Motor Show, the model occupied an interesting space between concept and prototype. It was basically Nissan’s answer to Mercedes-AMG C 63, a question we’re still not sure anybody outside the company ever asked. But it was engrossing and curiosity grew the more Infiniti paraded it around the globe.

Unfortunately parent company Nissan shot itself in the face several times between then and now, leaving the Black to twist in the wind. Infiniti sales within its best market (the United States) haven’t looked all that healthy this year either and the marque has pulled out of Europe to focus on China. The premium Japanese brand has big aspirations, but many are wondering what it will actually be able to achieve under the current conditions. A flagship performance coupe loaded with complicated hybrid tech seems like something bean counters would be against — especially during hard times.

In August, Infiniti said it was still deciding whether to put the car into production and needed a few months to sort everything out. Development of the hybrid powertrain had been finalized and the company said it hoped to reach a decision before 2020. That time is almost up but hope remains.  

Speaking with MotorTrend at the LA Auto Show, Jeff Pope (group vice president for Infiniti Americas) still believes the model would work for the U.S. market as a low-volume halo car. “I think there’s absolutely space, as a specialty vehicle in a small volume, that’s more of a brand recognition type of model. It’d be great to have a nameplate, being one of 400, 500 or however much volume that would be. That’s where I would see the execution of that car. It would be a statement vehicle for us,” he elaborated.

Pope also said the recipe really only works with a car, meaning that engine Infiniti developed with the Renault F1 Team must be slotted into the Q50 and/or Q60 — as they’re the last traditional automobiles left in the brand’s portfolio. Infiniti does plan on offering five new models before 2023, so there’s a chance subsequent crossovers could benefit from the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 equipped with heat (MGU-H) and kinetic energy harvesting systems (MGU-K). But Pope said it’s current roster of SUVs were a bad fit for the 563-horsepower unit.

“I would leave that to the technical people to understand where it could go in the future,” he explained. “Right now, I still think what we need to understand is, you can’t just take the F1 technology and throw it into a vehicle. It doesn’t work that way. But I think if we can get down the road with this, it’ll give us insights into what future technologies we can actually use in our vehicles. I think that’s an exciting question.”

It’s an interesting predicament because the Q60 Project Black S is definitely a gamble for the brand — one it has already put some development funds behind. What it needs are more sales, something the Black could not possibly offer directly. But it could reel in customers by proxy if it creates enough of a positive buzz. Infiniti certainly could use something like that and has said it’s evolving lineup will be filled with exciting new models (don’t they all). Maybe a Q60 that makes the Red Sport models look like baby toys will be just the ticket… or maybe this is a bad idea. I’m just glad I’m not the person making this decision because I would tell the team to build it, consequences be damned.

[Images: Infiniti]

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