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2002 Honda Civic SiR

Text and Photography by Sammy Chan

Proud to be a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada 加拿大車評人協會 (AJAC)  

2009 Honda Civic 2009 Honda Civic

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Test Notes on April 3rd, 2002:

Engine
Makes terrific notes, sounds like a sewing machine on wheels. Sound even more appealing and exotic than Acura’s RSX Type S. Power is strong even at low speed, so it’s quite a surprise to see that on paper, it’s maximum torque is only 132 lb-ft/5000 rpm.

Revs to limiter of about 7300 rpm in split-second, redline on tachometer spans from 6800 to 8000 rpm, kind of low for such exotic material. Consider that the Toyota Matrix XRS sports a 9000 high on its tachometer.

Don’t confuse this with the 200 horse version called the Type R that we will never get in North America, well, at least for now. Actually, a more powerful version in the tune of 215 horses is available in Japan. For your info, here’s the output figures for North American, British and Japanese versions:

Market

North America

Europe

Japan

Horsepower

160 HP/6500 rpm

200 PS/7400 rpm

215 PS/8000 rpm

Torque

132 lb-ft/5000 rpm

20.0 kgm/5900 rpm

20.6 kgm/7000 rpm

Transmission
Only 5-speed (6-speed on the Matrix XRS, but SiR excels the XRS on feel), but the console placement is just lovely and makes shifting gears so intuitive and such a delight (Well, as long as it’s fracture-proof !). Shift has a high quality feel to it, makes click-click sounds, but still not at par with BMW which on the other hand is a notch below the wonderful Honda S2000. I would like to see shorter shift throws, though it’s already very good as is.

Gear ratio seems short, with first maxxing out at 52 km/h and second gear at only 93 km/h (not unlike Honda Prelude if I can recall, also, it means that you have to spend more time shifting to third in your 0-100 km/h timed blast). Engine revs at 100 km/h for 3rd, 4th and 5th are 5200, 3800 and 3200 rpm respectively.

Clutch pedal effort is just about right and interfaces with the transmission well. Has never let me down or embarrassed me while getting off from stop on inclines, makes rocking car back and forth fun and addictive. Pedals are non-metallic finish though.

Suspension
Not as firm as I would like and body roll is noticeable. Road grip is more than acceptable but not phenomenal. Blame its tall body and those fifteen inch Michelin MXV4 tires if you will. For those who are willing to fork out $25,500 (most are now paying full-price as quotas are very limited), they might as well spend a few more on better tires and better-looking alloys, ditto for better-looking callipers inside the front wheels.

Brakes
Brakes fast and strong, no problem here.

Steering
Although responsive, feel is not consistent and there’s some vagueness to it. Hope some lap times with the SiR on the track at upcoming’s AJAC Car of the Year (October, 2002) event would leave me with a better impression. Steering effort is ideal though. Torque steer is strangely too evident. 

Interior
Fit and finish is very very good for a Civic, probably the best-finished Civic I have ever encountered. The silver label at the bottom of the B-pillar reads "MFD. By Honda of the U.K., MFG., LTD."

Recaro-like seats are simply gorgeous both in looks and support, too bad they can’t adjust for height, leaving me with a less than ideal seating position without bringing down the steering wheel (only tilt, no telescope) too much as to block the gauges. The red-stitched steering wheel is very handsome at least. Same for the gauges, though the not-as-white-as-I-like face is rather dull for my taste. Rear leg and head room turns out to be better than expected. Cargo area is sufficient for most, glad to see an indentation at the back of the liftgate for easy closing.

The all-new, European built 2002 Honda Civic SiR three-door will be sold in Canada with the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $25,500.

Under the hood of the SiR is a high-output DOHC 2.0-litre i -VTEC engine that produces 160 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, while being capable of meeting the Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standard. The SiR’s i -VTEC engine is a next generation powerplant that combines Honda’s patented VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology and new VTC (Variable Timing Control). Honda’s new VTC system continuously adjusts the intake camshaft phase according to the engine load. This new system allows for low fuel consumption, low emissions and maximum torque at all engine speeds. The 130 lb.-ft. of torque produced by the new engine provides the widest power range and most linear power band ever for a Civic.

The Civic SiR has a performance-oriented close ratio "rally-style" 5-speed manual transmission mounted on the centre dashboard. The transmission’s close proximity to the steering wheel allows for quick shifts and a sporty feel. Compared to other Civic models, the SiR uses firmer dampers and springs. Substantial front and rear stabilizer bars give the SiR added tautness and precision in cornering. Large diameter disc brakes up front and new rear disc brakes complement larger wheels and tires all around to maximize the vehicle’s performance nature. In addition, the braking system features Electronic Brake Distribution and an anti-lock braking (ABS) system.

The 3-door styling is an entirely new configuration for the seventh-generation Civic and will be offered in Canada only as the SiR. Its high-curvature rear end and functional tailgate allow for maximum utilization of space and easy loading and unloading. Along with aerodynamic enhancements, the mesh-type front grille and rear roof spoiler further accent the performance character of the SiR.

Civic SiR’s interior styling boasts excellent visibility, smart control placement and highly supportive sport seats with red stitching. Interior enhancements include performance oriented seats, white gauges and a 60:40 split rear seat that folds straight down onto the seat base to create a flat load floor. The Civic SiR will be produced at Honda of the U.K. Manufacturing plant in Swindon, England.

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