The standard Honda Civic Si sedan is one of our favorite new cars. The ride is comfy, the interior spacious and plush. Exterior styling is tastefully conservative, allowing it to blend with the crowd. It's equally suited to the open road or the morning commute. But then, should the need arise, the tachometer can wind up to 8000, transforming it into a screaming monster, eager to show off its stiff chassis, competent suspension and LSD-equipped six-speed transmission.
These Jekyll-and-Hyde traits work so well that the current Civic Si is perhaps the first version owners will opt to leave stock. In a Honda tuning world saturated with low-quality aftermarket parts, modifications are far more likely to be downgrades than upgrades. With this in mind, we were skeptically curious to see what the limited edition Mugen Civic Si sedan would be like.
For those who don't know, it's generally considered that Mugen is to Honda what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. It creates upgraded Honda parts, from shift knobs to Formula One engines. In Japan, Mugen-modified cars are even sold through Honda dealerships. These close ties with the OEM (and its rarity in the US) have made Mugen the Holy Grail for aftermarket Honda parts.
The whole sleeper thing has been thrown out the window. From the body kit, to the rear wing, wheels and exhaust, the car demands attention. And gets it. During the one week in our possession, it turned enough heads to keep local chiropractors busy for months. Most people didn't know what the car was, their faces reflecting statements like: "What the heck did you do to your brand-new car?" Others seemed intent on avoiding eye contact with us altogether. But the few who recognized the car as a Mugen Si were ecstatic to a degree rarely seen in the too-cool-for-school SoCal Honda scene.
The car looks good. It comes off better in person than in photos. As the sun goes down, the Fiji Blue Pearl paint with the Mugen gunmetal wheels really works. But there's just one thing that doesn't look right. It's too tall
While the Mugen suspension lowers the car by 0.6 inches over the regular Si sedan, the aggressive-looking body begs to go down at least another inch. And that's just the beginning of the road to modification that should be studied before buying one of these cars.
Other than the stainless steel exhaust (which is a TIG-welded work of art), the powertrain is the same as in the standard Si. We're not saying it's slow, but it could use a little more bite to match its beefed-up bark
A Mugen intake and header would be a good start. A supercharger or K24 bottom end would be even better. After that, you could call it a day-but anyone who's ever modified a car knows they're never really finished.
Our favorite part of the car is, oddly enough, our biggest point of criticism. While the ride height looks high for the car's racy lines, the suspension feels great.
The pimpy gold Mugen springs and red-bodied dampers improve handling performance over the standard Si, similar to the difference between an Integra Type-R and an Integra GSR. The car maintains a balance only found through OEM development, or with a company as closely connected as Mugen.
In our opinion, the standard Civic Si sedan is great. Upgrading it with the Mugen Si suspension would make it even better. But, if you're looking to build the mother of all Civics, one of the 1000 limited edition 2008 Mugen Si models would be a good start
2008 mugen civic si
Estimated Price: $30,000
Engine Displacement/Type/Valvetrain: 1998cc, in-line four, aluminum block and head, DOHC four valves per cylinder, i-VTEC
Claimed Crank HP: 197hp @ 7800rpm
Claimed Crank Torque: 139lb-ft @ 6100rpm
Drivetrain/Layout/Transmission: Transverse front engine, front wheel drive, six-speed manual
Curb Weight: 2945 lbs (est)
Weight Distribution (F:R): 60:40
Suspension (Front/Rear): Mugen sport strut, anti-roll bar (eight percent stiffer than Si)/multi-link, anti-roll bar (24 percent stiffer than Si)
Brakes (F/R): 11.8-in. vented discs, two-piston floating calipers/10.2-in. solid discs
Wheels (F/R): 18x7.5 Mugen NR forged aluminum
Tires (F/R): 215/40/18 BFG g-Force KDW