Honda: let’s make a bike… No! A car… No! etc, CAR+ November 2015

Published: 25 September 2015

► Meet the Honda 2&4 Concept
► The car that thinks its a bike
► A track car to rival the Atom 

We’ve a sneaking suspicion that someone important at Honda has seen the Ariel Atom and thought: ‘How cute! Let’s do that properly.’ Meet Project 2&4, the winning entry in an internal design competition intended to show off the company’s combined car and motorbike expertise – and an utterly uncompromising flyweight performance car, powered by the engine from a £148,000 superbike.

Honda bike designer Martin Petersson is the man responsible. ‘The brief was quite simple: you have to use the V4 RCV engine, and you have to have four wheels. That’s it. Growing from that engine I started thinking of this layout, and together with the car [design] side tried to find a unique, exciting package. This came out.’

‘This’ is mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive minimalism taken to the extreme. Based around an aluminium central backbone, it weighs just 405kg and is powered by a race-spec (though road legal) 1000cc four-stroke that makes 212bhp, revs to 14,000rpm and breathes through a pair of titanium exhausts. It rides on Öhlins adjustable bike dampers and uses bike brakes, but a DCT ’box and a car differential. The only protection for the driver comes from a wind deflector that doubles as the instrument cluster.

 ‘It’s basically your butt, a little bit of padding, some carbonfibre and then the ground,’ says Petersson, who is especially pleased with the seat. ‘It has an opening in the lower back area so you get all of the vibration and heat from the exhaust!’ Roasting your arse is apparently part of the authentic motorbike experience he was aiming for. More impressive is how simple it is to add a second seat on the other side (remove fairing, bolt on to pre-existing mounting points); drive-by-wire controls make rhd conversion a doddle. 

It’s so beautifully resolved you begin to wonder if Honda might actually build it. ‘This kind of backbone frame, we do it on the bikes all the time. Okay, so it’s a bigger scale, but it’s not madness,’ Petersson smiles. ‘Should I answer with the company slogan, The Power of Dreams? These things, they start somewhere. I mean, we make *!x*ing jet airplanes!’

Is designer Petersson happy with his work? ‘I’d like to simplify a few things. Proportion wise and concept wise, I think it’s great! Sorry, I shouldn’t say that about my own stuff – what a jerk!’

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count