Last post on Dec 21, 2007 at 4:11 PM
You are in the Honda Civic
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Honda Civic, Coupe
#597 of 3321 Took a long drive in the Si.
May 05, 2002 (7:32 am)
Took a very nice test drive in the Si on Saturday. I like the Hatchback styling. The engine has all the typical Honda goodness. (Although, I do miss that VTEC engagement on the previous model.) I think it has one of the smoothest 5-speeds Honda has ever made. The rally style shifter is great. The seats provide great support. But the handling is a real disappointment. A real oversight by Honda. I can deal with the fact that Honda produces more interesting versions of this car for other markets if they would have made this a fun to drive. My old 1991 Protege was more fun to drive with less HP! The previous version had much better handling and was certainly more interesting to drive. Honda has all the parts right. They just need to button this thing down and make it out-handle all other Civics before it!
After the test drive, I explained my thoughts to the dealer. He was honest and told me that 4 local Honda dealerships have a total of about 15 of these things for a couple of weeks and have been only able to sell 2!!! I told him it didn't surprise me. The Si is not priced far from the RSX type-S. I told him I would just spend $3000 more and get one of those. Or the WRX, MP-3, SVT Focus, and did you read the new review of the Dodge Neon SRT-4. Now some of you may be thinking how could you compare a Dodge to a Honda. The point I'm trying to make is that there is allot of other choices out there now. Honda needs to do something interesting with the Si to separate themselves from the rest. The Si is too important a product for Honda! Now it is just another car like any other. I'd rather have a fun handling MP-3 than a sloppy Si. Look for a good used Civic Si on Prelude and remember the fun cars Honda used to make for us. HONDA, BRING THE CTR BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!!!!!
I did learn something new though, Honda is bringing an Accord Type R, w/ 6-speed manual. Unfortunately it will probably cost 30,000.
May 05, 2002 (7:43 am)
Did the dealer you spoke with seem willing to deal on the price of the car, or are they sticking to MSRP (or MSRP+)in your area?
#599 of 3321 Accord Type R
May 05, 2002 (1:37 pm)
I hate to dash your hopes, but there is no chance that a mere dealer would know in advance what cars are coming. It would a mistake by Honda to reveal so early because it would give the competitors too much of a heads-up.
#600 of 3321 Comments about the Si
May 05, 2002 (6:06 pm)
I test drove the Civic Si a couple times during the past two weeks. There were things about the
car that impressed me, while other things that didn't.
About the styling. Hatchbacks are by their nature an engineering design challenge. They don't have the natural structural rigidness (compared to coupes and sedans) because the rear of the vehicle doesn't have structure that hold the sides together. This means that the engineers have to come up with different ways to stiffen up the frame.
While the design does look funky, it is very much a case of form following the need for structural rigidness. I was very impressed with the design in that it does a good job of creating space with a pretty stiff chasis. The car definitely felt more solid than any other Civic, which is saying a lot since it's a hatchback. (Part of this improvement was due to the use of heavier/stiffer high tensile steel, which is the main reason why the car is a 'porker').
The powertrain is definitely a notch above past Honda drivetrains, or at least those that I have driven. The manual transmission is virtually notchless and effortless to use. While the rally placement of the shifter looks weird, it didn't seem weird after using it a couple if times.
I have driven the Mazda P5 and must say that the powertrain is not as good. Try this: start the car and leave it in neutral. Check if the wheel or shifter has any vibration. I think that you will find that there is vibration in the P5 powertrain, while there is none in the Si or even a Civic EX. Mazda's are still good cars (I once owned a Mazda) and the great thing about those cars that Honda's never had was excellent steering, which Honda improved in this current Civic generation with the variable rate steering. Still, though, I haven't driven any car that is as good as this Si/RSX powertrain.
The powertrain is good but the gear ratios are a mystery. The (numerically) highest final drive ratio I have seen for a manual Honda/Acura is about 4.4. The RSX is a little lower and the cheap Civics are even lower. The Si has a ratio of 4.76, which means that you are running 4000RPM at 80 MPH. What is the point of this? This might work if it was the 5th gear in a 6sp transmission, but not a 5spd. This works out to be about 10% higher than the 160HP RSX., which exacts a mileage penalty and perhaps a noise penalty on the highway. Based on my own test drive, I found that the Si was still pretty quiet at 80MPH. I still don't see the why this was setup this way. I expect Honda to offer both good performance and economy. Geeze, a Hyundai Elantra gets better mileage with their 2 liter engine!
The ergonomics of the interior were not bad, though it takes getting used to the higher cowl of the dash. I think Honda has gone down a notch or two in the quality (or the appearance of quality) in the materials used in the interior, for the Si as well as regular Civics. I think that the '93 del sol had the best quality looking interior materials.
I did at first get sticker shock when I saw the price. (The dealers in my area are discounting the car, $500 with no effort, $1000 for serious buyers). But, compare the car to a Civic EX which can be bought for about 15,900 vs. say 18,500 for an Si. That's a difference of 2,600, which can probably be made up by expected higher resale value in addition to the upgraded stuff in the car.
An RSX 5sp cloth can be bought for 19,000-19,500. The RSX is probably a better value due to all the extra stuff for a few bucks more. But, it doesn't have as much room.
May 06, 2002 (2:42 am)
I'm curious about the Si, and would at least like to drive it before crossing it off my list, but I can't stand the thought of having to deal with the slimeball salespeople at the Honda stores near me. Thanks for your observations. Perhaps Honda went with the crazy final drive ratio in an effort to get some acceleration out of the car? I can't think of any other reason, since higher revs usually mean poorer fuel economy.
May 06, 2002 (5:15 am)
I didn't pressure him on price. He knew I was just there to check on my Odyssey Order. I have sent this guy allot of customers and when something interesting comes out he usually will let me drive it. He described it as a real 'dud' as far as sales were concerned. I think they got spoiled w/ Odyssey and S2000 being pretty much sold before they even hit the lot. From the poor sales report I got, I would have offered him $500 over invoice. I imagine in other areas these things are selling well, but not around me. I have seen some pictures of new Si's on Temple of VTEC web site with 17 inch tires and new springs to lower car and they look great! I was kind of hoping Honda would do that from the Factory and save me the time and more important the money.
Concerning Accord Type R, I can only tell you what the dealer told me. I would say that most of the time I know more than the dealer about upcoming new designs just based on my own research. But this guy seems to know his product pretty well. Lets hope he is right. The Accord could stand to have some excitement!!
May 06, 2002 (6:31 am)
Enjoy the Odyssey! My wife has a 2001 and she loves it, despite the minivan stigma. It's a great vehicle.
And now it looks really sporty, what with it's resemblance to that performance icon, the Civic Si! LOL!
#604 of 3321 Thanks Jim,
May 07, 2002 (4:39 am)
We are actually having some trouble getting an Odyssey. Our delivery date has been set back to July or August. At this point, I'm willing to say wait until September and get a 2003. Might be easier to get into a Pilot this summer. Never thought I would think about owning an SUV. But in reality it is an AWD Odyssey, just looks different. Not sure what we are going to do. My wife is not happy with having to wait so long. We had twins about a year ago and need something w/ more space! Later!
May 07, 2002 (5:34 am)
if you have to "suffer" with the Pilot!
May 08, 2002 (8:29 am)
I drove the Si, and loved the shifter! Thanks, Bobby Knight!
It was fun pretending i was petta solberg, or Tommi Makkinen, when i would put my R. hand back on the wheel after each shift.
One thing to consider to those thinking of base RSX vs. Si: resale value. I think that this is important whether you lease or buy.
Even if you keep your car for 10 years, like i like to do, it's nice to have a few more bucks in your pocket from better resale value.
My point is that perhaps the Acura name might be worth the inital premium.