The Infiniti FX concept designed and built for the recent crowned double Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel is to enter production, Infiniti, the luxury performance automotive brand from Japan, has confirmed.
The star of Infiniti’s stand at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show (Germany) in September, the FX Sebastian Vettel version features design, engineering, and aerodynamics upgrades inspired by the and Infiniti Global Brand Ambassador.
The Frankfurt concept car was born out of a conversation between Sebastian Vettel, already an Infiniti FX driver, and Infiniti Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The V8 FX50S Premium, Infiniti’s flagship as well as its best-selling model in some markets, provides the ideal starting point for the FX Sebastian Vettel version. However, the modifications include increased power, reduced weight, a de-restricted top speed, longer gearing, augmented downforce and lowered and stiffer suspension.
The car’s revised aerodynamics profile is the result of changes made by Infiniti designers and engineers after meetings involving Sebastian and Red Bull Racing personnel. A Red Bull Racing RB7 was even shipped to Japan to provide real life inspiration for the team bringing the World Champion’s road car dream to life. Riding 20mm lower than standard and featuring a more aerodynamic, as well as the more distinctive, Essence-inspired grille, the most obvious change is the addition of a carbon rear wing. Tests show that it delivers increased downforce and stability, at the 300km/h speeds of which the FX Sebastian Vettel version is capable.
As well as a 30 per cent improvement in the coefficient of lift (Cl), the special FX boasts a 5 per cent lower coefficient of drag (Cd). Carbon is used for the splitter, sills, front grille, mirror covers and rear diffuser, trimming the weight of what is already one of the lighter SUVs in its size class. Design of the splitter and diffuser is inspired by the F1 car, as is the central rear fog light, mirroring an F1 car’s rain light. The wheels, which are 21-inch black multi-spoke alloys with silver rims, have been designed exclusively for this car and to save mass over the standard 21-inch FX50 wheel. At 2049kg, the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel version weighs 46kg less than a standard FX50S Premium.
Lower, and even more distinctive with new LED daytime running lights set just below the front bumper section, the concept FX exudes dynamic power. The new look enhances the sports car-like proportions and makes the flowing profile even more seductive. Dark smoke lights back and front complete the look, along with Vettel logos on both sides and at the rear.
With an already potent 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet, relatively little needed to be done to enable the world’s most special FX to hit Sebastian Vettel’s maximum speed target of 300km/h. The car has been freed of its speed limiter which electronically restricts all other FXs to 250km/h. Even in standard form, with the VVEL V8 producing 390PS at 6500rpm, the car has plenty of performance beyond its artificial top speed, but even so more power had to be found to deliver 300km/h.
The Sebastian Vettel Infiniti FX will go from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds
No radical engine reworking was necessary to gain the extra 30PS that takes the Infiniti FX Vettel concept’s power output to 420PS. A new exhaust system liberates some of the extra horsepower while a reprogrammed engine ECU takes care of the rest, with no discernible difference to the V8’s response or efficiency. In addition to the extra power is a longer final drive ratio to deliver a 300km/h Autobahn speed without any detrimental effects on refinement. The car also sprints to 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds, two tenths of a second ahead of the standard Infiniti FX.
Stiffer springs and re-rated dampers take the FX50’s already highly focused sports chassis into a new area of precision control for the smooth-surface, high-speed driving for which the car exists. This is complemented by dual-flow path (DFP) dampers with continuous damping control (CDC); wishbone front/multilink rear suspension, much of it constructed out of aluminium; opposed 4-piston (front), 2-piston (rear) callipers for the 355/350mm brake discs; and vehicle-speed variable rack and pinion steering.
The bespoke carbon fibre exterior detailing is echoed in the Infiniti FX’s cabin by tailored panels of real black carbon on the doors and centre console. Highlights that would normally be silver chrome are treated to a special black chrome finish, while in true F1 style, Alcantara is used on the steering wheel and gearshift paddles. Special seats, with extra support, are covered in black quilted suede cloth finished with purple stitching and special “SV” logos. The material also features on the pillars, roof lining and sun visors. A metal plate on the centre console featuring the World Champion’s signature provides the unique finishing touch.
The luxury fittings, comprehensive features including Connectiviti+, one of the car world’s most complete and easily understood infotainment systems, and the FX’s award-winning range of safety technologies are all included.
Volumes and prices for the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel version are yet to be confirmed. www.infiniti.com