Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer Packs 800-HP IndyCar Engine in the Back

It’s a one-off engineering exercise from Honda and will make an appearance at several IndyCar races this year. Chances are, you’ll hear it long before you see it.

byJerry Perez|
Builds photo


When an 800-horsepower Honda CR-V race car by Honda Performance Development was teased a couple of weeks ago, many asked, "Why?" I asked, "Why not?!" And after talking with HPD President Dave Salters, it's clear that it exists because they can. Well, technically, he said this crazy idea became a reality because even in these rapidly changing times, "Honda's all about car culture and racing heritage."

First, the basics—if you can even call them that. At the back, there's a 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged, electrified Honda V6 that produces 800 horsepower. The power unit is paired with an XTRAC six-speed sequential transmission. Both components are plucked from an IndyCar race car, though the hybrid system isn't the same unit that'll be running in the series come 2024. Instead, "HPD Beast" runs a Skeleton Supercapacitors setup and Empel MGU hybrid motor.

But that's almost beside the point because, well, it's an IndyCar engine in a CR-V, y'know? Also, have you heard this thing?

“This project vehicle is an IndyCar ‘beast’ in Honda CR-V ‘sheep’s clothing’,” said Salters. "It's 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."

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While it's an IndyCar party in the back—even the rear suspension is adapted from a Dallara IR-18 Indy racer—it's mostly NSX GT3 business up front. The front suspension is borrowed from an Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22, as well as the 380 mm front Brembo brakes (355 mm rears). The front tires measure 285/35-20, while the rears are a massive 305/35-20.

The race car's body features actual CR-V Hybrid bodywork from the beltline up (lol), though the rest was custom-made for the project. The carbon body houses a custom Dallara IR-18 radiator and rocks enormous fender flares, spoiler, splitters, and butterfly half-cut doors to allow access into the cabin.

I asked Salters if an "electrified rolling lab" such as this one could eventually evolve into a fully electric project, especially as the world's sports cars transition into the battery-electric world.

"Looking further down the road: at some point, I can imagine it will morph into fully electric. It’s a lab. A racing e-lab," said Salters. "It's designed in a way to morph it and have fun with it. Electrification is up for grabs, it's the new frontier.

"Electrification to an engineer is like the beginning of automotive again. It’s freedom, it lets us play with everything again. There’s this new world out there that’s attracting a new generation of engineers."

As amazing as this all sounds, this one-off build is exactly that. A Honda spokesperson confirmed that the Japanese automaker isn't previewing a sporty CR-V, CR-V Type R, or something wilder. It's simply an engineering exercise—and a really cool one. The car will be on display at several IndyCar races this year, where it'll also make on-track appearances. It'll debut next weekend at the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida. Sadly, the Indy 500 isn't on the list so far, so hopefully, I'll catch a glimpse of it elsewhere this year.

Until then, I'll be dreaming of taking my kids to school in the HPD Beast. I'm pretty sure those roundabouts would be an excellent way to test its downforce; or at the very least, burn some rubber.

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