CR-V Hybrid Racer is Honda’s “wolf in sheep’s clothing”

Answering a question nobody asked—What would happen if Honda put an IndyCar engine in a CR-V?—please allow the company to present the CR-V Hybrid Racer, presumably ready for an SUV racing series that is yet to be contemplated, let alone announced.

Billed as “an IndyCar wolf in CR-V clothing,” the Hybrid Racer will debut at this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. As it is, the CR-V Hybrid Racer is expected to make several demonstration laps as it, uh, awaits the development of comparable 700-horsepower Nissan Rogues, Kia Sportages, Hyundai Tucsons, and Mitsubishi Eclipses

Meanwhile, since it isn’t April 1, here are some actual, real-life details: The Honda CR-V Racer uses a twin-turbo, 2.2-liter V-6 engine, which likely revs to a series-mandated 12,000 rpm. It uses the IndyCar’s mild hybrid unit and Xtrac paddle-shifted sequential six-speed transmission.

“When the Design Studio learned about this project, we had already established a great relationship with Honda Performance Development through other projects, including the Acura ARX-06,” said Dave Marek, executive creative director at Acura. “So this was—pardon the pun—‘Right in our wheelhouse’. It became a ‘what if?’ of keep the CR-V 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,” Marek said, “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.”

Indeed, the design took a lot of manipulation. “From the beltline up,” Honda says, “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.”

Front suspension is from the HPD-developed Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22, while rear suspension is adapted from a Dallara IR-18 IndyCar. It has Brembo brakes front and rear, and wears Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 Ultra-High Performance Summer Tires—285/35-20 up front, 305/35-20 out back. In all, it looks ready for the Pikes Peak hill climb, but no mention of that is made in the press materials.

Besides this weekend’s unveiling and on-track demonstration at St. Pete, look for the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer to make appearances at other IndyCar events, including the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 14-16); the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix (April 28-30), and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (June 30–July 2).

“This project vehicle is an IndyCar beast in Honda CR-V sheep’s clothing,” said David Salters, president and technical director for HPD. “It epitomizes Honda’s fun-to-drive ethos, showcases electrification and it just rocks our car culture roots and racing heritage!” he said, with an exclamation mark. The St. Pete IndyCar season opener is set for March 3–5.

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    These should race in a new class called Super TC! Doesn’t Renault have a new mid-engine CUV? These would be awesome, hybrid rear-drive econoboxes!

    At least let us see this one do Pike’s Peak…Please?!?

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