TORQUE GT ● BLOG
Up until recently Honda steered away from turbocharged power, keeping to their origins of high revving engines. The Type R badge was the ultimate expression and it all began in 1992 with the legendary Honda NSX-R. A chain reaction was started and what followed was the 'Power of Dreams!'
Blessed with superb handling the DC2 Integra was the second car to adorn the Type R badge and was an instant hit with journalists and owners worldwide. Followed by the cult classic EK9 Civic in 1997, Honda were building a name for producing proper driver's cars...
In the 10 years that followed the world had seen an array of Type R models including the second generation NSX-R, the DC5 which replaced the DC2 & the EP3 which followed the EK9.
Today we are focusing on Civics. The EP3 was a huge success for Honda, being the first Civic Type R to be sold outside of Japan and built in the UK. At the time it's competitors, some of which were turbocharged, couldn't get close to this 197bhp, VTEC hatchback. The chassis was fantastic, and for the money it was hard to find a more thrilling car to drive.
Following on from the EP3 came the FN2 in 2007 with it's space age looks. The radical cosmetics still look fresh today twelve years after it's release. The UK FN2 had big boots to fill after the hugely popular and dynamically superb EP3. Sadly it came up a little short...
Heavier and only 1bhp more powerful than the EP3, arguably its biggest downfall was the less sophisticated torsion beam suspension setup. The outcome was slightly underwhelming. It's still a great car but Honda fans seem to generally favour the EP3 as a pure driving tool. Meanwhile in Japan, Honda were busy cooking up something far more spicy... The JDM only FD2 Civic Type R!
This truely was Honda at the top of their game, the FD2 is often regarded as the finest incarnation of the Civic Type R. For the first time the Civic Type R was sculpted as a 4 door saloon rather than a 3 door hatch. The car is heavier but the broader wheelbase gives the FD2 improved stability when cornering at high speed.
Where the FN2 had 198bhp from it's K20Z4 engine the FD2's K20A unit produced a more potent 222bhp giving performance advantages with 159 lb⋅ft of torque peaking at 6,100 rpm compared to the FN2's 142 lb⋅ft at 5,600 rpm. Honda quoting the FD2's mid range as 10bhp greater.
Fitted with the slick six speed manual transmission synonymous with Honda, the FD2 shared a few ingredients with the FN2. However, further enhancements such as a helical LSD made a huge difference when cornering. As mentioned above, the other major advantage was the FD2's independent rear suspension rather than the FN2's torsion beam configuration. With statements from Honda such as '25% more rigid than the facelift DC5 Integra Type R' (a car not known for being sloppy) the FD2 literally blew our minds upon its release back in 2007!
Nevertheless as exceptional the FD2 Civic Type R was, Honda's performance brand Mugen thought they could improve it even further. Produced in a limited run of 300 exclusive cars, all in Milano Red... The Mugen RR was born!
The engine was uprated to 237bhp with 161 lb⋅ft torque at 7,000 rpm. Special Mugen parts such as uprated camshafts, exhaust system and ECU all help contribute towards this result. The K-series engine certainly feels more energetic. It feels raw and punchy, almost B-series in it's behaviour.
The 15bhp increase may not sound a lot, but the rev needle races to 8000rpm notably quicker than a stock FD2. The RR feels like it has a far greater power advantage, but its the dramatic weight loss programme that's largely responsible for this sensation. Thanks to carbon fibre bumpers, an aluminium bonnet and less sound deadening the RR weighs 1,095kg's, 165kg's less than the standard FD2 weighing 1,260kg's.
At a quick glance you'd be forgiven to think that these cars look much the same but start to inhale the finer details and you realise how different the Mugen RR and stock FD2 are. The black 18 inch Mugen wheels come equipped as standard.
The car sits 10mm lower than the stock FD2 with Mugen's own dampers & springs. There's a lower lip kit, big rear diffuser and a more aggressive angle on the rear wing just to name a few, plus the obvious smittering of Mugen RR badges.
The normal FD2's interior is a pleasant place to be with plenty of focus on the driver. The Type R bucket seats are purposeful but the Mugen RR goes a few steps further with Recaro SP-X racing carbon backed bucket seats, which truly are a work of art!
Overall a Mugen RR is an FD2 turned up to 11, everything is more hardcore with proof of lapping race tracks around the world notably quicker than the stock FD2.
If you prefer high revs to forced induction you could argue the Mugen RR as one of the greatest expressions ever created!
Watch 'Honda Civic Mugen RR' on our YouTube channel...