Honda Turns The CR-V Into An 800-Bhp Beast! (w/VIDEO)

SUVs can be seen in every segment of the car market nowadays and now, Honda has even developed a SUV racing car with a hybrid powertrain. While SUVs have been used in competition before, this particular one is a special one-off project vehicle which is a sneak preview of the Honda’s technology to come.

Developed by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm of Honda’s North American subsidiary, the CR-V Hybrid Racer will make its debut at the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. In 2024, hybrid power units will officially debut in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing electrification to the event.

“This project vehicle is an INDYCAR ‘beast’ in Honda CR-V ‘sheep’s clothing’,” said David Salters, President and Technical Director for HPD. “The CR-V Hybrid Racer is our ‘rolling electrified laboratory’, to investigate where the talented men and women of HPD and Honda could go with electrification, hybrid technology and 100% renewable fuels. It epitomizes Honda’s fun-to-drive ethos, showcases electrification and it just rocks our car culture roots and racing heritage! We present the CR-V Hybrid Racer – aka ‘The HPD Beast’!”

Conceived and designed by the engineers at HPD in California and designers from the North America Auto Design Division of American Honda, with construction done at the Honda Automotive Development Centre.

The standard production body of the latest CR-V (above) is mounted on a steel tube chassis with the lower half section of carbon-composite to create the CR-V Hybrid Racer (below).

The Chromoly steel tube chassis supports a standard production CR-V steel body, including the glass windscreen, windows and even the sunroof. The lower half is of carbon-composite construction, incorporating a massive front splitter and louvered, flared fenders. An equally large rear wing and butterfly half-cut doors on either side for the driver and passenger complete the bodywork.

The front suspension comes from the HPD-developed Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22, while the rear  suspension is adapted from Dallara IR-18 IndyCar. Brembo brakes are used at each 20-inch wheel with tyres sized 285/35 in front and a massive 305/35 at the rear to maximize grip.

The CR-V Hybrid Racer uses a 2.2-litre twin-turbocharged, electrified Honda V6 INDYCAR power unit and XTRAC 6-speed transmission within the latest CR-V Hybrid bodywork. The powertrain uses world-leading Skeleton Supercapacitors and Empel MGU hybrid motor technology, and runs on Shell’s 100% renewable racing fuel.

“When the Design Studio learned about this project, we had already established a great relationship with HPD through other projects, including the ACURA ARX-06,” said Dave Marek, Executive Creative Director.  “So this was – pardon the pun – ‘right in our wheelhouse’.  It became a ‘what if?’ of ‘keep the CRV as is’, but add some serious attitude with parts indicative of an Indy car. Then it was back to my childhood of never building model cars right out of the box, by manipulating areas with DTM or Japanese Super GT cars in mind. I basically mocked up the idea in 3D and then our amazing Digital Modelers made it work.”

The finished racing SUV has a one-of-a-kind wrap an eye-catching design. This contains a variety of ‘easter eggs’ (surprises) including ghosted images of Honda-sponsored tracks and an overhead view of the engine that powers the CR-V Hybrid Racer.

“The ‘speed squirkles’ add a dynamic fun layer and showcase the playful side of ‘Power of Dreams’. The graphics were inspired by the hybrid powertrain, radiating from Honda Hybrid Blue to Honda Racing Red to symbolize the duality of the drivetrain,” explained Lili Melikian, senior exterior designer.

While under development, the project was referred to by the appropriate codename of ‘The Beast’, with looks reminiscent of the Group B rallycars of the 1980s and silhouette GT racing cars of the 1990s. The technology under the skin is, however, very much 21st century.

Click here for more Honda videos at The Piston Show.

Covering the motor industry since 1977 and still at it!

Related Articles