Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer: 800-hp ‘Beast’ will get the kids to school early

Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer: 800-hp ‘Beast’ will get the kids to school early

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GREENCASTLE, Ind. — The driver engages first gear, steps into the throttle, and silently pulls away. How novel, I think to myself. Halfway down pitlane, a massive jolt kicks me in the back, and the sound of a million bees starts buzzing away. This is the Honda CR-V Hybrid Racer — nicknamed “The Beast” by Honda — and it is one seriously wild engineering exercise.

I’m at Putnam Park Roadcourse, just a 45-minute drive outside of Indianapolis, and one day out from witnessing the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500. Inside this mid-engine “CR-V” is about as close as I’ll get to the driver’s seat of an Indy car, though, as that noise behind me is emanating from the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 that Honda supplies to the series. Combined with Skeleton Supercapacitors and Empel MGU hybrid motor technology, it makes an eye-watering 800 horsepower.


Accelerating out onto the track, I’m pinned back in my seat as the familiar sound of an IndyCar ferociously tickles my eardrums. I do mean ferociously, as this CR-V is loud and not for the faint-hearted. The reverb and acoustics of the SUV body style create a chamber of sound inside the cabin that any IndyCar fan would gush over — just remember your hearing protection.

We quickly reach cruising speed, and then it’s on to those massive Brembo brakes. Honda yanked the front brakes off of the Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22 racecar, and the rear brakes were adapted from the Dallara IR-18 IndyCar suspension. From the passenger side, they feel rather effective, and though the Honda Performance Development test driver was yelling about them getting a little hot before we set off, he sent it hard anyway.

Interestingly, Honda fitted street-appropriate rubber to this monster of a CR-V — it has Firestone Firehawk Indy 500 summer tires sized 285-section-width in front and 305s in the rear. Honda went with street tires, since they allow for easier show-boating and sideways antics — a number of IndyCar races this year will see the CR-V Racer take parade laps. It’d be far quicker on slicks, but just like so much else about this car, it’s all about the optics.