I’m sure everyone knows at least one person who has owned a Honda Civic at some point. It’s a car that was ubiquitous as the Toyota Corolla at one stage, but ignoring the raucous Civic Type R, now it’s down to a single model – the Honda Civic Sport.

Well, until now. Honda has decided to give us a slightly sportier version of the Civic and has pulled the well-known Mugen performance brand name out of the hat. 

The 2022 Civic Mugen is more about the look than the performance, with a spoiler kit added plus a few other trinkets. Is that enough? With hopes set to ‘not high’, I spent over a week in the Civic Mugen, and then passed it to DriveLife motoring journalist Alistair Weekes for his view on the car. Alistair tested the Civic Sport earlier this year, so his view on the changes between the two models should be valuable.

While we were reviewing the Civic Mugen, there was a need to do a decent road trip with it and in total, we’d rack up around 800Km in the car. When DriveLife tests a car, we really test a car. How did the 2022 Honda Civic Mugen fare? Read on.

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Honda Civic Mugen

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Silky smooth engine
Surprising performance
Infotainment system
Driving pleasure
Exhaust note (optional sports exhaust)
Premium Crystal Blue
Build quality
Mostly visual changes
Exhaust drone
Road and tyre noise
Price in comparison

What’s In The 2022 Honda Civic Range?

With the addition of the Mugen, you get to pick from three Civic models in New Zealand:

The engine for both lower models is a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo VTEC Engine with 131kW of power and 240Nm of torque. The transmission is a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) with a 7-speed stepped mode.

The Type R is a different beast altogether, with a 2-litre turbo motor that outputs 228kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It only comes with a manual gearbox.

According to Honda, the Civic Mugen is fee-neutral under the Clean Car Programme.

2022 Honda Civic Standard Equipment Highlights

  • Smart Proximity Key with Push Button Start and Walk Away Auto-locking
  • 7-inch LCD Drive Information interface with colour display
  • Black Leather & Ultra-suede Seat trim with Red stitching
  • Front foot-well and red door ambient lighting
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Automatic dusk-sensing LED headlights
  • Automatic wipers
  • Front LED fog lights
  • LED Tailights
  • Auto retractable and heated door mirrors
  • Rear privacy glass
  • Bose audio system w/ 12 speakers inc. subwoofer
  • 9″ Next Generation Display Audio with Apple Carplay (wireless), and Android Auto (wired)
  • Honda Sensing Suite of driver-assist technologies (inc) with new Traffic Jam Assist
  • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
  • Front, front-side, full curtain, and knee airbags
  • Multi-Angle Reversing Camera
  • 3 Selectable drive modes (Econ, Normal & Sport)

Honda Sensing Technology

  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Low-Speed Follow (LSF)
  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Integrated with CMBS
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Integrated with RDM
  • Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS)
  • Traffic Jam Assist (TJA)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
  • Auto High-Beam Support System (HSS)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)

Upgrading to the Mugen adds:


  • MUGEN Front Underspoiler
  • MUGEN Side Underspoilers
  • MUGEN Rear Underspoiler
  • MUGEN Tailgate Spoiler


  • MUGEN Front Grille Trim
  • MUGEN Interior Decal
  • MUGEN Door Handle Protectors
  • MUGEN Metal Emblem
  • MUGEN Sill Garnishes

ACCESSORIES (extra cost)

  • MUGEN FS10 Forged Alloy Wheels
  • MUGEN Sports Exhaust System
  • MUGEN Oil Filler Cap
  • MUGEN Ventilated Visor

We won’t go into the Type R’s features here as it’s a completely different car in many respects. You can check out our review of the Civic Type R here.

Our Review Vehicle’s Optional Equipment

Our test car was fitted with the optional Mugen Sports Exhaust System and the Mugen FS10 Forged Alloy Wheels at a total cost of $10,999. Including the optional equipment, our review car’s retail price is $62,999 + on-road costs.

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2022 Honda Civic Mugen head on over to the Honda New Zealand website.

How Does The 2022 Honda Civic Mugen Compare To Its Competition?

This is where the Civic Mugen might struggle. It’s almost ten grand more than the Focus ST-Line or the Cerato GT. Tough choices.

All prices below exclude the refund or additional cost of the New Zealand Clean Car Programme.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/Torque,
Mini Cooper Hatch S1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder141/28055.8278$56,950
Honda Civic Hatch Mugen1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder131/24056.3412$52,000
Mazda3 Limited2.5-litre 4-cylinder139/25256.6295$50,290
Volkswagen Golf TSI R-Line1.4-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder110/25056.4381$49,990
Hyundai i30 N-Line1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder150/26557.5395$44,990
Ford Focus ST-Line X 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder mild hybrid114/19054.8443$42,990
Kia Cerato GT1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder150/26557.6428$42,990

First Impressions Of The 2022 Honda Civic Mugen

For 2022, Honda has given us a new colour: Premium Crystal Blue. Our test car was finished in this new colour, and it looked amazing. While Mazda has bragging rights with Soul Red, I believe Honda takes the crown for the best blue. I doubt photos do it justice; in the flesh, this car pops. Someone looked at the Mugen and said, “they will sell these just because of that colour”. I agree.

Regardless of the colour, it’s still an extremely well-designed 5-door hatchback. The proportions are just right, and at certain angles, the Civic Mugen looks like it’s got some European heritage tucked away somewhere. Maybe a night spent in a seedy motel with the designer of the Kia Stinger, the Ford Mondeo, and Honda.

I spotted a Civic Sport in this same blue in the showroom when picking up the Mugen, and it looked excellent – but the Mugen looks even better, with its body kit and forged alloy wheels. Yes, you are paying $5K more for it, but for me, it’s worth it.

Our car was fitted with the optional Mugen Forged Alloy Wheels, and they looked superb. Far better than the standard wheels, and hard to go past as an option.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Honda Civic Mugen?

Before opening the door, you’ll see the “MUGEN Door Handle Protectors”. It’s hard to be nice about these, as they look a bit tacky. If it were my Mugen, I’d be removing them. The interior of the Mugen is pretty much identical to the Civic Sport, so I won’t go on too much about it. You can read Alistair’s review of the Civic Sport here, and he covers it pretty well.

The only difference in the interior between the two models is a ‘Mugen’ logo on the dash, and that’s it. If you open any door you’ll see a Mugen sill cover.

My views of the interior pretty much reflect Alistair’s; there is lots of room, the interior feels like quality, and the boot is huge. The cargo cover that slides out from the side is a simply brilliant idea. I wonder why it hasn’t caught on with other brands yet.

One thing that Alistair didn’t mention and something that I love is the air vents. Yes, I’m easily pleased. That honeycomb effect looks excellent, and the toggles for adjusting the air vent direction are so simple to use, and they are effective. Another highlight of the AC system in the Civic is the dials for adjusting AC controls; they look superb, and they feel excellent. Just turning them makes a very satisfying ‘click’. A small thing, yes, but it adds to the sense of quality.

What Is The 2022 Honda Civic Mugen Like To Drive?

As soon as you start the Civic Mugen, it hits you: that (optional) sports exhaust system. It has a delicious tone to it that reminds me of a hotted-up car from the 80s – just stick a bigger exhaust on it. That’s not to say it sounds bad, far from it. All my passengers lifted an eyebrow when I started the car. It exudes a sense of power and performance. The new exhaust won’t give you crackles and pops like say the Hyundai i30N, it’s all about a louder noise instead. That louder noise can turn into a bit of a drone on the motorway, as that louder exhaust note never disappears. It’s never bad, but it’s always there.

After reading the press release about the Mugen, I was a bit disappointed that the exhaust does not add any extra power to the engine, but then I drove the car. I don’t remember the Civic going this well – although it’s no Type R. Still, it is so peppy and engaging it does make a good go-between without going to the Type R. In saying that, you could of course just buy the Civic Sport and get exactly the same performance, so Honda may struggle here to sell the Mugen in numbers.

That 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo motor is silky smooth too, right out to the 6,500rpm redline. Other than the exhaust note, it doesn’t have a lot of character other than the ability to up and go at any time. It’s a gem of an engine, even if it is ‘only’ 130kW.

On the performance side of things, there are paddle shifters but the gear lever itself doesn’t move to slip the car into a manual gearbox mode, if you prefer that. The Civic Mugen has a constantly variable transmission (CVT) and we normally don’t love these at all, but the one in the Civic actually does a great job, and the 7-speed stepped mode actually works well. As far as CVTs go, I could live with this one. Alistair had a different view of the CVT in his review, calling it ‘middle of the pack’ – so perhaps I’ve been experiencing a few lately that are done less well than that in the Civic Mugen.

The rev counter is nicely done in the Mugen (and the Sport), with only the numbers lit up in the rev range that you are in. Say you’re pulling 2,500rpm, only the 2 and 3 will be lit up on the rev counter, giving you exactly the right information without any other ‘noise’ of more numbers. Again, it’s a simple but effective feature.

While the rev counter looks analogue, it is a digitally operated unit, but the speedo is pure analogue. The speedo doesn’t have a 50km/h marking, but one of the options in the driver’s information display is a nice, chunky, digital speedo. 

After our first 365Km of driving, it was time for fuel. I was impressed that the engine only needs 91 fuel when most turbo motors usually require the more expensive 95 or 98 fuel. Kudos to Honda for achieving this. I’d be cranking up the miles in the car very shortly, so the cheaper fuel cost would be appreciated.

After that first 365Km of driving, some observations. I’m still loving the engine. While it’s not a true VTEC motor, it loves to rev and goes extremely well. I think this was one of the big surprises for me. After driving the CR-V with the same motor, the Civic Mugen does it so much better. That 200Kg weight reduction over the CR-V really shows in the Mugen’s performance. I was missing any sort of adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat, and I know that Alistair felt the same when he reviewed the Civic. While the driver’s seat is 6-way electric, there’s no manual or electric adjustment for lumbar.

There’s a fair amount of tyre noise from those Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres, and it’s there in relative abundance when driving on coarse chip seal. It really only goes away on smooth asphalt, and any sort of rain (and we had plenty during our test) will amplify that tyre noise right into the cabin. Road noise is a little on the high side, too.

Ride quality is a bit of a mixed bag; over long bumps and irregularities, it’s pretty well-damped. What it doesn’t like is short, sharp shocks, which can feel pretty harsh at times. The steering is very quick, with only a few turns lock to lock. Very nice feel too, and for me the steering was one of the highlights of the Civic Mugen.

The Bose audio system does a good job with an impressive imitation of surround sound, but the midrange feels a little flat. Overall, it should appease any teenage passengers.

Part of my time with the Mugen included a 500Km trip away from home, a great chance to really see how it is to live with this car. On the whole? Excellent. The Civic Mugen is surprisingly good in so many respects. Yes, the ride can be firm over certain road surfaces, but the ease of driving this car might make you check your need for an SUV. Add in that large boot and you have a great everyday car, and one that’s also excellent on a long trip. I tried out the Lane Keep Assist system on the car, and it’s certainly one of the better ones. Some brands have the car trying to steer jerkily or wandering in its lane, but the Civic Mugen does a fine job of keeping the car centred.

On that trip, I used Sport mode more than once – mostly for passing slower traffic. It does give the car that extra pep when needed, although I wish there was a bit more action on the dash when switching to Sport mode – all the driver sees is a small red bar over the speedo, and that’s it. Since we are talking Mugen here, I was hoping for something a bit more exciting when turning Sport mode on. It’s a bit of the same with the key; it’s the standard Civic key, no red on it, no Mugen logo. 

Over our total time with the Civic Mugen, we covered 900Km, and the car gave us a fuel consumption of 6.9L/100Km.


I vividly recall my time with the Honda Civic Sport earlier in the year. To some, that’ll sound like an odd sentence. The word “Civic” is hardly a nameplate that one immediately associates with a memorable experience. Short of the absolutely unhinged Civic Type R, that is.

Though, I remember being quite taken with the Civic Sport. Simply put, it does everything well. I even gave it unconventionally high praise by calling it the least annoying new car I’ve driven. By my standards, that’s one of the best accolades you can win. 

The Civic Sport has executive styling, a high-quality and spacious interior, plus it performed and handled incredibly well for a family hatch. Short of a few ride quality tweaks, it was nearly faultless. 

Now, we have the Honda Civic Mugen. To be blunt, I don’t see the point spending the extra $5,000.   

The Civic Sport is already a good-looking car. The Mugen body kits do not add any visual appeal for me. The use of faux carbon fibre, particularly for the door handle protectors, just looks tacky.

The forged alloys reduce unsprung weight but don’t alter the performance in any memorable way. Even as a dyed-in-the-wool car enthusiast, I didn’t get much utility from having a louder exhaust, as the engine note isn’t anything to write home about. Besides, the Civic is a premium hatchback, not a performance car.

For me, the best visual addition is the paint job. The Premium Crystal Blue is stunning. That said, it’s now available on the Civic Sport. 

I still think the Honda Civic is a great car, but the Civic Mugen? For me, not so much.

2022 Honda Civic Mugen – Specifications

Vehicle Type5-Door Hatchback
Starting Price$52,000
Price as Tested$62,999
Engine1.5L, 4 Cylinder, 16 valve, VTEC Turbo, Intercooled, Chain Drive DOHC
Power, Torque
TransmissionEarthDreams Automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with G-Design Shift, Next Generation G-Logic Control with G force detection
Spare WheelPump only
Kerb Weight, Kg1,369
Length x Width x Height
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.0
Real-World Test – Combined – 6.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
WarrantyUp to 5 Year Warranty (3-year Manufacturer + 2-year Distributor), unlimited kilometres, fully transferable
Free 24/7 Honda Roadside Assistance up to 5 years – as long as the car is under warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NMF628

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
2022-honda-civic-mugen-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Let’s be honest here: you aren’t getting a lot for your $5,000 premium over the Civic Sport. If you aren’t into the body kit, stick with the Civic Sport.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>But if you are into a bit more bling without making the car harder riding or more ‘sporty’ to drive, then the Mugen ticks a lot of boxes.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>I’m still a bit disappointed that Honda has diluted the Mugen name by doing nothing in the performance or handling departments, but on the other hand, you have to hand it to them for sticking with having a hatchback on their books when everyone else seems to be dumping them.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>In the end, if you want a car to impress your non car-people neighbours, the 2022 Honda Civic Mugen in Premium Crystal Blue is a great way to go. However, with the optional wheels and sports exhaust, our test car costs roughly the same as the Civic Type R. That’s not really a tough choice to make, unless you must have an automatic.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->


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