The Honda Civic Type R FN2 is a bit of a bargain these days. Budget £6k and you’ll bag yourself a brilliant hot-hatch. While the looks are slightly bulky, it’s got that brilliant K20 engine at its heart. Plus, it’s got excellent handling, despite what people say about its lack of independent rear suspension.
What are we doing here, then, with a car that’s worth upwards of five times this amount? And that’s even if you find one for sale. Let’s quickly straighten something up. There are two “Mugen” editions. The car we have here is the full-blown model with specific suspension, brakes, wheels, exhaust, body kit and of course the custom-built engine producing 240bhp.
This is not to be confused with the Mugen 200. That was a limited run of cars with a different body kit, new wheels and finished only in Championship White. The Mugen 200 produced the standard 198bhp and feature many of the standard FN2 components.
Check out our FN2 buyer’s guide.
Mugen Civic Type R FN2 changes
What we have here is Mugen Euro’s efforts to produce a thoroughbred using motorsport expertise at its heart. It’s safe to say that this is a product you and I love. However, this isn’t something your average joe would care for, and I like that. It’s also worth mentioning that only 20 of these were built, making it uber rare.
The changes made to the Mugen Civic Type R FN2 were pretty extreme for a car that was already good out of the box. First up we have an uprated engine. It now produces 240bhp thanks to a set of Mugen pistons, camshafts, exhaust, intake and a trusty ECU remap. In total, power increased 20% with a jump of 10% in torque, too. This also happens to be the first time a Mugen built engine has featured outside of Japan. That goes to show the uniqueness of this FN2.
Up next is the suspension. Mugen developed its own system replacing both dampers and springs. The ride is lowered slightly, but the dampers have been wound up to 10 on the stiffness scale. The brakes are new, too, featuring 4-piston mono-block racing calipers and 310mm Mugen front slotted rotors / discs as well as Mugen pads to help fade.
The wheels are different, too. Instead, Mugen created its own 18inch GP forged alloy wheels finished in gun metal. Inside, the gearshift has been shortened for quick throws and customers had the option to remove the rear seats for a harness bar complete with harnesses to the front bucket seats.
On the outside, the car was treated to its own unique bodykit, which is said to improve downforce and thus overall handling.
First things first, every journalist that has driven this car has complained about how stiff it is. For me and you, this isn’t a problem. We all drive cars that are on coilovers and polybushed so we know an unforgiving ride when we’re presented in one.
The Mugen Civic Type R FN2 isn’t any different; it’s focused, razer sharp and brilliantly precise. Handling is this car’s secret weapon; CTRs have and always will handle well. However, Mugen has upped the levels of grip here thanks to that revised suspension. Not to mention the limited-slip differential and of course the Yokohama A048s. In fact, I don’t recall driving a front-wheel drive car with as much precision as the Mugen does.
Throw it into a corner and the front end bites, you can induce understeer if you push too hard but realistically if you do you’re doing it wrong… VTEC comes in harder than I’ve experienced before. The revised engine with new camshafts can only be described as savage; it almost feels boosted as you climb past 5500rpm, rather than the subtle-but-definitely-noticeable regular VTEC system that we’re used to.
The problem with that is that while the LSD does a great job in the corners, it undoubtedly suffers with torque steer through the wheel and snatches left and right trying to find grip. It’s OK when you’re prepared for it, but if you try say 2nd and plant your foot, you’ll start to push into the next lane if you can’t careful. That sense of drama adds another layer of character that is missing in new hatches, though, and you begin to love its flaws.
On the note of VTEC, the noise… that new Mugen exhaust harmonises the 2-litre engine; it sounds aggressive with a hint of rasp while it barks eagerly to the limiter, which you have to bash (sorry Honda, it’s the law). Thankfully, a quick chat with the engineers confirm that even with the extra power going through the engine, they’ve never had to take it apart for work since it was born.
Mugen Civic Type R FN2 verdict
This car is the perfect hot-hatch. The engine is brilliant in its delivery, comfortably faster than most and the sharpness of its steering beggars belief. But would you want to own it? That’s a tough question. Given its rarity, the temptation to preserve an example rather than drive it would be strong. Therefore it misses the point entirely. This is a car that’s meant to be driven, and driven fast.
Trying to find a genuine Mugen Civic Type R FN2 for sale today is near on impossible. Prices are going to hover around the same as a new FL5. That leaves you wondering whether it’s good enough to tempt you away from the new era of hot hatch from Honda.
As a fan of brilliant NA motors, my heart tells me it’s the Mugen all day long. The way it makes you feel when nudging that near 9k rpm limit. The way it switches cams so aggressively at 5500rpm and the way you can connect a set of corners so intricately makes you feel special. But in all honesty, in today’s world the FL5 is the better all-round car, so the sensibility in me says go with the new car.
But to hell with being sensible. This car screams like the newer VTEC engines can’t. It’s raw, aggressive and in your face. I’m picking the Mugen FN2 and I’m willing to say it’s one of the best Hondas the UK has ever received.