INFINITI has long been a leader in the Performance Hybrid field. Before hybrid technology was introduced to Formula OneTM, and when power-boosting performance hybrid engineering was in its infancy, INFINITI confidently declared its intent to be a leader in premium high performance hybrid research and manufacturing.
In 2011, with a ground-breaking entry in the Guinness World Records, INFINITI pointed to a different use for hybrid, and its potential for high performance. The INFINITI M35h, now known as the Q70 Hybrid, covered the 400m (quarter-mile) drag strip in just 13.9 seconds from a standing start at the Santa Pod track in the United Kingdom.
Witnessed by a representative from the Guinness World Records, the spacious four-door, five-seat, luxury performance sedan recorded a computer-measured time more typical of a pure-bred sports car.
Sprinting to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and crossing the finish line at speeds in excess of 160 km/h (100 mph), the Q70 Hybrid became the world's fastest accelerating full-hybrid car.
This gasoline electric vehicle utilized performance-focused hybrid technology to secure its place in history, combining a V6 internal combustion engine with a 50 kW electric motor to produce a total of 360 horsepower, while achieving 145 g/km of CO2 emissions.
While other manufacturers focused on building high-mileage, low-performance hybrids, INFINITI chose an alternative strategy. The engineering brain behind the brawn is INFINITI’s Direct Response Hybrid® technology, and it is the same advanced concept underpinning INFINITI high performance hybrid models today.
Recognized engineering excellence
Soon after becoming the world's fastest accelerating full-hybrid car, the high-tech heart within the Q70 Hybrid was honored as the sole hybrid powertrain noted by WardsAuto.com and WardsAuto World magazine in their 2012 “10 Best Engines” list.
This prestigious list has been compiled annually by the editors of WardsAuto for over two decades. WardsAuto, an international automotive industry publication itself over 80-years old, recognizes the elite from a comprehensive collection of international nominees.
During the testing process, the WardsAuto editors commented that “the M35h (Q70 Hybrid) trumps German luxury hybrid sedans that cost much more”, and that the INFINITI luxury hybrid sedan was a "spectacular technological achievement".
Q50 Hybrid: quicker still
Setting high performance world records is one thing, but beating them is yet another achievement.
The next INFINITI model to utilize the Direct Response Hybrid® system was the Q50 Hybrid, launched in 2014. INFINITI’s all-new four-door sports sedan promised performance delivered with refinement, a luxurious interior, and the latest driver-focused technology. A fitting next destination for INFINITI’s potent, modern powertrain, and the Q50 Hybrid maximized the powertrain’s potential.
Where the Q70 Hybrid covered the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds, the Q50 Hybrid trimmed that time by three-tenths of a second, to 13.6 seconds. The Q50 Hybrid also lowered the 0-60 mph sprint time to just 4.9 seconds.
These performance statistics were only achieved with the Direct Response Hybrid® system adding 67 hp and 214 lb-ft (290 Nm) of torque to the 3.5-liter V6 engine’s output, for a full-blooded 360 hp and 472 lb-ft (640 Nm) of torque. It is this abundance of torque that gives the INFINITI Q50 and Q70 performance hybrid models their acceleration and quick throttle response, and always-on-tap driver pleasure.
“From the outset, we sought to develop a hybrid powertrain that would enhance driving dynamics and excitement, and deliver refined performance. That is our philosophy,” says François Bancon, INFINITI Vice President Product Strategy.
“In the future, we see our INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid® engineering as a performance pillar of the INFINITI range – always with an exhilarating driving experience as the ultimate goal.”
Empower the drive
From the day INFINITI set a Guinness World Record for the fastest-accelerating full-hybrid car (Q70 Hybrid), hybrid technology has become more than a game changer on the racetrack and on the road. It has shown the world what INFINITI is capable of. Both the Q50 Hybrid and the Q70 Hybrid harness the power of electricity for a response that is more typical of a sports car than a sedan. Designed for instant electric torque, the INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid® system elevates the driving experience, resulting in state-of-the-art performance for motorsports and supercars alike. It's a philosophy driven by ambition and carried by momentum.
Hybrid in Formula One and the Renault Sport Formula One Team
The 2014 Formula One season, through new regulations, saw the introduction of 1.6-liter V6 engines, greatly enhanced by powerful electric hybrid systems. These hybrid power units make more horsepower (and considerably greater amounts of usable torque in the lower rev range) and use less fuel than the 2.4-liter V8 gasoline-only racing engines they replaced.
INFINITI applied this forward-looking technology to its road cars in 2011, using electric energy to replace engine capacity – and so too now the new crop of hybrid Formula One power units develop more power from smaller engine capacities. Now more than ever there is a relevant technology crossover between the automotive industry and Formula One.
Much like a Formula One car, the INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid® harvests energy during braking – energy that would normally be wasted – and replenishes a unique fast charge / discharge lithium-ion battery. Then, when the driver demands maximum acceleration the battery powers a 50 kW electric motor housed within the seven-speed, twin-clutch automatic transmission and produces a wave of instant torque.
The performance hybrid system complements INFINITI’s existing internal combustion engine with instant electric torque. Formula One drivers have noted the impressive acceleration torque of the current capacity-downsized hybrid powertrains, and INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid® drivers will also enjoy breath-taking acceleration and performance.
Empower the race
In 2016, INFINITI entered the highest level of motorsport as a technical partner of the Renault Sport Formula One Team. By leveraging its expertise in hybrids, INFINITI helped to co-develop a revolutionary new energy recovery system (ERS). This sophisticated hybrid technology recovers otherwise lost energy and can deliver a boost equivalent of 120 kW or 160 horsepower, accelerating new possibilities in performance.
Although on the surface, the Renault Sport Formula One race car is very different from the INFINITI Q70 or Q50 Hybrid, its drivetrain technology is fundamentally very similar. The ERS, like the INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid®, harnesses energy lost during braking, converting kinetic energy into electricity to replenish the lithium-ion battery that powers the electric motor.
As Renault pursues victory on the racetrack, innovation will be applied to production vehicles, which will redefine exhilaration for INFINITI drivers everywhere.