underplaying it. Heck, I even got a pretty ropey Accord into Shed.
Now I could begin with the absurdly stiff ride, the seat that's a little too high and the ludicrous new price of £38,599 but that would be missing the point. Let's talk about the engine. Over a conventional FN2 Civic Type R, the Mugen received new cams, pistons, intake and exhaust tweaks plus an ECU remap. Power is 240hp at 8,300rpm. Torque? Who needs torque when you have revs? OK, it's 157lb ft. At 6,250rpm...
Even at low revs, the Mugen's incredible response and willingness is exciting. There's so little inertia to the way it revs, a trick even the best turbos haven't yet managed to replicate. It comes as a quite a surprise in fact.
Second to third as quick as possible is just brilliant too, the shift weight, speed and throw beyond reproach. Honda is known for great manuals and this one doesn't disappoint. It drops the revs right back into the VTEC zone (yo) and you're off again but all too soon the motorway traffic is looming and it's into sixth to cruise with them.
'Cruise' is a loose term when associated with the Civic Mugen. Not only is that wild 2.0-litre spinning at about 4,000 revs, people are looking. A lot. The old Type R was not a shy car in any form, but with a sod-off rear wing and gleaming Championship White paint it attracts a great deal of attention. Not much of it is positive. To some B-roads...
The Mugen feels built for a track, the uprated suspension lacking the compliance of the best hot hatches that work so well in Britain. I have no doubt it would be superb on a circuit as the grip just feels phenomenal and the upper reaches of the rev range would never be left. Those fleeting experiences of holding the brakes in second through a bend to then explode out the other side will remain for a while though. It's spectacular.
Given only 20 were ever made for the UK, it's not surprising to find no Civic Mugens for sale. Especially as, a year after launch, four remained unsold and the 2.2-litre model was developed to encourage buyers. I also have no doubt that a new Civic Type R would be miles faster than a Mugen down a road and on a track. But that engine alone ensures the Mugen has very, very special place in the annals of fast car history and also in this little fanboy's heart. What a magnificent thing.
Unfortunately we didn't get any audio of the Mugen. See here for an old Autocar vid. The noise certainly comes across!
[Photos: Ben Lowden]