- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2002

Honda puts fire in the belly of the 2002 Civic lineup. The all-new Civic Si is a hot performance-inspired hatchback.
This zippy, two-door hatchback is a little firecracker, providing a lot of bang for the buck, with prices ranging from $19,000 to $20,000. Styling, ride and handling, comfort and functionality are all pre-eminent qualities of this newest addition to the Civic line.
The eye-popping feature on the Si hatchback is the placement of the five-speed manual shifter: it is mounted on the instrument panel's center console! The shifter is an attention-grabber and is the first thing my front-seat passenger marvels about when hopping into the Si. I like this clever design for its appealing visual interest and no-nonsense easy use. With its close-ratio five gears, the rally-style shifter is fun to operate. On the center console floor where I would h
The Si hatchback bears all the familiar values of its Civic siblings as well: great gas mileage, efficient engine operation, and state-of-the-art safety technology.
The Civic Si has a high-output 2-liter four-cylinder engine, featuring Honda's latest version of "intelligent" valve-control technology.
In simple lay terms, what the driver experiences with the i-VTEC system is a smooth, responsive, very quiet engine operation.
The owner can expect great fuel economy ratings, estimated at 26 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
On my test drive, I was especially aware of the low level of noise coming from this little vehicle. In most small cars, I expect to tolerate an understandable degree of noise, vibration and harshness.
But Honda engineers don't rest on low expectations.
The Civic Si engine gives the driver and passengers an exceptionally quiet ride.
This power plant benefits from the addition of several noise-reducing hardware pieces and a tuneup is not required until the odometer rolls over to 100,000 miles.
The exterior hatchback design is not of the old-fashioned, traditional, sloping rear window; rather, the 2002 model breaks the old mold with a high-curvature tailgate.
The new design allows for more interior headroom for back-seat occupants and ample cargo loading room, including a built-in tray that conceals personal items.
The sporty-looking Si has a rear roof spoiler, dual-tipped chrome exhaust and power moon roof.
While zipping around town in the Civic, I never felt uncomfortable in the sport bucket seats, nor experienced a "bouncy" small-car ride.
The Civic Si has a highly rigid chassis, front and rear stabilizer bars, a high-performance double-wishbone rear suspension and a state-of-the-art innovative MacPherson strut front suspension. Engineers say all these attributes contribute to a smooth, fluid ride.
Standard features are four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, dual front air bags, large-diameter 15-inch tires with alloy wheels, and keyless entry system.
My test car also came equipped with the optional seat-mounted side-impact air bags.
My passenger was surprised by the large size of the windows, particularly the windshield.
I told him visibility is a classic signature element of the automaker, proving that although the Si may be set apart from the other Civic models, it is indeed a classic Honda.


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