Sport Divisions in the Spotlight - Mugen Motorsports

Sport divisions are often partially, and sometimes entirely, owned by the automakers they tweak cars for, which allow the companies to closely collaborate on the projects they work on. But Mugen Motorsports is a bit different than the others as the sport unit is not owned by Honda, despite the fact that all its creations are based on models developed by the Japanese manufacturer.

Mugen is mostly focused on tuning Honda engines that could be used on street-legal models but the company has also made history in motorsports, including in Formula 1 where it supplied engines for multiple teams. Mugen entered F1 in 1991 as supplier of V10 powertrains for Tyrell. In 1992, Mugen began working with Footwork while in 1994, the company started a collaboration with Lotus and its drivers, Johnny Herbert and Pedro Lamy (replaced by Alessandro Zanardi later in the season).

The team's economic situation directly affected Mugen's engines performance so, at the end of the year, the team decided to do another switch, this time moving to Ligier, a team whose driver, Olivier Panis, brought Mugen's first Formula One victory at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.

Mugen's very own experience in Formula 1 ended after the last race of the 2000 season when Japanese manufacturer Honda decided to get back in the championship and bring its own engines, replacing Mugen's powertrains and signing with British American Racing.

Getting back to Mugen's evolution in the passenger car market, the group has always been focused on tweaking Honda models and developing high-performance and aftermarket parts for these particular models. But Mugen's expectations rose as time passed by so the company planned to build its very own cars.

Mugen underwent a massive restructuring in 2003 when the owners decided to form a new entity, called M-TEC, which would keep the rights of using the Mugen trademark. Based in Asaka, Saitama near Tokyo, M-TEC continued to rely on the same designing teams headed by the same Mugen board member Shin Nagaosa.

Honda Civic is one of the most popular models customized by Mugen, as it came equipped with a high-performance suspension, forged aluminum wheels, aerodynamic body styling and a sports-tuned exhaust system.

In order to get the best possible performance, Mugen tested the suspension system at the Twin Ring Motegi racing circuit in Japan. Specifically, the suspension system lowers the body by 0.6 inches which translates into enhanced handling without affecting the ride comfort. Exclusively painted in Fiji Blue Pearl, the Civic Mugen Sedan boasted 18x7.5-inch forged aluminum wheels (27 percent lighter than the stock 17x7 alloy wheel) and high-grip BFGoodrich g-Force KDW 215/40-ZR18 summer tires.

As for the performance, the car was powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine that generated 197 horsepower at 7800 rpm and 139 lb-ft of torque at 6100 rpm. It was only available as a limited-production car, with Honda rolling out only 1,000 units for the 2008 model year, and came with a price tag of $30,000.

Mugen recently confirmed a brand new model, the Civic Type R "Mugen" prototype which, for the time being, will remain in the form of a concept as there is no production version currently in the works. The tuned Civic makes use of an uprated 2.0-liter i-VTEC powertrain that produces much more power and increased torque compared to the stock models. Brakes, exhaust and suspensions will also receive some treatment from Mugen Euro, the Northampton-based subsidiary of Honda's long standing tuning partner Mugen.

Honda's tuning arm hasn't released engine performance figures but rumors indicated that the car will generate somewhere around 237 bhp, which means it could go from naught to sixty in less than six seconds and reach a maximum speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).

At the 2009 Tokyo Auto Salon, the tuning house brought several models, including the NSX Mugen RR Concept that featured 255/35-R18 and 335/30-R18 tires, adjustable rear wing, a rear diffuser and widened front. The car was powered by a tweaked 3.2-liter V6 powertrain but performance figures are yet to be revealed.

Additionally, Mugen also showcased the Honda Accord 24sc Concept which is still an enigma since the manufacturer struggles to keep things secret until the car finally arrives on the market.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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