What is it?Honda’s limited edition Civic Type-R Mugen, one of only 20 being built, each priced at a mighty £38,599. This is the first time we’ve driven the proper production version, rather than a prototype.Technical highlights?Engine gets a new air intake system, pistons and stainless steel exhaust, different cams and a higher compression ratio. Peak power is up 39bhp to 237bhp, torque by 15lb ft to 157lb ft, and the rev limit is raised 300rpm to 8600rpm. Brakes, springs, dampers, wheels, tyres are also upgraded, while the LSD comes from the Championship White.What’s it like to drive?The Mugen Civic Type-R is, quite possibly, the most exciting hot hatchback ever made. Forget the ridiculous body kit, the gaping exhaust pipes, the ugly slab of auxiliary gauges slapped on top of the dash that reflect violently in the windscreen. All it takes is a decent thrap on a challenging road and you’ll be completely and utterly hooked. No, the headline figures don’t add up. It’s the way the Mugen feels, sounds and goes about its business that makes it great. The changes ratchet up the whole manic impetus of the motor in the VTEC zone.
The result is a riot with throttle response sharp enough to shave a peach, a truly fierce rush for the red line above 5500rpm, wonderful mechanical smoothness underscored by a crisp, snarling soundtrack, brilliantly-stacked gear ratios and arguably the slickest gearchange on the planet.How does it compare?Mega engine and gearbox, then, but the lowered, stiffer, Yokohama-shod chassis isn’t quite so polished, lacking the pliancy and fluency of, say, the Megane 250 Cup. But so long as the road (or track) is reasonably smooth it can summon even more cornering pace.Anything else I need to know?The downside is being seen in a car that looks as if it’s crashed through the front of a tuning accessory shop and come to rest with the entire window display attached. Drive it and you really won’t mind. The Mugen is a weapon, simple as that.
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|Engine||In-line 4cyl, 1998cc|
|Max torque||157lb ft/6250rpm|
|Top speed||150mph (limited)|