Honda Project 2&4 concept (2015): as minimal as a car can be?

Published: 16 September 2015

 ‘Project 2&4’ concept to debut at Frankfurt
► Cabinless design and ‘floating’ driver’s seat
► Powered by Honda RC213V MotoGP engine

Looks like someone in Honda’s design department might have taken that memo about downsizing a little too seriously. This is the Project 2&4 concept, a ‘cabinless’ sports car that Honda says combines ‘the freedom of a motorcycle and the manoeuvrability of a car’ – hence the name.

Project 2&4: motorcyling on four wheels 

The Project 2&4 concept is the winner of an internal design competition Honda set within its worldwide studios, involving 80 engineers and designers from both motorcycle and automotive studios. 

The winner was Martin Petersson from Honda’s Asaka motorcycle design centre – so it’s perhaps unsurprising to see a number of motorcycle design and engineering cues. The central aluminium backbone structure, for example, is similar to a motorbike frame, leaving the carbonfibre floor below to concentrate on aerodynamics and thus allow the 2&4 to do without any visible wings.

There’s also a central fuel tank and those are bike-spec Öhlins adjustable dampers you see at each corner, poking out between the gorgeously finished double wishbone suspension. The brakes are bike-sized, too. With an exposed ‘floating’ driver’s seat, the 2&4 promises aims to recreate the open-to-the-elements thrills of riding a ’bike – with the added advantage that you can’t fall off.  

Single-seater? Nope. And it’s not necessarily left-hand drive, either…

The project is being shown as a single-seater, but don’t let that fool you. The fairing/hard tonneau on the opposite side is removable, as is a section of the floor; unbolt these items and the mounting point for a second seat are revealed. Now try finding a brave soul to fill it…

Since the steering and the paddleshifters are drive-by-wire (meaning there’s no physical connection, just an electronic link), you could conceivably switch from left-hand drive to right-hand drive, too. Although this would mean moving the adjustable pedal box…

Having the pedals adjust instead of the seat is another weight-saving measure, incidentally. The clear Perspex instrument panel doubles as a wind block. And don’t think the drive-by-wire is a joke; Honda has been experimenting with cars equipped with steering like this for years.

MotoGP power

Sticking with the motorcycle theme, the concept is powered by an engine borrowed from the road-going version of Honda’s current MotoGP bike, the RC213V. A 999cc V4, it features a rather fearsome 212bhp at a heady 13,000rpm (with a 14,000rpm redline). In the Project 2&4 it breathes through a custom pie-cut titanium exhaust system and drives the rar wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission – one of the elements borrowed from Honda’s car business. In the Project 2&4 it runs through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Given that the 2&4 weighs only 405kg, it’s hardly going to be slow…

Nor is it going to be cheap – should Honda deign to build the thing (here’s hoping, right?) – since the donor bike is set to cost £250k, and a large percentage of that price is surely invested in the engine. 

Putting price (and crash regulations…) to one side, it sounds like the Project 2&4 will be potent enough to take on the likes of Caterham’s 620R and the Ariel Atom. No-one’s talking official figures – it’s just a concept, after all – but suffice to say 0-62mph will surely be in the sub-3.0sec league. Top speed is less of a concern, for this is much more about the excitment of cornering with your backside suspended mere millimetres above the ground. Not to mention the wind rushing up your trouser legs.

Neat details on the concept include the gap in the back of the seat, which is there to make sure you feel the heat and vibration from that titanium exhaust, and the fact that the tyres have been made to look used. An affectation, perhaps – but a cute one.

As for that red and white livery, it’s a nod to Honda’s 1965 RA272 F1 car – neat timing given that October 2015 marks 50 years since its first Grand Prix win. Certainly better to look to the past than McLaren-Honda’s 2015 season so far… 

The Honda 2&4 concept makes its debut at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Click here for our A-Z guide of the cars to watch at IAA 2015.

Honda 2&4

By Matt Bell

Former digital intern at CAR