Automobiles

​Honda's latest concept is part car, part motorcycle, totally rad

Project 2&4 combines the body of an open-wheel race car with the high-revving heart of a MotoGP racing bike.

Honda's open-wheel racer is probably the most bare-bones debut at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Editors' Note:We've updated the article with images from the floor at the Frankfurt auto show and more details about the concept's pico projector head-up display.

Honda's two-wheel and four-wheel racing roots come together in Project 2&4, a conceptual racer that combines the look and handling of an open-wheel race car with the open feel and high-revving heart of a racing bike.

Project 2&4 is powered by Honda's RC213V competition motorcycle engine, which we've already seen in action in the RC213V-S sport bike . This is a MotoGP motorcycle racing engine that's been modified to run on public roads. The 2&4's 999cc, four-stroke V-4 boasts a screaming 14,000rpm redline and makes its peak 212 horsepower (215 PS) at an only slightly less lofty 13,000rpm. The engine's 87 pound-feet of torque (118 Nm) is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed DCT transmission.

The concept wraps that engine in a lightweight, compact chassis that resembles an open-wheel race car or oversize go-kart. Project 2&4 weighs a scant 893 pounds (405 kg) and has an extremely low center of mass. The overall footprint is 10 feet long (3,040mm) by 6 feet wide (1,820mm), giving the concept a wide, planted look.

I got a closer look at Project 2&4 at its Frankfurt debut and noticed that, rather than a traditional instrument cluster, the concept uses a pico projector to cast a digital interface onto the back of a translucent piece of plastic before the driver, creating a sort of head-up display. Showcased here is speedometer data, a live rear camera feed, and a track map similar to what you'd find in a game like Forza Motorsport . However, I could barely see the graphics indoors at the show, so I'm fairly certain they'd be invisible under sunlight.

One of the most interesting bits of Project 2&4's design is its "floating seat" cockpit design, which suspends the driver's seat (the only seat) just inches above the asphalt. This open configuration is designed to combine the feel and freedom of driving a motorcycle with the grip and characteristics of a low-slung race car. More importantly, it looks amazingly fun.

Honda hasn't officially announced plans to manufacture or race Project 2&4, but with its simple formula and dramatic design, I'm tempted to break out a welder and build one of my own. Be sure to check out the rest of CNET's coverage of the 2015 Frankfurt auto show for even more exotic concepts.