2002 Honda Civic Si
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The special new Honda Civic Si is a genuine hot ride, unlike other Civic models.
The Civic line is unchanged this year, except for the Si and the early 2003 hybrid gasoline-electric Civic.
The Si is aimed mainly at the escalating number of young male drivers who like small, fast cars that don't cost an arm and a leg. It's also for those who like to modify used Japanese economy cars such as the ones in last year's hit movie, "The Fast and the Furious."
Many such cars are used Civics because they're cheap and readily available, especially on the West Coast.
The Si has a rather cutesy shape with its stubby nose, soft edges and tall roof. It's still the least attractive model in the above-mentioned trio. However, none will win styling awards because small cars with decent utility all come out looking much like eggs or boxes.
Most Expensive Civic
The Si is reasonably priced for a well-equipped high-performance trim. The only factory option is $250 side front airbags, which are a good idea considering the small size of the Si.
Honda says the Si plays "two relatively small but important" roles in the Civic line by meeting consumer demands for a hatchback and the return of the Si.
The Civic is the car that put Honda on the map in America. It's been popular since its introduction here in the early 1970s, just in time for the gasoline crunch.
The last Si offered in this country was the 1999-2000 version, which had a conventional coupe body. While fast, the car's 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine was a screamer that called for lots of revs and constant shifting. You really had to be a dedicated car buff to enjoy it.
Easier To Live With
Regular 2002 Civics have 4-cylinder, single-overhead-camshaft engines that generate 115-127 horsepower, so they're not in the same performance league as the 160-horsepower Si.
The front-drive Si's low-emissions engine has dual overhead camshafts with such things as a continuous valve phasing system. It's a smoother version of the base engine in Honda's more expensive, upscale Acura RSX sports coupe.
The shifter is perfectly placed for fast, easy upshifts and downshifts—and allows freed-up floor space for such items as beverage containers.
No Automatic Transmission
The Si is quick, hitting 60 mph in 7.6 seconds. It's also pretty economical, delivering an estimated 26 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.
Honda says the assembled-in-England Si has "European hatchback styling." The high curvature rear end and low, wide tailgate allow maximum utilization of interior space and easy cargo loading. The cargo area is fairly big, and is impressive with the rear seatbacks folded forward.
All Civics are highly reliable and have good resale value. However, a used Si probably wouldn't have as large a buying audience as conventional pre-driven Civics because of its manual gearbox and general hot-rod personality.
A faster, slicker 200-horsepower Civic with a 6-speed manual transmission and wider tires is sold in Europe and Japan, but Honda says there currently are no plans to import it. The Si will have to do for now in America—not that this is a hardship.