Deep Orange 9 is our kind of school project.
Most University projects tend to be a bit of a chore, generally involving some form of data gathering, collating and a final presentation of some niche topic that only your lecturer would find interesting. If this sounds familiar to you then, like us, you clearly studied at the wrong place. Instead of some boring essay, 19 students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, in Greenville, South Carolina, got to build a 600-horsepower Honda Civic instead.
Called Deep Orange 9, this Civic is no over boosted drag strip special either, it is a complex vehicle equipped with a hybrid powertrain, all-wheel-drive, four-wheel steering, and even a semi-active suspension setup. The project also received sponsorship from Honda R&D Americas Inc, the Aisin Group and JTEKT North America, which gave the students the financial backing to create something rather special.
The entire vehicle was redesigned from the ground up, a boosted K20 2.0-liter motor now sits where the rear seats used to be and sends 400 hp to the rear wheels. An electric motor, situated under the hood, transfers 200 hp to the front wheels, all controlled through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
The aim of this build was to maximize both fuel economy and performance, two traditionally disparate ideologies. Yet the team has managed to offer a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy thanks to their hybrid setup and its ability to regenerate lost energy through the braking system. In addition, Deep Orange 9 is also capable of running in fully electric mode.
The interior is slightly less passenger friendly than before though, thanks to that gasoline engine sitting behind the driver as well as a battery pack that now rides shotgun. The dashboard and door panels have also been stripped out to reduce weight as much as possible, aiding this racing hybrid to offer performance comparable to a modern rallycross car. With a claimed 0-60 mph time of a mere two seconds, it should be right up there with the very fastest ones.
The exterior has also received a makeover with an aggressive widebody kit and huge rear wing complemented by matt-black paintwork and orange decals. The car took two years to complete and has proven itself in real-world testing although the attached video doesn't exactly show it pushing its performance limits just yet. What’s next for the Clemson University students? A Ford Motor Company sponsored Deep Orange 10 autonomous vehicle prototype of course.