Sifting through hundreds of photos of highly modified builds from mom-and-pop shops as well as highly decorated tuning firms is the norm as Tokyo Auto Salon closes out for yet another year. Among the display cars - some of which help set the trends for the new year, while others carry questionable choices that often have social media bashing without mercy—you'll find some OEM offerings that sometimes carry a peek into the future or a vision of what "could be." Honda has often displayed concepts and mildly massaged chassis at the annual event, and this year it was an S2000 and a 6th generation Civic that had people talking.
The foundation for these two prototypes is Honda Modulo. The name refers to a specific technology but represents a line of accessories that apply to various models. Conceived in 1996 by Honda Access Sales company, the parts are intended to define a new standard in accessories, according to the group, and this isn't the first time Honda Modulo has produced demo vehicles for display at big events like TAS.
It's been two decades since the release of the S2000, and from the very beginning, the 2-seater was a huge hit with Honda fans as well as outsiders—many of which had never even considered purchasing a Honda prior to the sporty convertible's release. There have been far too many examples to count, but it's a well-known fact the high-revving, RWD dynamo has been one of the most popular Hondas of all time to modify over the last 20 years. To celebrate its anniversary, Modulo outfitted this AP1 with a few changes that you can't see, like the updated suspension, as well as the ones you can't look away from, like that modern front bumper.
Substantially wider than the original bumper, at least visually, the Modulo version features scalloped sides that carry a few new body lines. Take a glance back at the stock AP1 bumper as compared to this version and you realize just how blunt the AP1 cover actually was. The area under the headlights is extended and aimed downward, rather than forward, giving the S2K a slightly longer feel and granting a more "sunken" look to the headlights. The body line between the hood and headlights that carries from the fender is still there, now more pronounced, with a subtle sweeping line toward the license plate area on the Modulo bumper. The additional effort, according to Honda, offers improved aerodynamics by reducing airflow to the wheel wells to avoid drag, along with achieving better stability in a straight line.
Gone is the trio of bumper grills, now replaced by a single grill that features a pass-through on its main portion, while the side areas are in fact blocked off. Now, before you complain that you're sick of the fake grills being offered by OEMs, remember that the AP1 side grills were also blocked off, as were the AP2. The updated bumper certainly carries an aftermarket flair, but the fitment, being OEM, is just too good. Although Modulo offers their own wheels, in this case they chose Advan RZII in gloss black with a silver ring that plays off of the two-tone bumper nicely.
Inside you'll find a fairly original interior with a just a few updates. The radio door features an S2000 silhouette along with a 20th anniversary logo that also shows up on the floormats, and the original AP1 red leather seats get a red alcantara center portion. We were surprised (and pretty happy) there weren't an over-abundance of 20th anniversary logos applied to the exterior. In fact, other than the display license plate and the logo etched into the rear wind deflector, those who don't know the S2000 well would never even notice the difference. Depending on who you ask, some of these anniversary parts may in fact creep into overseas dealerships for purchase, and if you know the right people, accessing them from the U.S. won't be impossible.
"Honda Civic Cyber Night Japan Cruiser 2020" just rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it? We can only surmise this once glorious EK9 Type R is an exercise in self-discovery and a flex of creative muscle, with Tokyo Auto Salon acting as the ultimate platform for the unveiling and social media ultimately serving as judge and juror.
We assume the approach was a more futuristic version of Honda's first Type R model Civic with an urban flair. The most noticeable "upgrade" are the lights both front and back. Almost completely hidden by body-colored covers, the outside edge of the headlights are surrounded by an LED border.
In the rear, the shape of the taillight is also outlined in LEDs, but the lenses themselves are painted over, and a bold, black plastic bezel connects both lights, running right through the tailgate where the original license plate bucket one resided (the plate was relocated into the bumper). Perhaps an ode to the EF? We're not quite sure.
Below the space-age taillights rests a new bumper that's been fitted with a piano black plastic grill that curves heavily and fills the majority of the bumper cover, while a lower lip caps off the rear end. Pie-cut piping redirects the exhaust toward the rear driver's side where a recessed portion of the aforementioned lip allows the exhaust finisher to exit. Above the hatch is a stout spoiler that wraps over the edges of the window and kicks upward at its end point.
The front bumper keeps the CTR's upper opening, though additional metal was added to the hood in order to straighten the body line and resize the grill. Unlike the Modulo S2000 update, the EK9 display maintains a very square structure in the center portion. The same curved piano black grill material is used up front, but on either side additional openings that look to have been plucked from a Voltex S2000 bumper now find a home. The lower portion of the bumper, which is integrated into the grill itself, is broken up by a color-matched center section.
Larger wheels and tires were expected, but rather than producing their own version or leaning on the aftermarket, like the AP1 above, the Honda parts bin was raided and a set of rollers from the Insight were painted black with pink center cap logos. The noticeably slimmer and much longer mirrors look to possibly be from Honda's S660.
With so much going on with the exterior, we expected a wilder interior experience, but in reality the changes aren't all the dramatic. In the center of the dash is a touchscreen monitor and a phone dock.
Slightly updated Recaros and another nod to the S660 in the digital gauge cluster are about the extent of the changes.
When we first heard about Honda's "Civic EK9 reimagined" demo for TAS, we were beyond excited. Putting attention toward undoubtedly one of the most beloved Civics of the entire 10-generation span is a big deal. The result is something we couldn't quite wrap our heads around. Keep in mind, it's just a concept—essentially an extension of a group of ideas, but in terms of execution and opportunities, we feel like this one fell a little short.
To go to the trouble of grafting an S660 cluster and touchscreen into the interior along with a phone dock similar to those unreliable hotel alarm clocks, and not address other areas, feels like a miss. On the outside, the futuristic goals feel outdated and lost in a shuffle of textures and angles that don't match stride with the EK platform. The ideas and general direction would seem better suited for something like a Fit or CR-Z. On a petty note, the fact that the new Civic logo they used on parts of the interior, wheel caps, and headlight treatments didn't match the script on the strange tailgate plastic bar kicked our OCD into high gear.
Regardless, having so much attention from the OEM put toward two of Hondas most beloved is a rare treat, and we'll keep our fingers crossed on the potential release of Modulo's S2000 anniversary equipment.