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Honda’s 2 & 4 concept will combine elements of cars and motorcycles

Honda will bring a concept vehicle with the unorthodox name 2 & 4 to the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next month, and the moniker won’t be the only unusual thing about this latest Honda concept.

The 2 & 4 is the product of a collaboration between Honda’s automotive and motorcycle design teams, and is the winner of a global internal design competition the Japanese firm recently held among its various units.

Honda says the concept features a “cabin-less structure” that makes for an experience somewhere between riding a motorcycle and driving a car. Honda claims it combines the “freedom of a motorcycle and the maneuverability of a car.” That seems to indicate that the 2 & 4 will be largely open, leaving the driver exposed to the elements.

That in turn sounds a lot like the recent spate of track cars, like the Ariel Atom, KTM X-Bow, and Vuhl 05. All of these cars sacrifice creature comforts for performance, and while they are road legal in some countries, they’re not exactly what you’d call everyday cars.

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The 2 & 4 will be powered by the same engine used in Honda RC213V MotoGP racing bikes. That’s a 1.0-liter V-4, which produces over 230 horsepower in racing form. Depending on how light the car is, that could make for a very entertaining drive. A nimble, minimalist car with a small, high-revving engine would make a nice counterpoint to today’s bulky mainstream production cars.

If the 2 &4 really does turn out to be a track car, there’s no telling what Honda’s plans for it could be. Given the limited market for theses highly-specialized vehicles, and mainstream carmakers’ typical squeamishness about liability issues, a Honda track car wouldn’t seem to have much chance for production.

But as a concept, it will probably help Honda restore its performance image. For a while, Honda had a reputation for building some of the nicest-driving mainstream cars around. That’s not quite the case anymore, but models like the Civic Type-R and Acura NSX do show that Honda is once again interested in performance. It would be great if Honda could imbue more of its regular models with some of that verve.