Wednesday, May 6, 2009

!~~~ Makes heads turn ~~~!

When my gf made a comment that my Honda Accord looked "too executive", I decided it was time to change my wheels. Although I did like my Accord, it was indeed tad to comfy for my taste. Which is what started my hunt for a car. The criteria was quite simple. I wanted all the safety features of the Accord but in a sportier car that was also economical and reliable.

The search on google brought up 3 names - The MINI Cooper (those who have seen The Italian Job know what I mean), Volkswagen GTI (loved the fact that it came with a built in TURBO !!) and the Toyota Celica (loved its low profile, sleek shape and muscular styling.... the dials and the seats .... ok... I’ll stop now).

Search as I might, I could not get a Celica within my price range and if I did, the car was not in my color choice. When my birthday arrived, I decided that I was going to sell my Accord to put additional pressure on myself to make a decision. Having done that, I said to myself - If I’m going to be denied a Celica and have to pay high maintenance anyways, I’m gonna treat myself to a Merc or a Beemer!! Having said that, I went to the local car dealer and there.... Sitting demurely and yet commanding attention was a Honda. It felt quite at home with all the classy cars. As my love of Japanese cars is well known, I decided to go for a spin.

The first thing I noticed from the outside was the distinctive shape. It has a lot of curves and slopes in the hood, but as you progress towards the boot, the car gets more and more muscular and leaner. I guess the idea was to make people think that the car is a puny kitten, but when they take this pocket rocket up for a race, the boot is what they’ll see most of the times which will make them have new found respect for the vehicle!

The first thing I noticed on the interior was the inviting trim on the vehicle. Black cloth seats with red stitching is the theme of the vehicle. The dials have a white background with black letters and a red glow to them. The seats are meant to be comfortable and hugged my body well for aggressive cornering and driving comfort. The head rests have a hole - the kind you see in sports convertibles or in rally racers. Such is the attention to detail here, that the rally style shifter and the leather steering also have red stitching - like a base ball- to match the seats. The silver center console lends a touch of class to this sporty vehicle. Again, the door knobs are made to match the console and have a matt sliver finish to them. Full points to Honda for the interiors. They even have 3 cup holders in the front seats with the driver getting 2 - one on the left that pops in and out and another in the usual place below the center console; this was to help make the car comfy for left handers and for subtly saying "we are designing this to be a drivers car"!

The 2.0 liter iVTEC DOHC 16-valve 4 Cylinder with Continuously Variable Cam Timing has 3 distinct sounds to it - A low grunt in the 1.5K - 3K RPM range, A gentle purr in the 3k-4.5K range and a throaty Roarrrr in the 5-7K range!! The power delivery can be felt accordingly in each of the ranges. The thing I love the most about this engine is that it is very happy to redline!! In the initial days of owning my car, I loved revving it and feeling the surge of power propel the car at the whims of my right foot! It was a beast that needed to be tamed and we got along perfectly!

The iVTEC technology means that when you are not revving the engine you can get 26 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the freeway. I get 24 in City and 28-29 on the freeway. If revving it, the fuel economy drops to 21-22.xx range, but the fun had while doing it more than makes up for the measley gas milage :-))

The engine generates 160 horses @ 6,500 RPM and can propel this beast to 60 MPH in 7.9 Secs!! This makes the Civic Si an under 20,000 Dollar vehicle that is an under 8 second car!!!! All this while looking good too! If the Civic’s your wife, you wont need a mistress!

The front suspension of the Civic is a MacPherson Strut design to allow room for a high-mounted steering box with longer steering arms for improved stability. The rear suspension is the double wishbone type biased toward handling. The suspension is calibrated toward a firm ride at the expense of comfort (again, this is a sports car). The longer steering arms for improved stability mean that you can take corners at insane speeds without going over the edge as I found out in the 1st week of driving it. I hit an on-ramp designed for 25 MPH at 50 MPH and the car was riding on 3 wheels, but the rubber didnt leave the road and the corner was conquered without a scratch! I got my money’s worth right there!

It comes with an electric power steering for better control and improved fuel economy. As you speed up, the computer reduces the power steering effort in one MPH increments up to 99 MPH. This is done to provide the best steering feel at highway speeds, while providing a light steering effort during parking maneuvers. Very intelligent and very effective.

Being a driver’s car, it comes only with a 5-speed manual tranny. An automatic option is not available in the Si version. The clutch is very light and the short throw shifter is rally inspired - this is a boon because the engine and the gear box are mated in a way that will require you to shift gears often in the city, but the Honda engineers have made shifting a breeze.

The car comes fully loaded and there is no other option available for this vehicle.

Now the bad - After an year of driving, the car feels under powered, especiallly in 1st gear. The 2.0 engine feels small and at highway speeds, you feel the need of an extra gear as the engine revs are very high at highway speeds. A 6-speed gearbox would have improved gas milage and will also be easy on the engine because the ideal cruise RPM should be 2.5K and not 3.5 K on the freeway. The car lost points only because of this little nag that is important to me.

The verdict on this car - It is a head turner for sure. What looks like a demure cat easily turns into a beast if you wish it to. The car will get you noticed as you arrive in style!

4.9/5 on style
3.9/5 on performance
4.5/5 on the X-factor


avdi said...

Civic is not bad at all, even a car-challenged person like me knows :)

from ye olde ms?

eye-in-sty-in said...

lol... this one is a diff model. Am kinda tired of it now... :-)

and yes, this is from the good old days when our ignorance was bliss :-D

Mama-Mia said...

me likey Civic! drool always! tho me likey new city even more! :)

great review! seems to have come afta i dumped MS! :P



eye-in-sty-in said...

it does have a nice shape, nahi? I too was a fan of the original city. The new one.... not quite that much (unless there's a new version thats come out).

Probably right about the MS thing. Still kinda miss it at times. We all had a good thing going there... atleast it was good while it lasted :-)

couchpapaya said...

interesting! how long have u owned it now ?? still likey ? we're looking out for a new car now, by consensus our old corolla is not going to survive this winter. so need a new car before sept.. ahh the pressure!!

we test-drove the new insight this weekend, i think it's like the civic, maybe roomier inside. but it's v.v. stripped down, the prius just looks classier and is noticeably less noisy. u can make out which car we are inching towards right :D sportiness is not a factor at all for us, hubs wanted the FJ cruiser, i said NO WAY!!! i'm a killjoy that way ...

eye-in-sty-in said...

I have it for 2 years now (I think) Am getting tired of it now... Prius is awesome. If you have driven a toyota, you will not like Honda (somehow I always thought u to be a honda person) I had the Accord after my corolla got totalled and then I got the Civic Si. Not looking at Ford or Chevy? Not doing ur bit to save Detroit, eh! Last I heard, GM was one buyer short from saving them from bankruptcy ;-)