Sunday, September 16

You know u drive an Si when...

I figured out a long time ago that i am no "Racer", a spirited driver maybe, but not a racer. Well at least not on the public roads. I've always been mindful (perhaps fearful) of the possibility of crashing, and not to mention putting other peoples lives in danger. Because there is nothing more stupid than crashing your car on a street race, is there? I've always admired the phenomenal abilities of my Racing Heroes, the likes of Michael Schumacher, Dario Franchitti, and the flying Fin himself, Mika Hakkinen (Michael's fiercest rival back in the day...), but never had i tried to emulate them on the public roads. It just isn't safe... Don't get me wrong, i do wide-open-throttles on the open roads on most days (and on-ramps sometimes..) but hardly for the sake of racing or worse to show off. I do it because it's fun and the VTEC scream (somewhere around 5800 rpm's all the way up to 8500) is truly the most beautiful sound this side of all the normally aspirated 4-bangers. And if you disable VSA or the traction control, you could chirp the tires (on the upshift) all the way up to third gear.

I've gotten a few good first-impressions and some not so good. The Civic Si to most people is just a Honda Civic. And without going into specifics, they're not entirely wrong. It is just a Civic-- a spruced up one with about about 4K in performance upgrades. Basically the Civic Si is everything a garden variety Civic would ever hope to be. A glorified Civic so to speak, or better, a Civic on steroids... Some infidels have called it a Hybrid, attributed i'm sure to the the slanted hood and windshield. If you think it looks odd you should check out the European version (The Civic Type R), man that thing is radical. My mom called it a Sports Car (gotta love her) and my Dad loves the 6-speed. "It's got a real strong engine" he said, test driving it without my permission-- i couldn't really get mad i guess ( I did get him back by taking his Mercedes to lunch without his permission). "It's a Civic Si!!" i clamored in defense, to another guy who called it a Hybrid. "A Civic Si... i don't even know what that is" he shrugged-- God, what is wrong with people lol... But i think this one takes the cake (taken from an online forum entitled -- You know u drive an si when...---); "Hey that is a very nice Accord, but why put a wing on it?".

It is good in a way, and bad in a way, that people react in a manner perhaps Honda had never expected or hoped them too. I think being mistaken for a Hybrid is a testament to Honda's modern and innovative design philosophy that neither the automotive public/consumers nor myself had wholeheartedly accepted as norm yet, rather than being a bad thing. I admit, when i first saw a glimpse of the Si prototype online, i was very skeptical. It just didn't look anatomically correct, if you will... But after reading about it and seeing more and more Si's on the road, the little car has grown on me. Lest we forget, Honda and the Civic itself is a seminal being. It isn't the best selling compact coupe/sedan in the US for NO reason. It is the best bang for you buck and is ranked best in resale value. Perhaps it is no longer best in sheer speed in the entry-level compact coupe or sedan segment, but rest assured, it is still the best car your money can get without looking uncool or retarded (as in a Toyota Echo or Dodge Caliber...) and remains the "Standard" in compacts cars...

I do have a few forgivable quips about the car. For instance, while i like that the RPM tachometer is centered behind the steering wheel (ala Porsche), unless you're only Five feet tall, it isn't perfectly eye level (It's below the top of the steering wheel-- a little annoying). The digital-speedometer on the other hand is perched above the RPM tach and is quite perfect. I would prefer it if Honda had swapped them though (Because we tend to look at the RPM tach more than the speedometer anyway, because speed is all relative... need i explain that?). There's a bit of a Rev Hang when you let off the throttle (more pronounced on the 06' model year...), by design, they say, which takes some getting used to. The auto-lock system and the loud beeping when you disengage the seat-belts are probably the most annoying and perhaps most perplexing of all electronic features Honda has ever integrated into their innovative product lines. The doors auto-lock a few seconds after getting in and does not auto-unlock until the engine is turned off and the key is completely removed from the ignition. Kind of a good feature if there is a car-jacker i guess lol. And check out this rather unintelligent feature; the passenger side door does not auto-unlock at all until and unless the driver side door is shut (meaning after the driver had stepped out of the vehicle), leaving most passengers bewildered and somewhat dumbfounded. Believe me if you are forgetful like myself, it gets frustrating (Of course all of this can be easily remedied by manually unlocking the door, but who wants to do that?...). The sound that emits from removing the seatbelt is awfully loud too (and you can't really defy it because it never goes away until you obey!). But on the bright side, it is a good thing because it forces us to keep the seat belts on... That's smart of you ask me!

So how about what i like about the car? I promise to keep this to a minimum and try not to talk about the cars obvious and already mentioned sporty attributes from previous blogs (lol). Despite the random third-gear pop-out issue (which can be remedied by replacing the tranny fluid with synthetic oil-- i've ordered the Amsoil syncromesh MTF-- Not cheap btw!), i really like the smooth shifting gearbox, especially the "thud" into 3rd and 4th gears. I wonder why only those two gears make that thudding noise though, hmm... Steering feels real precise, well until you really push the car to its limits, then it gets pretty interesting with under-steer and all (can be fixed with a sway bars of course), although it is a natural tendency with most if not all FWD vehicles anyway. I found this out the hard way by the way when i came into a corner way too hot one time lol (Traction control saved me, whew!...). I think the seats are great despite what other owners are saying about it. So what if it doesn't repel anything? In that car, all that matters is the amount of support on lateral G's, isn't it? (lol). Just make sure you don't have an open drink in the car man! I also like the stiff suspension setup, i grin every time the car reacts rather harshly to road camber and imperfections... That's how she rolls.


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