Honda 2&4 Concept
When Honda unveiled the production version of its RC213V-S earlier this year, some in the motorcycle press were let down. Instead of pushing the boundaries of sportbike possibility, Honda essentially put lights on Marc Márquez’s MotoGP bike and slapped on a $184,000 price tag. Bear in mind, this is something akin to Benz putting lights and an airbag on Nico Rosberg’s F1 car and selling it to any schmoe who can come up with the ducats. Now, imagine if said Mercedes was limited to the power of, oh, a CLA45 AMG. Because that’s how the RC213V-S will be sold in the U.S.—with a mere 101 horsepower. For about 1/15th of the V-S’s sticker, you can walk into your local Honda store and roll out on a CBR600RR, a bike making roughly the same amount of power from its showroom-fresh inline-four as the V-S produces from its most-mod-cons 999-cc V-4. Meanwhile, Kawasaki went and invented its own supercharger to huff its ridiculous—and significantly cheaper—H2 and H2R hyperbikes, the less potent of which makes double the RC’s power.
Criticisms aside, it’s seeming more and more like the V-S is a harbinger of things to come on the powersports side from Honda. When Cycle World’s Kevin Cameron asked Honda’s Yoshituke Hasegawa whether a regular-production sportbike, a World Superbike (the GT-class, production-based racers of the motorcycle world), and a MotoGP bike would all share a common architecture, Hasegawa answered, “We have at present a split between inline and V-4, but the V-4 revolution has begun.” We bring all this up by way of noting that a V-4 engine will feature prominently in Honda’s Frankfurt auto show concept.
Undoubtedly influenced by last year’s Volkswagen XL Sport, which was an XL1 with its diesel parallel two-banger and hybrid electrics replaced by the Ducati 1199 Panigale’s Superquadro V-twin, Honda is bringing some manner of open-wheeled car to Frankfurt. An open-wheeled car powered by its 999-cc V-4. Called “Project 2&4”, the concept was whipped together by Big Red’s motorcycle design center in Asaka and its auto design center in Wako. According to the company, it features a “cabinless” structure and offers “the freedom of a motorcycle and the maneuverability of a car.” When the photo arrived, it took two of us a little too long to make heads or tails of it. Then we turned it sideways and cranked up the lighting in Photoshop to better reveal the fender-free wheels and suspension. Like so:
Honda 2&4 Concept
It revealed itself as a motorcycle-powered Formula car for the street. We have, of course, seen Lotus 7 knockoffs powered by the Suzuki Hayabusa’s legendary inline-four. Formula SAE cars tend to run supersport-class engines, and last year, we spent a couple of days pootling around the desert in a motorcycle-powered, ground-borne Sopwith Camel. But it is the first time, off the top of our heads, that we can recall a modern MotoGP-derived engine being shoved into a car.
While there’s no way you’ll see the 2&4 at your local Honda store any time soon, it’s clear that Honda’s pushing the V-4-as-ultra-sporting angle. For car guys, it’s a neat thing to ogle and dream about never driving. For motorcyclists, it could very well portend a sea change in the way Honda’s sporting machines are powered.
Also on the docket for Frankfurt? The German premiere of the high-mobility office chair known as UNI-CUB Beta and the fully revised European Honda automobile line.