Does Honda Make A V8? The History Of Honda’s Bigger Engines

In the world of cars, engine performance and power output are significant factors that influence a buyer’s decision (although these days unless you’re a lottery winner the primary consideration is probably fuel economy – more on that and the relevance of minimising fuel consumption to Honda later in this article)

For decades, the V8 engine has been a popular choice among car enthusiasts due to its power and performance. In fact, to many car enthusiasts the venerable V8 represents perhaps the pinnacle of automotive engineering … “there is no replacement for displacement”, as the saying goes. Much like the old Top Gear team argued you can’t be a true petrolhead if you’ve never owned an Alfa Romeo, some would probably argue the same if you’ve never owned a V8.

Honda has a rich history in producing reliable and efficient engine technology and extracting more power out of smaller engines, particularly in a manner that allows a good blend of frugality and fun.

Although Toyota generally wins accolades in the reliability stakes, I reckon that Honda has the more interesting technology (or at least traditionally has had)

Honda has developed a wide variety of engines over the years, including their popular four cylinder engines used in many models In particular, Honda is famed for its VTEC technology which in its earlier iterations was a bit of a game changer in terms of allowing substantial power when needed at higher RPM, while also allowing the driver to enjoy a genuinely frugal, fuel-sipping experience when driven sedately – this technology also helping cars like the Honda/Acura NSX, DC2 Integra Type R and EK9 Civic Type R to mix it with more powerful and larger engined competitors. 

While Honda has been an innovator in compact and efficient engine designs, it is essential to acknowledge that this focus on efficiency and reliability may come at the cost of more powerful options. With an increasing global demand for environmentally-friendly vehicles, Honda is going to continue to prioritize fuel efficiency and hybrid technologies over larger, more powerful engines such as the V8. 

But does Honda make a V8 in their current lineup? Has Honda ever sold a V8 at all? 

In this article, I’m going to teach you what you need to know about Honda and the humble V8 and answer your questions. Keep reading to learn more about Honda’s forays (or lack thereof) into the V8 universe. 

History of Honda V8 Engines In Motorsport

Honda, a renowned Japanese automaker, has primarily focused on producing efficient 4-cylinder and (to a lesser extent) 6-cylinder engines throughout its history.

However, Honda has produced a couple of V8 engines for motorsport purposes. Here’s a quick run down:

In the 1960s, Honda ventured into Formula One racing and created the RA271, their first F1 race car. It featured a 1.5-liter V12 engine, but not a V8. I know this article is about V8 Hondas, but what’s interesting about the RA271 is that Honda fielded a V12 in an era when everybody else was doing V8s (Honda clearly has a bit of a track record for doing things differently). 

Later, in the 1980s, Honda’s interest in IndyCar racing led to the development of their first V8 engine. The 2.65-liter turbocharged V8 engine, known funnily enough as the Honda Turbocharged Indy V8, was designed for IndyCar’s rules and regulations at that time.

Another notable V8 engine by Honda is the HR (Honda Racing) series created for endurance races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The engine, specifically called HR09E, was a 3.4-liter naturally aspirated V8. It was designed to meet the performance specifications of the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.

  • RA271 (1960s): 1.5-liter V12, Honda’s first F1 race car
  • Honda Indy V8 (1990s): 2.65-liter turbocharged V8 engine for IndyCar racing, which was further developed in various iterations
  • HR09E: 3.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 for Formula Nippon and Super GT racing

Although Honda has mastered the art of producing V8 engines for racing, they have not introduced a production V8 engine for their consumer vehicles. Their focus on efficiency, reliability, and lower emissions keeps them committed to 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines, with an increasing use of hybrid/battery technology. 

The Only Production Honda With A V8 Engine

Honda has never made its own V8 engine for consumer cars. The largest engine Honda has fitted to a production car to date is the 3.7L V6 “J37” engine found in the likes of the Honda Legend (the first car to exceed the 276hp self-imposed ‘gentleman’s agreement’ limit for JDM cars), Honda Pilot and Acura TL.

However, there is one rare, obscure Honda that did come with a V8 – although it wasn’t a Honda-made unit.

In fact, the entire car wasn’t really a Honda at all. A Honda in name only, and nothing more. Allow me to explain. 

You might have heard of the Honda Crossroad, of which the second generation car is better known for its blocky styling (for what it’s worth, I think there’s some strong ‘future classic’ potential here)

In the early 1990s there was actually another Honda Crossroad, although this was in reality just a re-badged Series 1 Land Rover Discovery:

Available in some markets from around 1993-1998, the Honda Crossroad featured a 3.9L Rover V8, which is officially the only V8 engine ever fitted to a production Honda.

This “collab” (to use the modern language) came off the back of Honda’s part ownership of the British company, Rover Group.

Most of Honda’s input was supplying vehicles and engine technology to Rover that were then rebadged. However, as Honda didn’t want to develop its own proper 4×4 (and, reliability issues aside, the Discovery was a seriously competent off-roader and you still see them out working hard to this day) and so instead of lending cars to Rover they “borrowed” one in this instance. 

The V8 Honda Crossroad was never much of a sales success, and in the Japanese market was recalled at one stage due to a door locking issue.

However, if you want a production/road-going Honda with a bona fide V8 engine (even though it’s an old Rover option) this is your only choice!

Honda’s Approach to Engine Development

Honda has long been known for its innovation and pursuit of efficiency in engine development. This section will discuss their approach to engine design and the reasons behind their focus on efficiency and performance, as well as shed some light why a V8 engine is not a part of their lineup.

Focus on Efficiency

Honda has consistently prioritized fuel efficiency and reducing emissions in their engine designs. The company aims to create engines that strike the perfect balance between performance and minimum environmental impact. Over the years, Honda has made advances in technologies such as variable valve timing (VTEC) and direct injection systems to improve fuel economy while maintaining or even enhancing engine power.

Some examples of Honda’s fuel-efficient engines include their i-VTEC and i-DTEC series, which can be found across their range of cars, from compact models to larger SUVs. These engines are designed to optimize combustion and reduce friction, contributing to a more efficient use of fuel.

Extracting Better Performance From Smaller Engines

Despite the absence of a V8 engine in their lineup, Honda has managed to create engines with impressive performance characteristics. The automaker has a rich history in motorsports, particularly in Formula 1, and this experience has translated into the development of engines that deliver powerful performance for the road.

Honda’s performance engines, such as those found in their Type R and Acura models, incorporate various technologies that optimize power delivery and responsiveness. The company has developed high-performance four-cylinder and V6 engines that can compete with larger, less efficient V8 engines in terms of power output. A classic example of this is the first Honda NSX – while most of the supercar competition were using V8s, Honda developed a high output V6 instead that offered similar performance but superior economy and reliability. 

To summarize, Honda’s approach to engine development focuses on striking the right balance between efficiency and performance. Their fuel-efficient engines offer great power and responsiveness while minimizing the overall environmental impact. Although Honda does not manufacture a V8 engine, they have been able to achieve these objectives through their focus on innovation and the development of efficient, high-performing engines.

Alternative Powertrains and Technologies

While Honda does not offer a V8 engine (and with the increased focus worldwide on reducing emissions and cutting fuel consumption it is vanishingly unlikely that Honda would ever develop a V8 for road going cars) the company has focused on developing other types of powertrains and technologies. These alternatives include hybrid systems and electric vehicles, providing consumers with efficient and environmentally friendly options.

Hybrid Systems

Honda has invested significant resources in creating advanced hybrid systems to meet the demands of modern drivers. Their hybrid lineup is expanding, with vehicles like the Honda Accord Hybrid and the popular Honda Insight. These hybrids combine gasoline engines and electric motors for better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

The company’s hybrid technology, known as the Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD), utilizes a two-motor system consisting of an electric motor and a generator. This design enables seamless transitions between electric and gasoline power, optimizing performance and efficiency.

It’s almost certain that Honda will push hybrid vehicles more aggressively in the coming years. Here in New Zealand, Honda has recently announced the launch of more hybrid vehicles following the recent debut of the Jazz eHev. 

Electric Vehicles

Alongside hybrid systems, Honda has also ventured into the realm of fully electric vehicles (EVs). The Honda e is the company’s first all-electric offering, showcasing innovative technology and a modern design that riffs on some of the company’s timeless back catalog. I mean look how cute it is:

Honda’s commitment to electric vehicles is further demonstrated with their participation in various global partnerships, research initiatives, and collaborative projects, all aimed at accelerating the development and adoption of EV technology.

Recap – Is There A V8 Honda? 

In summary, Honda does not currently produce any vehicles with a V8 engine. In fact, Honda never has built a V8 for road-going/production cars. Their focus has instead primarily been on crafting fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly engines, such as their signature inline 4 (I4) and V6 engines found in many of their vehicles today.

The only exception is that in the 1990s Honda retailed a badge engineered Land Rover Discovery Series I, the ‘Crossroad’ (which was by all accounts a total sales flop and many of the sold examples had to be recalled for various fixes).

There is more chance of me being the next President of the United States than there is of Honda making its own V8 production engine for road-going cars. 

As the automotive industry is continuously evolving, Honda has been investing in new technologies to improve their vehicles’ performance, safety, and driver experience. This includes advancements in their hybrid and electric powertrains, which reduce emissions and energy consumption while maintaining competitive driving dynamics. One of the things I love most about Honda is the way they have always worked to get even better performance, economy and refinement from smaller and more frugal engines than many of their counterparts. 

While some automotive enthusiasts may seek the power and sound of a V8 engine, it is important to consider that Honda’s engine choices are a reflection of their commitment to environmental responsibility, fuel efficiency, and developing reliable powertrains. Look at cars like the Civic Type R that have always been able to keep up with the bigger-engined players, and oftentimes outperform them. 

There is a method to Honda’s no-V8 madness, in other words. 

Author

    by
  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

Leave a Comment