2011 Frankfurt Motor Show: Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel Version

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 14, 2011

Infiniti has confirmed that the special edition FX that was developed according to Sebastian Vettel’s vision has been created. This 414hp vehicle has enhanced aerodynamics, 21-inch wheels, and carbon fiber parts that reduce the weight of the FX by 101-lbs.

Infiniti built this vehicle, which is based on the V8 FX50S Premium, in only six months. What Infiniti and Vettel came up with doesn’t just look good, it has received brilliant aerodynamic changes.

Infiniti designers and engineers closely collaborated with Vettel and Red Bull Racing personnel for this version. To help Infiniti with this project, the RB7 was sent by Red Bull Racing to Japan. This FX edition has been lowered by about 0.8 inch compared to the standard FX. It also gets an Essence-inspired grille and a carbon fiber rear wing.

As a result, the coefficient of lift was improved by 30% and its coefficient of drag is lower by 5%. Carbon is used on the splitter, sills, front grille, mirror covers and rear diffusers. Its 21-inch wheels have a black and silver finish, offering a stylish and sporty look.

To boost its performance, a new exhaust system was attached along with reprogrammed ECU. These raised its performance by at least 30hp compared to the factory FX50S.

When we look inside, we see that added carbon fiber was used on the doors and center console. Alcantara was used on its steering wheel and its special seats have been given additional support and are covered in black-quilted suede with purple stitching and “SV” logos. Vettel’s signature is featured on a metal plate on the center console.

Interior Design

The central console and doors have a series of black carbon-fiber panels to match those of the exterior replacing the usual silver chrome. And in keeping with the F1 feel of the vehicle both the steering wheel and gearshift paddles are made with Alcantara.

The specially designed SV logo can be found on the exquisite black suede finished seats which come with extra support. The gorgeous suede lining also lines the roof, sun visors and pillars.

Finishing off the features is the World Champion's signature on the central console.

What makes Infiniti a remarkable manufacturer is its insistence on making all the finer things come as standard. So that’s why this vehicle comes with both the world famous Connectiviti+ infortainment system and the award-winning safety technology.


The FX is a synonymous with speed and performance and when F1's Sebastian Vettel asked for the maximum speed to be increased to 300 km/h, the staff at Infiniti jumped to it.

First things first, it turned out that not a lot was needed to be adjusted with a 5.0 litre V8 under the bonnet in order to reach those kinds of speeds.

The priority was to remove the speed limiter which restricts all FX vehicles to 250 km/h. With this out of the way, it was clear the car has enough performance in it to beat the top speed imposed upon it. However, some changes would be needed to produce an extra 30 PS on top of the already high 390 PS of the VVEL V8.

With the limiter gone, the next change was a new exhaust to free up some of the additional horsepower. Next the engine ECU was reprogrammed which surprisingly made it sound better than ever and delivered no difference to the response time or efficiency.

Aside from more power, it now has a longer drive ratio capable of delivering 300 km/h of Autobahn speed again to no ill effects when it comes to refinement. This change did result in a vehicle which is not quite as quick off the line as possible. But with 0-100 km/h made possible in 5.6 seconds, not even Sebastian Vettel could complain.

The last of the changes included stiffer springs and dampers capable of delivering even greater control for the FX50's sports chassis and allowing for the kind of precision essential in high-speed driving.

In essence, it turns out very little is needed to be done to the car in order to meet the requirements of the World Champion's challenge. This can be seen in any FX Sport as all S guises come with the dual-flow path dampers (DFP) and continuous damping control (CDC), aluminium wishbone front multilink rear suspension, pinion steering, a variable rack and back and front 2 and 4 piston calipers for the 355/350 mm brake discs.

The FX S comes with rear active steering, adding agility and increased stability, which is essential for a road car at these speeds.

Press Release


Just six months after the idea first surfaced, the Infiniti FX designed for reigning Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel is unveiled today at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. What began as a chat between the Red Bull Racing driver and Infiniti's Chief Creative Officer, Shiro Nakamura, at the Geneva Show in March is revealed, in concept form, as Infiniti's fastest car yet and, probably, the most exclusive crossover ever made.

With its sophisticated technology, lightweight components and features such as Rear Active Steering for maximum agility, 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. Changes including increased power, lower weight, derestricted top speed, longer gearing, increased downforce and lowered and stiffer suspension turn what is already a sports car among crossovers into a crossover supercar - the 300km/h reality of the World Champion's vision.

Infiniti's Corporate Vice President Toru Saito said: "The FX Sebastian Vettel version is unique and very much Sebastian's car. But at the same time it is a concept car for Infiniti globally."

Sebastian Vettel, 2010 Formula One World Champion and Infiniti Global Brand Ambassador

"I have been driving an FX all this year and it is a car I love. It fits my lifestyle perfectly and is great fun to drive. But of course, it could go a little faster...

"I drive a lot in Germany on motorways that have no speed limits and have enjoyed my FX around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Driving at high speed where safe and legal is part of my life. As well as a higher top speed I wanted even better stability in my FX, and that meant work on the aerodynamics. It is a tribute to the excellence of the standard FX that achieving all my targets required so few changes.

"This is the first road car I have helped develop. Usually I have hundreds of engineers building one car just for me. So it is fantastic for me to contribute to the design of a car. The result is an Infiniti I am very proud to have my name on. It is all I hoped for: 300km/h, plenty of downforce – and I can still fit my mountain bike in the back. Plus it is totally exclusive – and as an Infiniti driver, that's important."

Design and aerodynamics

As Sebastian says, the first priority for his ultimate FX was to give it more performance. However, whether on the racetrack or the road, speed is just one part of the mix that goes to make a world-beater. All the car's systems, and in particular the aerodynamics, must be up to the task. In the FX Sebastian Vettel version they are.

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 more distinctive, Essence-inspired grille, the most obvious change is the addition of a carbon rear wing. Tests show that it delivers everything that its looks promise – and Sebastian sought – in terms of 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). Boosting downforce while simultaneously cutting drag is one of the concept's major claims to fame. Even the door mirror housings have been shaped to increase downforce.

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 – just like an F1 car's rain light.

The wheels are 21-inch black multispoke alloys with silver rims, designed exclusively for this car; they don't just look the part but also save weight over the standard 21-inch FX50 wheel. At 2049kg, the 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.

Shiro Nakamura, Infiniti Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer

"We are always keen to listen to what our customers have to say about our cars, whoever they are. Equally we are always keen to show how individual our cars are, and how personalization can subtly alter their character. Making the perfect FX for Sebastian was the ideal demonstration of this.

"It was at this year's Geneva Show that Sebastian first suggested to me that we collaborate on making his perfect FX. So we haven't had long, but with very clear objectives we have been able to realize his ideas in a very satisfying manner."

Mechanical changes

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 first job was to free the car 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.

No radical engine reworking was necessary to gain the extra 30PS that takes the 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. And it sounds better than ever.

In addition to the extra power is a longer final drive ratio to deliver 300km/h Autobahn speed without any detrimental effects on refinement. The longer overall gearing means the car is not as quick off the line as it could be – but at 5.6 seconds for 0-100km/h, two tenths of a second ahead of the standard car, no one is complaining. Least of all Sebastian Vettel.

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. Essentially, however, making an FX to the World Champion's specification required no major changes. Like any FX in sporting S guise, the concept features dual-flow path (DFP) dampers with continuous damping control (CDC); the same wishbone front/multilink rear suspension, much of it constructed out of aluminium; opposed 4-piston (front), 2-piston (rear) calipers for the 355/350mm brake discs; and vehicle-speed variable rack and pinion steering.

Rear Active Steering, an important ingredient in any FX S's blend of agility with stability, plays a key role in ensuring handling fulfils the World Champion's requirements for a road car.


The bespoke carbon fibre exterior detailing is echoed in the FX's cabin by tailored panels of black carbon – real, not appliqué – 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. As standard of course. Infiniti believes that no one should be forced to pay for expensive extras.

Not even World Champions.

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