AUTO Honda


Conceived and designed by the engineers at Honda Performance Development (HPD) in California and designers from the North America Auto Design Division (NAAD) of American Honda; then built at Honda Automotive Development Center (ADC) in Ohio by the Honda of America Racing Team (HART); the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer places a 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged, electrified Honda V6 INDYCAR power unit and transmission under 2023 Honda CR-V Hybrid bodywork to create the “rolling laboratory” for the continued development of electrified technology by Honda and HPD.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer runs on Shell’s 100% renewable race fuel; and features world-leading Skeleton Supercapacitors and Empel MGU hybrid motor technology.

The Chromoly steel tube chassis of the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer is clothed in suitably “hybrid” bodywork designed by NAAD. From the beltline up, the Hybrid Racer utilized a standard production sixth-generation CR-V steel body, including the glass windshield, 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.

“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 then our amazing Digital Modelers made it work.”

The finished Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer is clothed in a one-of-a-kind wrap, designed by Lili Melikian, senior exterior designer. The eye-catching design contains a variety of “easter eggs” including ghosted images of the powertrain and INDYCAR SERIES circuits.

“The graphics were inspired by the hybrid powertrain, radiating from Honda Hybrid Blue to Honda Racing Red to symbolize the duality of the drivetrain,” Melikian explained. “While the ‘speed squirkles’ add a dynamic fun layer and showcase the playful side of Power of Dreams. Throughout the wrap, we have also sprinkled easter eggs like ghosted outlines of Honda-sponsored tracks and an overhead view of the engine that powers the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer.”

While under development, the project carried the appropriate code name “The Beast”, with looks reminiscent of the silhouette GT racing and Group B rally cars of the 1980s and ’90s. But the technology under the skin is strictly 21st century.

The Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer strengthens the connections between HPD, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Honda passenger vehicles; creates additional awareness around the new INDYCAR hybrid powertrain coming in 2024; showcases the fun and power available from Honda electrified powertrains; and spotlights the innovation, creativity and capabilities of both HPD and Honda Automotive Development Center.

Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer Specifications

  • Powertrain
    • Honda HI23TT 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine
    • Borg Warner EFR7163 turbochargers
    • McLaren Applied Technologies Tag 400i Engine Control Unit
    • Drive-by-wire controlled port throttle
    • Shell 100% renewable race fuel
    • Driver-activated Empel electric motor generator unit
    • Skeleton super capacitor energy storage system
    • XTRAC six-speed transmission; Mega-Line Assisted paddle-shift
  • Chassis and Bodywork
    • Chromoly tube frame chassis
    • New, 6th generation Honda CR-V Hybrid bodywork from beltline up
    • Standard Honda CR-V Hybrid windshield and greenhouse
    • Custom carbon fiber lower bodywork incorporating flared fenders
    • Butterfly half-cut doors provide access for driver and passenger
    • Radiator adapted by HPD from the Dallara IR-18 Indy car
    • Clamshell rear bodywork to display power unit and drivetrain
    • Custom downforce-producing front splitter and rear wing
  • Suspension
    • Front suspension from HPD-developed Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22
    • Rear suspension adapted from Dallara IR-18 Indy car
    • Brembo 380mm front brakes from Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22
    • Brembo 355mm custom rear brakes adapted to Dallara IR-18 suspension
    • Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 Ultra-High Performance Summer Tires
    • Front tires 285/35-20; Rear tires a massive 305/35-20
    • 2Elle Engineering 20×10.5 Front and 20×11 Rear two-piece alloy wheels

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