That's a serious Civic – and it's a hybrid, with four-wheel steering.

Students at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, have developed a 447kW Honda Civic racer dubbed Deep Orange 9.

The concept is part of an annual project for graduate students at the American university, which has seen cars like the Mini Deep Orange 7 and Mazda Deep Orange 3 developed.

This time around, the 19-strong student team has developed a hybrid powertrain capable of handling the rigours of rallycross. According to the team, its system is 30 per cent more efficient than a regular internal-combustion race engine, but still shoves the car to 60mph (97km/h) in 2.0 seconds flat.

Regenerative braking helps recharge the battery, and also minimises wear on the conventional brake discs, while there's four-wheel steering to get the car turned into tight, gravel hairpins.

“Deep Orange 9 was a platform for Clemson’s students to develop a concept vehicle that fuses Honda’s challenges to create a carbon-sustainable society while providing customers joy and freedom of mobility,” said Duane Detwiler, director of Honda R&D America strategic research operations division.

“We also believe these students can make significant contributions as future HRA associates in helping Honda realise its long-term vision for mobility.”

The goal of these projects is to give students hands-on, industry-relevant experience in their chosen fields. Volkswagen Australia does something similar with its apprentice program, which has recently led to the creation of the ART3on.