Amid the revelries of an eggnog-soaked holiday party somewhere in the heart of Detroit, Infiniti revealed its plans to bring an all-new, compact, lightweight 3.0 liter V6 twin-turbo engine into the American market. Wait, is this Nog extra strong or did we just get offered what Infiniti enthusiasts have been pining for all along?!
A full line of twin-turbo VR-series engines are indeed coming our way, and thanks to lighter and more compact cylinder blocks, two performance levels will be available. Both 300 and 400 horsepower versions will be offered, and while stats on both engines show that they share many of the same technologies, these powerful and precise engines will play a growing role in what Infiniti refers to as “the growing presence of the brand globally.”
According to Infiniti, these new engines have been “developed to deliver optimal power and torque for an engine of its size, together with optimized fuel efficiency,” even when the high-output version lays down 350 pound-feet of torque in the 1,600-5,200 RPM range. In comparison, the “milder version” offers drivers 295 foot-pounds of torque in the same RPM band. While the 300 horsepower motor has a single water pump, the 400 horsepower variant utilizes two water pumps for even more effective heat management.
The more powerful engine also features an optical turbo speed sensor for encouraging a 30% power boost by allowing the turbine blades to spin faster, in the process returning fuel efficiency gains that top 6.7% consistently. This gives this latest VR engine a best-in-class power-to-efficiency ratio, which is fantastic to hear considering Nissan/Infiniti V6 engines have never really been known for great gas mileage in real world conditions.
In order to reap these rewards, advanced engine timing control systems were put in place for improved responsiveness, along with a new electric motor to assist with valve timing, boost throttle response levels, and better control cylinder combustion. This all gets slapped around by a pair of trigger-happy turbochargers with optimized turbine blades for greater revolution speeds. With virtually zero turbo-lag claimed, we can’t wait to try this powertrain out on the track.
Speaking of zero turbo-lag, the VR engines get a new turbine speed sensor, which allows for both turbos to spool up to 220,000 RPM during steady conditions, and up to 240,000 RPM under transient conditions. Infiniti says this is higher than any V6 created to date, and with a water-cooled intercooler, this setup lowers air temperature extremely fast, reducing turbo lag for faster acceleration. But power isn’t the only thing worth noting here; this system is also quite compact, allowing for a shorter airflow charge to hit the turbo. By force-feeding more cold oxygen into the engine at a rapid pace, power and efficiency are more balanced. Coupled with Infiniti’s clever electronic wastegate actuator (for more controlled excess exhaust flows), this motor becomes a beast that’s equal parts violent and evolved.
And in keeping with that balance, Infiniti’s engineers have found ingenious ways to boost the driving experience to a whole new level, like a new direct-injection system that allows a far more precise, finely atomized fuel spray pattern in the combustion chamber, encouraging smoother engine acceleration, and more power depending on how heavy one’s foot gets. Boasting gains that are both the cleanest and most fuel-efficient V6 Infiniti has made to date, the new VR motor will be one wildly energetic option.
Compact and action packed, the new powerplant is 19% smaller in capacity than earlier Infiniti V6s, and benefits from a new special coating along the engine block and integrated exhaust manifold. Infiniti calls it “mirror bore coating,” and it supposedly allows pistons to move more freely inside their cylinders, while reducing mechanical friction levels by up to 40%. During assembly, each cylinder wall gets treated with a thermal arc spray coating, and after it hardens this “mirror-smooth” component boosts performance like never before, also shaving 3.8 pounds of unnecessary weight over the outgoing engine. Weighing in at only 429.5 pounds without turbos, the motor is actually 39.1 pounds lighter than the naturally aspirated engine it replaces. And even with the addition of two turbochargers, an intercooler, and necessary add-ons, it tops out at 486.3 pounds.
Due for release sometime in late 2016, the twin-turbo VR engine will be manufactured at the Nissan powertrain plant in Fukushima, Japan, with the first application of the engine landing in the next Infiniti Q50 sports sedan. We loved the current Q50, and can’t wait to try out both VR-series engines. Hopefully they’ll show that good things actually do come to those who wait.