The Civic Type R Mugen is hands down one of the hottest hot hatches ever created. And we are not just talking about the way it looks, though its styling certainly is as brawny as a cage fighter. Only 20 of these über exclusive Type Rs will be created – all hand-built in the UK, where we also became better acquainted with Honda’s super hatch. Mugen is Honda’s crack motorsport team responsible for tuning the company’s F1 engines and for prepping Honda’s stonking NSX for the Super GT Championship, Formula 3 and Nurbugring 24 Hour. To create the Type R Mugen (“Mugen” translates to “ultimate” by the way) the company analysed every component of the three-door Civic Type R – and then proceeded to develop one of the quickest normally-aspirated front drive cars in the world.CHANGE OF PISTONSThe real star of the Mugen show is undoubtedly the specially tuned 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine under the Championship White-vented bonnet. Power has been bumped up by a very decent 20% to 177kW courtesy of new camshafts and a modified intake system, while torque has been boosted by 10% throughout the rev range. A change of pistons also helps by increasing the compression ratio, and breathing is improved by fitting a custom stainless steel exhaust system and Mugen airbox. And should you like, the ECU map can even be tailored to suit your individual driving style. Mugen has gone to great lengths to give the Type R the show to match its go. On the outside this Type R is treated to a massive wing (big enough to put any Scooby STI to shame) which increases downforce at speed to improve stability. The front and rear skirts have also been replaced with road-scraping composite items and at the front the car gets a new glossy black grille emblazed with the Mugen emblem. GOING FURTHER: If the 'basic' Mugen doesn't do it for you then Honda can supply a 'track pack' to spice things up. Not quite hardcore enough for you? Fear not. Honda will happily sell you an optional Track Pack which includes stripping the cabin to its bare essentials, bolting Recaro racing seats down in front, fitting a composite blanking panel to reduce weight, adding data recording equipment, fixing some water and oil temperature/pressure gauges to the dash and shoeing it with track-ready road-legal rubber. The standard Type R’s suspension was already very firm and in the Mugen that has been moved up another few notches closer to the “completely uncompromising” mark. You will definitely want to give pock-marked and pot-holed roads a wide berth, but on the brilliantly smooth blacktops of the Millbrook proving grounds the new suspension set-up shines. Honda has completely revised the suspension which now employs custom-made springs and dampers along with the limited slip diff, and you really notice the difference. There isn’t a trace of body roll, the nose is always pointy and ready to peel into the next corner, and the beefy steering has plenty of feel.TRACTION? NO PROBLEM Push the Mugen hard and around 6000 r/min it gets a whole breath of fresh air with an urgent punch and a wailing engine note as it races towards the 8600 r/min red line. The Mugen likes to be driven hard and high in the revs. Traction is never a problem (largely thanks to the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres) and chances are you will run out of guts long before the Mugen starts losing grip. Braking is also no problem; Mugen has done a great job with the uprated brakes that are now gripped by bespoke four-piston mono-block racing calipers.The Type R Mugen feels much more like a track weapon than the standard car. And although its £38 599 (R432 000) price is just as racy as its performance figures – inching dangerously close to Porsche Cayman territory in the UK – the fact that only 20 will ever be built goes quite some way to justifying its hefty price tag.