At the 2004 Tokyo Auto Salon, Mugen stunned showgoers with the Fit Dynamite concept. The Dynamite had everything we wanted from a tuner car, with a built 256hp K20A from a DC5 Integra Type R, a widebody kit that looked straight out of the BTCC, and every inch of it was slathered in a rich Firecracker Red. At last year's show, Mugen followed suit with another Firecraker Red seductress-the Legend Max. The Max was a JDM Honda Legend (our Acura RL) crammed with no less than a 590hp MF408S Le Mans V-8.
For this year's Auto Salon Mugen capitalized on Honda's reluctance to offer some kind of home market Si-variant with the Civic Dominator (if you look hard enough you can see our event coverage in this issue-turn a few pages and you won't have to squint as hard). The Dominator is a Civic sedan with a supercharged K20A making 296 hp finished off in-you guessed it-Firecracker Red. The years of Mugen's Auto Salon booth visits have begun to instill in us some sort of Pavlovian bloodlust at the mere sight of this color.
Positioned just behind the dominating presence of the Dominator turntable at this year's Auto Salon was what looked like another version of the Fit Dynamite finished in a much less sinister Shining Pearl Orange. Aside from the "Hiya, how ya doing?" orange that was in stark contrast to the "You know you want me" red there was more to this Fit that separated it from its hot-blooded siblings and also made it feel more like a Mugen car than any of those other concepts.
Mugen (AKA M-Tec Co., Ltd.) is a tuner like no other. A common misconception draws parallels between Mugen and such in-house "OE tuners" as Nismo, TRD, and Mazdaspeed. Truth be told, Mugen is a stand-alone aftermarket tuner that specializes in Honda engines-some of which just happen to be to F1-spec. This particular Honda tuner was an F1 engine supplier from '92-'99, garnering three wins in the most technologically sophisticated (and surely the most pompous) motorsport in the world. Mugen's magic Honda touch may have something to do with the fact that it was founded by Hirotoshi Honda-as in the son of Soichiro. Although Hirotoshi's father was also the founding father of Honda the automaker and the tuner have never established a formal affiliation.
Which brings us back to Mugen's little orange Fit Spec-D (as in Dynamite). Mugen has always been about sensible cars, tuning cars that show dramatic performance improvements across the board while still preserving that unmistakable Honda DNA (no doubt because of the shared DNA between the patriarchs of Mugen and Honda). The Fit Dynamite, much like Mugen's other Firecracker Red fantasy trips, was an exercise in engineering might, a concept car, a "what if" approach to a question that was never asked. But this Shining Pearl Orange Spec-D is not that kind of a car.
As much as we like the idea of the K20A in the Fit Dynamite, it is a far too preposterous proposition in terms of cost, time, and ease of installation, not to mention that the added power is offset by the horrendous weight distribution caused by the extra heft of .5 liters of displacement. The Spec-D uses the stock 1.5L engine with only minor mods such as a Mugen Special air intake, Dual Silencer exhaust, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulator, and fuel pump. But there is one major mod on this L15A: an Ogura Special supercharger that bumps output to 143 hp @ 5800 rpm with only 5.8 psi of boost.
A supercharger on a Mugen car seems so wrong, like a supermodel without a coke habit. Mugen is known for its "N/A is best" philosophy even though the company may have first gained prominence with the Honda City Turbo. According to our new best friend in Asaka City, Naoki Tashiro of M-Tec's marketing section, "The supercharger is regarded as one possibility, but not to be recognized as a kit for sale. If there is any possibility it will be sold as one part of the Spec-D." Yes, Mugen Sports fans, these guys are hoping to sell the Spec-D as a complete car.
These sentiments were echoed in Mugen's TAS info sheet. "Mugen has a dream to produce a 'Special Honda car' as a complete car on the real streets, which casts a reflection of our accumulated technologies and passion as an engine maker, a motorsports constructor and a Honda tuner as well."
With this in mind it's easy to see how the Spec-D is an evolved version of the Dynamite with more potential to make it to market. The Dynamite's excessive 282mm big Brembos have given way to the Spec-D's Mugen Special Hi-Performance rotors, pads, and Micromesh lines which maximize the performance of the factory stoppers. While the Spec-D's Special aero kit is 20mm wider than the factory Fit it is 30mm less so than that of the Dynamite. The lack of a Flat Bottom Silencer Diffuser and the fully functional carbon fiber brake cooling intakes on the front of the Spec-D also make this one easier to live with on a daily basis. Surprisingly the Spec-D retains the 17-inch sized wheel package although it flosses Mugen's GP wheels in a Gun Metallic finish. Inside the Spec-D's upgrades are subtle but sweet with the factory seats reskinned with a Mugen Special covering and the "Characteristic Three-Eyes meter" atop the center stack of the dash.
Whether Mugen will sell a turn-key Spec-Dm remains to be seen but the tuner already offers a wealth of parts that should be compatible with the USDM Fit. Be it a complete car or one with a fine selection of tuning bits you can't go wrong by choosing Mugen Power.
Our JDM number 2 go kart racer, Tetsuya Ogushi, used to rock a Fit back in the day and he supplied us with some tasty Fit tidbits:
"The Japanese Fit comes in either FF or AWD. But the Fit's AWD (we call it real time or daily AWD) is different from the AWD of the Lancer Evo and Impreza (known as full time or sport AWD), which are for driving on rallies and closed race tracks. Fit's AWD is only for driving on bad roads (snowing, raining, etc.). The FIT AWD rear suspension is different from the FF which means we can't put FF-spec coilovers on the AWD model.
Here are the chassis and engine codes: DBA-GD1 is 1300cc (L13A engine code) FF; GD2 is 1300cc AWD; GD3 is 1500cc (L15A) FF; GD4 is 1500cc AWD.
The Honda Access Modulo line offers many items for the Fit such as aero kits, wheels, sports suspension, sports muffler, interior trim pieces, seat covers, neon interior lighting, and Gathers Honda Multi Car-AV System. In addition to Mugen many other tuners make parts for the Fit: Cardinal Points, Cusco, HKS, ings, J's Racing, Power House Amuse, Showa, Spoon, Tanabe, Tein, Top Fuel."
HOMETOWN Asaka City, Saitama, Japan
DAILY GRIND Lord and Master to JDM Honda geeks the world over
POWER 145 ps (143 hp) @ 5,800 rpm; 19.0kg-m (137 lb-ft) @ 4,800 rpm
UNDER THE HOOD Ogura Special supercharger; Mugen Special air intake, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulator, and fuel pump, Dual Silencer exhaust, oil filler cap
DRIVETRAIN Five-speed manual
STIFF STUFF Mugen Special Sports Suspension springs and shocks
ROLLERS 17x7JJ +48 Mugen GP Gun Metallic wheels; 205/40R17 Bridgestone tires
STOPPERS Mugen Special Hi-Performance rotors and pads, Micromesh lines
OUTSIDE Mugen Special aero kit, Fit rear wing; Shining Pearl Orange paint
INSIDE Factory seats with Mugen Special covering; Mugenaluminum shift knob and sports pedal set;Mugen Characteristic Three-Eyes meter with tachometer, boost meter, and digital speed meter