Home » The Insane Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer Crams IndyCar Power Under A Familiar Crossover Silhouette

The Insane Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer Crams IndyCar Power Under A Familiar Crossover Silhouette

Hpd Honda Cr V Hybrid Racer

Every so often, automotive engineers and designers are let off their leashes to produce something spectacular. For instance, the Aston Martin Victor is a stunning one-off take on a reborn AMV8 using One-77 bones. The Mazda Furai was one of the most breathtaking concepts the world has ever seen. Now Honda’s HPD racing division has taken a CR-V and gone one step beyond completely mental. Say hello to the CR-V Hybrid Racer.

Hpd Honda Cr V Hybrid Racer

Let’s start with the most familiar bit: From the beltline up, the CR-V Hybrid Racer is a stock, all-metal CR-V. The windshield is an off-the-shelf item, the greenhouse is shared with your mum’s next car, and the roof panel contains a cutout for a sunroof. Of course, that sunroof is now blanked off to make room for a massive roof scoop, but putting heavy steel right up high on a tube frame sounds rather strange given that everything below the beltline is some sort of composite.

Hpd Honda Cr V Hybrid Racer

Billionaire doors? Check. DTM fever dream fender flares? Check. A rear clamshell virtually the size of an entire rowboat? Check. An aero package that’s just one or two notches below the madness of Feras Qartoumy’s time attack Corvette? Check. This is a CR-V like you’ve never seen before in all the best ways. It makes the cartoonishly aggressive previous-generation Civic Type R feel a bit boring by comparison, a stellar feat for a Honda machine.


Things get even more outlandish underneath when you realize that this CR-V’s daddy is an IndyCar and its mother is an Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22. The 380mm front brakes and the front suspension are lifted directly out of Acura’s racer, while the rear suspension, radiator, and engine are from a Dallara IR-18, the spec chassis that every IndyCar team must run. Unsurprisingly, that engine is built by Honda, one of two powertrains allowed in the series. The 2.2-liter V6 may be relatively small, but it screams to more than 12,000 rpm and gets assistance from two turbochargers to produce up to 700 horsepower in top race trim and the buzz of ten thousand furious hornets. Oh, and it runs on sustainable fuel, which basically makes this an eco car. I think. Look, let’s not get bogged down in environmental details, what’s really important is that this is a race car disguised as a humdrum crossover, and that’s just flat-out cool.

engine bay

Of course, this CR-V is still a hybrid, but not like any roadgoing Honda hybrid on the market. Instead of a battery pack, this thing feeds electricity from a motor/generator unit to a bank of supercapacitors. Whenever the driver feels the need for a little extra thrust, they can press a button and discharge that jolt of electricity right to the electric motor. It makes this one-off closer in concept to a Lamborghini Sian than a Toyota Camry Hybrid, a very heartwarming fact for anyone fond of using electrification to go even faster.

Hpd Honda Cr V Hybrid Racer

Perhaps the most bonkers thing about the CR-V Hybrid Racer is that if two of the donor CR-V’s VIN plates are still intact, this would be considered a street car in certain jurisdictions. It even rolls on street tires, decent-for-the-money Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 summers. Mind you, the only way this CR-V will see a McDonald’s drive thru is if they set one up mid-way down Laguna Seca’s Corkscrew, or along the pit wall at the Toronto Indy, or on China Beach at Mid-Ohio. Aside from a handful of TBA appearances, this one-off CR-V is expected to show up at IndyCar race weekends and that’s about it. Still, hearing the furious V6 noises ricochet off Armco and condominiums is going to be one hell of a spectacle.

(Photo credits: Honda)

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16 Responses

  1. A marketing stunt to get us excited and remind us that they can develop high performance power units for race cars so that we’ll go to showrooms excited to buy…a regular hybrid CR-V?

    Isn’t this supposed to serve the same purpose of a halo-vehicle? Why is there nothing exciting in the showrooms besides a CTR that no-one can buy without ridiculous ADM? I think it would have been prudent to at least wait until the Integra Type-S hit dealer lots.

  2. Make a CUV into a mid-engine station wagon. A funny utility vehicle.
    The basic concept has been done dozens of times, the Renault Espace and Ford Transit Supervans come quickly to mind, this time Honda.
    Always crowd pleasers.

    1. The market a while ago: lots of wagons, minivans

      Enthusiasts: lol wagons and minivans are lame family haulers I’d never be caught dead in one!

      The market now: people don’t want wagons or minivans anymore so we’re not going to sell them anymore.

      Enthusiasts: wagons and minivans are actually the greatest things ever made and everyone who doesn’t agree is a mouth breathing troglodyte

      The market in 10-15 years: everyone wants (X) so we’re not going to sell crossovers anymore

      Future enthusiasts: crossovers were so useful and amazing I can’t believe they aren’t making them anymore 🙁

      …my tongue is in my cheek for sure but there’s a degree of sincerity to it.

      1. You are not wrong. Much like wearable fashion, cars designs are similar in that the trends come and go and nostalgia is strong. Expect to see the Pontiac Aztec again in 20 years.

  3. I really wish they’d actually make a performance SUV of some sort. I know it brings immense pain to many enthusiasts, but a performance SUV is a fantastic solution if you enjoy spirited driving but have a family or need the space for other reasons. They’re also great compromises for you non enthusiast SO (ask me how I know…).

    Ones that don’t cost an arm and a leg really don’t exist right now other than my car, which in all honesty is really just a hatchback with a slight lift. For all intents and purposes it really isn’t an SUV. I’d love to see Honda make a variant with the CTR powertrain or the 2.0 from the old turbo Accord (they’re different, right? Idk I’m not a Honda fanboy). It’s an underserved market right now…and as cool as it would be to get an X3 M40i, SQ5, or something like that for my next car $70,000 is just more money than I want to spend…and more than most people are capable spending.

    Give us an HRV or CRV Type R, you cowards. And pair it with the 10 speed auto while you’re at it. Lots of us 30-40ish enthusiasts who grew up when the Fast and Furious series/Japanese tuning were at the peak of their relevance in American culture would buy it. We all get older and many of us have to give up our tiny cars sooner or later…

    1. Most crossover designs are tall and frumpy, so if your aim is performance you’ve already lost right there.

      How about we just go back to offering more body styles than ones designed around carrying large amounts of useless crap and being easier to get into for people who are completely out of shape?

      1. Except you haven’t already lost right there. Technology has improved to the point that you aren’t making the same performance sacrifices that you used to be. Hell my car (the Kona N) finished Car and Driver’s lightning lap ahead of cars like the Elantra N, WRX, GTI, even the TLX Type S and CT4V. Some of the German SUVs are lapping the Ring as fast as supercars from a few years ago.

        At the end of the day some people actually need the extra space, the hatch setup, etc. We don’t live in the enthusiast heaven where every road is empty, everything is manual, etc. You’re making a slight performance compromise for sure, but when you’re driving a Toyobaru you’re making compromises too…mainly that you can’t fit anything in them.

        Choosing a car is about figuring out which compromises you can live with. Many (even most) of us can’t live with something that doesn’t have space. People have dogs, kids, etc. A pure sports car is never going to work for a lot of us. What sucks is that I’d personally rather have a performance wagon than a performance small SUV and think they’re less compromised in general, but they don’t exist in our market unless you can afford to drop six figures on a car.

        I think the enthusiast BOBBY BOUCHER CROSSOVERS ARE THE DEVIL groupthink gets a little out of hand. A lot of them suck and a lot of folks can get by with less, but many people can’t and I think it’s shortsighted to write off every performance oriented crossover because a lot of them are very good.

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