GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Honda Civic Si Hatchback

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91_sir-ii.jpg
1991 Civic SiR-II. This car used to deliver pizza.

SPEX

Years: 1991-1999 (4th gen)
Class: Subcompact
Type: 3-door hatchback

Country: Japan ```````````````````````````````````` Host: GT1, GT2, GT3, GT4, & GT5

 
Price as Tested: $9,858 ('93 Si, used lot--GT2)
                       $5,669 ('91 SiR-II, used lot--GT4)
                       $11,539 ('92 SiR-II, used lot--GT5)

GT4 mileage: 44,232
GT5 mileage: 3,203.7
 

Construction: unit Steel
Length: 160.2" // Width: 66.7" // Height: 53.1"
Wheelbase: 98.4"
Overhang: @5' 2"
Track: 57.1" [F] 57.3" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.9"
Weight: 2,094 lbs ('93 Si, GT2) /// 2,292 pounds (GT4 & 5)

Steering: power-assisted rack & pinion
F. Suspension: double wishbone / coils / anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: double wishbone / coils / anti-roll bar
Tires: 195/55-15 front & rear
Brakes: vented discs [F] solid discs [R]

Engine: 1.6 liter DOHC inline-4
Aspiration: normal
Valves per Cylinder: 4
Bore x Stroke: 2.95 x 3.54"
Compression Ratio: 10.4:1
 
GT4 idle Speed: 1,000 rpms
Redline: 8,000 // Rpm Limit: 9,000

GT5 idle Speed: 750 // Redline: 8,000 // RPM Limit: 8,500


Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive

The test car in GT4 was probably given oil change before all specs & testing. The car in GT5 was not given oil change or engine rebuild, since it rated just below the 167 hp quoted by the dealer.

Hp:
GT2:
157 @ 7,300
rpm       
GT4: 163 @ 7,800 rpms
GT5: 164 @ 7,500

Torque:
GT2:
115 @6 ,900 rpm       
GT4: 115 @ 7,300 rpms
GT5: 115 @ 7,000

 
Pound per hp:
GT2: 13.33                
GT4: 14.06
GT5: 13.97

Hp per Liter:
GT2: 100.38                
GT4: 102.7
GT5: 101.5

Credtis / HP:
GT2: $62.79              
GT4: $34.78
GT5: $70.34

Transmission: 5-speed manual.
Differential: limited-slip was an option in real-life.

0-60 mph:
GT2: 7.6 seconds                   
GT4: 8.783 seconds
GT5: 8.782

0-100 mph:
GT2: 21.3 seconds              
GT4: 21.816 seconds
GT5: 21.100

400 M
:
GT2:
16.369 @ 87 mph             
GT4: 17.238 @ 90
mph
GT5: 16.872 @ 88 mph

1 KM:
GT2:
29.334 @ 115 mph              
GT4: 30.046 @ 116 mph
GT5: 29.732 @ 114 mph

1 Mile:
GT5: 41.067 @ 125 mph


Test Track Time:
GT2: N/A                         
GT4: 2:44.571
GT5: 1:05.886 (Daytona)

100-zero mph
GT2: no test
GT4: no test
GT5: 5.55x seconds

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 3,200 (GT5)

Top Speed at Redline (GT4)
1st: 36 mph
2nd: 58 mph
3rd: 85 mph
4th: 113 mph
5th: 143.20 mph @ 7,750 rpms
       150.34 mph @ 8,300 rpms (GT2 '93 Civic Si)

Top Speed at Redline (GT5)
1st: 38.0 mph
2nd: 55.2
3rd: 82.5
4th: 110.0
5th: 141.8 mph @ 7,875 rpm

blak_civic-sir2.jpg

-------------------------EXTERIOR---------------------------

So forgive me if I don't get around to reviewing every Civic in these games. I raced a bunch of them in GT1 before I started making these reviews, but didn't start writing about them till I drove the famous '93 Civic Si of GT2. I also recently drove a '91 SiR model from the 4th game, and a '92 from the 5th. There are so many cars I'm hungry to write about, that all the varieties of Civic are gonna be neglected for awhile, unless inspiration strikes repeatedly!

There is a lot of variety within this sleepercar's genre, and from game to game, various models are represented. The Type R is king, but this review shall focus on those Civics that aren't so obviously proud.

GT1 and GT2 both feature Civic sedans and hatches (but no coupes, oddly, even tho coupes are highly in demand as racers). GT3 scaled down to just the '98 SiR-II hatch. In GT4 and 5, there are a variety of used models, but all of them are SiR-IIs from the early '90s. The former variety of Ferios, sedans, and regular Si hatches from those first two games is absent from the later ones, which is really odd since Civics are so popular on the underground / amateur racer market.

It seems that nowadays, lots of folks are into modifying Civics. Actually, to be more accurate, almost all modern Honda and Acura models of all types (even the Odyssey minivan!) can be and often are easily hopped up in real-life, with Neons, GTis, and Eclipses following somewhat behind in popularity. In my town on a Friday night, it seems every other Civic, Prelude, Integra, Accord, and del Sol (not to mention Neons, VW GTis, and Eclipses...) I see has at least one modification; whether it's a phat sports muffler, low-profile tires, lowered suspension, tinted windows, shiny alloy wheels, wings and spoilers, or even that decal with the boy pissing. Every once in a while, there'll be a "complete" street-racer Civic, which includes all the modifications above (rather than just one or two).

But often, these racer Civics look like half-finished projects...a wing kit, but not a paint job. Three super-low profile wheels, but one donut on the right front.

 Nine out of ten times, you know who the driver is. You may not know him personally, but you know the type: saggy pants, backwards baseball cap, slick language...etc. The thing is, 20 or 30 years ago, NOBODY would have guessed the lowly Honda would become THE car of choice for local thugs, racer boys and girls (and the like) to hop up. The Civic?...it's become the new 302 Boss Mustang, the new '57 Chevy...the new '62 Impala...get what I'm saying? :D

Anybody remember the Civic CVCC? This used to be one of the ugly ducklings in the '70s, quietly sipping fuel while it was passed on the highway. We can actually find one in GT4's Honda Classic lot. But by the early '90s the Civic has become quite the rad ride, mostly because after-market parts are rather cheap, plentiful, and readily available. Civic racers of all sorts can just go to their local performance shop, or even browse online for parts. They don't have to stalk junk yards or drive to a performance shop in another State so much like we had to back in the '80s and early '90s.

There are so many versions of the Civic Hatchback in our games: the Si, the CRX, the Racer...I'm too lazy at the moment to look them all up, but basically, there should be something for any Civic lover who pops in Gran Turismo 1 or 2. There aren't as many options in GT3 or 4 since these games feature less variety, unfortunately. GT5 has several new Civics for sale (Premium cars as well as Standards), but these are all Type Rs. The Sis from GT4 have continued on as well, and can still be found in the used car lot. 

The cars of this review (the '93 Si of GT2, '91 SiR-II of GT4, and '92 SiR-II of 5) look sharp as they zip around, engines hammering away like sewing machines. From game to game weight varies, but it shall always be on the light side even when these cars are stock, which makes  reductions optional early on. Since almost all GT1 & 2 Civics can be equipped with full-racing kits, these wind up being the lightest ... hatches in these games will eventually weigh anywhere from 1,700 pounds in GT1 to just over 2,000 in GT2 after full weight is removed. My SiR-II (GT4) weighed 2,017 pounds with Stage 3 weight class taken care of.

Just like in real-life, you may find yourself really kicking some major sport-car ass in a Civic once it's been tweaked, modified, and you know how to drive it skillfully. These cars won't go all the way to the World Cup, but we can surely give many races other front-drive hatches would die at a try.

civic_swissalps.jpg

--------------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------------

Rice has many purposes in life. People eat it, sometimes they use it for packing, and sometimes they throw it at the bride and groom during weddings, assuming we're talking of the Christian society. Here's yet another use for rice...boiled, fried, or roasted.

All 4th generation Civic engines are 1.6 liter high-revvers no matter what year, model, or body type. The word 'rice' when referring to small, Japanese automobiles is offensive to some...has a negative connotation. But I don't have time for all that nonsense. When I use the word 'rice' as I'm talking about JDM automotives, I only mean respect. :-/ There's also the word "ricer". A ricer is a car that has the look (the wings, the spoilers) but under the hood there's nothing special going on. It's the equivalent of a poseur. But the cars in our games are no poseurs. Let's discuss.
 
Honda did the right thing when they engineered this car with a heavenly 8,000 rpm redline, and believe me you're gonna need it, since both power and torque kick in at higher revs within a very narrow power-band. The Civic Si is the very definition of "Hot Hatch".  In any game, the Civic Si, SiR, and SiR-II can receive either turbo or NA upgrades, broadening our power range so that this so-called ricer can be entered into a wide range of events. Off the dealer's lot, this automobile makes some pretty impressive numbers considering its front-drive layout and the engine's low torque.

In GT2: zero to 60 mph in 7.6 seconds...and a top speed of about 150 mph. According to my GT1 notes, the Civic CR-X si gets to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is probably due to slightly taller gearing and about 80 pounds more weight (or just flawed testing...I wasn't as accurate back in those days). Top speed for this car is 153 mph. The GT1 Civic Racer, in contrast, has more initial power (178) but weighs 2,314 pounds. 0 to 60 in this car was achieved in 7.9 seconds, with a top speed of 155. Needless to say, the lesser used '93 Civic Si does slightly better than the other two cars, even though it's supposedly not as race-ready.

I'm really noticing the GT4 and 5 tests, too. In both games the SiR-IIs got to 60 mph at exactly the same amount of time!  Well, just about: 8.783 seconds in GT4, and 8.782 in 5.

This is one of GT's rare FFs that can be topped over 300 horses. In GT4, for instance, it can make 333 bhp with 227 foot-pounds with a Stage 3 turbo on its best behavior. Working with all this power thru the front wheels can get interesting, but those who are skilled with throttle input & gear tuning may find it possible. There is also a Stage 5 in this game at some of the tuner shops, which has slightly less power. Since torque & power are spread over a wider range with this turbo, it becomes more useful at tracks that feature lots of slow-n-go action. In those first two games, full power can be extracted with less consequences than in later games Civic hatches appear in, since GT3 & 4 modeled more wheelspin.

Basically, power starts off a bit tepid in any Civic, but gearing helps as best it can. Right around 6,000 rpms (doesn't matter if your Civic is stock or full-powered), there is a surge which quickly builds and peaks before redline is passed at 8,000 or more rpms.

The transmission is geared for acceleration, but 5th has been thankfully tweaked for speed. The first 4 speeds will take us to about 114 mph... zoom, zip....zip,....zip. And then 5th tops-off much higher, perhaps an effort at higher fuel-economy rather than a higher top speed. Use a close-ratio or super-close gearbox at courses like Rome, Grindelwäld, Tsukuba, Cote d'Azur, or Autumn Ring, and reserve the car's taller stock gearing for courses with longer track portions. Full-custom gearing really only becomes necessary for those times when the car has lots of power, and also for those who are super-anal about efficiency.

The real-life Civic Si could be bought with a limited-slip as an option. I am thinking this option has been installed in our cars, and so let's take a peek at why.

-----------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-----------------


Now for some real fun.

The Civic starts off slowish but can become a real firecraker once things are bolted in, on, and under. Have you ever raced a front-drive car in real life? Well if you have, you'll know why Gran Turismo programs their dual-shock controllers the way they do. Braking, acceleration, and cornering all depend on the front wheels and tires and their ability to communicate power to the road. Still, it seems PD put just a little more 'shake and shimmy' into this car when they were programming its dual-shock vibration. I recently did a 66-lap Arcade race at the Seattle Short circuit in a Civic Si; afterwards, it felt as though I'd been holding a jackhammer for the past hour!

This aside, you can expect your Civic to handle the road really well...sometimes almost too well. What we have here is a compact which happens to be all wheelbase, with very little front or rear overhang. Maneuverability is key, not just while parallel parking, but also on those racetracks (the tighter and more technical, the better). Though the front end will reliably push if not treated with respect, there is no oversteer with this one. The rear exhibits oversteer which rates just about 'nil'.  

The reason the Civic is such a popular front-drive racer (other than it is light, cheap, and easy to drive) is its front-end. Suspension, steering, and brakes on these cars are really top-rate. Real-life Civics of this generation have an incredibly tight yet light feeling as they're steering and braking  (assuming they've been maintained over the years), even if they have not a modification applied. They love to grip down on the road, giving the driver plenty of communication. Anyone, including grandmothers, should feel confident driving a Civic.

So in the game, these cars will generally do as they're told, especially on sport or slick tires. We don't have to rely on awesomely soft-grade tires in any GT game until we've got our Civic past the level one turbo stage in GT2. There actually may be problems with too much grip in GT2, if super-soft tires (sometimes even softs or mediums) are used, because the light-weight Civic has a habit of holding the road too well. Use sticky tires only if your steering is nicely smooth and rehearsed, otherwise you may find that the Si will tug and jerk when minor mistakes are made with cornering. The cars in GT3, 4, and 5 are also prone to all of this, although in these games, limits are met quicker.

One major major complaint is (ta-dah) understeer! Yes, everybody's favorite.

With sports tires and Stage 1 turbo, the Civic will proudly start to plow just above 60 mph on flat curves, unless gas is kept tamed back. Slick, sports, S3, and soft sport tires will raise the bar, of course, depending which game.  As I intoned earlier, the Civic can and will dominate early races with lowish power and half-baked suspension tuning; amateurs and pros alike are welcome here. Once we're attempting to tackle faster races against real sports cars with rear or all-wheel drive and better power, the Civic can sometimes still keep up, sometimes not. The best defense is to just learn whatever course you're at, and then keep the Civic's racing line thru corners clean. The car's near-perfect steering and excellent brakes are what you'll eventually rely on as you tackle these faster events.

Once you master this car, you'll have the imaginary TVR, Corvette, and Shelby drivers scratching their butts as they kiss some Civic bumper.


purple_civic_gt1.jpeg

---------------------------PROS-------------------------

1). Generally, this is a great car for a beginner (especially when low-powered). Why?

2). No oversteer! Difficult to slide or spin one of these. 

3). Some ordinary civilian Civics (especially Si and SiR models) last a long time in any GT game (as money rolls in for better parts) except GT1: where their racing careers will be limited to Sunday, Clubman, FF, and Lightweight series, unless the driver is extremely skilled and can push further.

4). Turbo and NA engine upgrades available, making the Civic hatch competitive in all but the very lowest and highest levels of racing!

5). Stock gearbox is tweaked for both acceleration and speed. Depending what track you're at, closer gearing can usually be substituted for full-tuning until you're competeing at harder levels.

6). Lightweight...a good pound to power ratio is created even with the 1st turbo upgrade or 2nd NA kit. Race kits available for all Civic hatches in GT1 and 2.

7). It seems a lot of after-market parts for the Civic run a bit cheaper than normal in some games.
8). Good, grippy steering & front-end maneuverability. Oversteer is rare with the correct tires, understeer happens but it's generally controllable.

9). Excellent brakes. Braking while turning into a hard, sharp corner, cranking-in with inches to spare while slyly getting by some arrogant, faster rear-drive...that's what Civic hatches are all about.
  
10). Very affordable. A used Civic of any type can usually be found for less than $10,000 (GT5 less so than the others). New Civics won't break the bank. Some games feature these cars as prizes, too.

11). GT4/5: Fuel-sipping 1.6 liter engine.

12). GT4: these cars can get extra upgrades like a Stage 5 turbo and extra-stiff "org" suspension from some tuner shops other than Mugen.


----------------------------CONS-----------------------

1). Light weight creates stability problems over bumps, curbs, etc.

2). The dual-shock vibration will hammer the hell out of our fingers in an extended race. Where's my soothing aloe-based hand lotion?

3). Understeer or too much front-end grip can both be this car's nemesis at times... sometimes the Civic will need to brake earlier than you'd think, other times the front-end is so grippy it's almost cartoonish. Finding a perfect balance between grip & understeer never happens in some games/circumstances. Nervous  wheelspin also occurs in higher-powered cars, which further destroys any hopes of finding front-end perfection.

4). Stock gearing is too tall for cars with stock engines. Remember to switch to closer gears if you've bought them, they can actually help earlier-on than power upgrades, since close gearing keeps the 1.6 revving closer to its narrow power-band.

5). Watery torque comes with the package as well as that spiky, narrow powerband, since we're dealing with a small engine. Anything below 5,000 rpms is usually death once the Civic is out of 2nd gear.

6). In GT2, the '93 Si hatch winds up getting a race-kit, but it leans towards the "tasteless" side. :)

7). The World Cup or other such races can neve be accomplished in a Civic hatch.

8). The 1.6 is a noisy engine. Some might not appreciate it.

9). Every time I see one of these cars in real life, the driver tries to bum a cigarette off me while 50 Cent blares in the background.
 

Published: August 24th, 2004
Edited for GT4 content: not sure when
GT5 Content:
 

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