1992 Honda Civic

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1992 Honda Civic
Available in 7 styles:  Civic 2dr Hatchback shown
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    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

By 

Orlando Sentinel

The new Honda Civic Si is one of the best small cars you can buy. And it comes with almost everything you could want - except a small price.

For about the same money it takes to buy a well-equipped Civic Si, you could also buy a Ford Probe, a Hyundai Sonata, a Mazda MX-6, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera or a Plymouth Acclaim, all of which are larger and, in some cases, more powerful.

But if you like small cars that handle well, offer slingshot like acceleration and have tasteful styling, you would be hard pressed to find a car that does it better than the Civic Si.

Honda has introduced a new line of Civics for 1992, and in doing so, the Japanese company once again has set the standard by which all other small cars will be judged.

PERFORMANCE

The engine is the best part of any Honda - car or motorcycle.

Over the years, Honda's engineers have demonstrated an uncanny knack for building one terrific engine after another and for pioneering new technology.

The Civic Si's 16-valve four-cylinder continues that tradition.

The vehicle comes with a 1.6-liter overhead cam engine that develops 125 horsepower and uses advanced technology to vary the operation of the engine's eight intake valves.

On most cars, the intake and exhaust valves open and close at preset times during every revolution of the engine. The intake valve allows the fuel and air mixture into the engine's cylinder where it is ignited by the spark plug. The exhaust valve lets out the burned gases. The distance and duration the valves open never vary.

But Honda engineers discovered that an engine will run more efficiently if the operation of the intake valves is fine-tuned to the speed of the engine.

Honda's system of variable timing works like this: At lower engine speeds, valve timing is mild to allow for good midrange power. But between 5,000 and 5,500 rpm, the engine's intake valves open sooner, farther and for longer, and that, according to Honda,enables the engine to deliver higher performance without sacrificing fuel economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Civic Si at 29 miles per gallon in city driving and 35 on the highway.

I drove with all the enthusiasm the law allows and attained 33 mpg in the city and 37 on a trip from Orlando to Daytona Beach and back.

The Si is a blast to drive in every situation. In traffic jams, the engine idles so smoothly that you would think there was a sewing machine under the hood.

On the highway, cracking the throttle opens the barn door and lets loose a stampede of horses that pulls the car up to the legal limit quickly.

Car And Driver tested a Civic Si and clocked a 0-to-60-mph time of 9.4 seconds. That's more than enough performance to keep pace with most other cars in the Civic's class, such as the Toyota Paseo and Dodge Colt.

The test car came with a smooth-shifting, five-speed manual transmission.

However, reverse, which is loc ated in the lower right side of the shift gate, should be equipped with a lock-out. It is too easy to grind gears accidentally when coming out of fifth.

HANDLING

A four-wheel independent suspension, standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and disc brakes on all four wheels allows the car to be driven aggressively.

If pushed, however, the Civic will oversteer; that is, the front wheels will have more traction than the rear wheels while cornering fast. In a fast curve the rear of the car could slide, but not dangerously. Some drivers like this trait.

But in normal driving the car always retains its poise.

Isolating road noise and minor bumps are two areas where the new Civic Si stands out. Many other small cars I have tested have come up short here.

FIT AND FINISH

This year's Civic Si is 3 inches longer than last year's model, and that helps make it one of the more comfortable small cars.

It appears as if Honda usedt at added room to expand the rear seat area. The Civic is one of the few small cars that can accommodate rear passengers with at least some acceptable degree of comfort. There is a moderate amount of leg and foot room for average-sized adults, but head room still is tight.

Up front, there is ample room, even for 6-footers. The driving position allows for excellent visibility. The driver has an unobstructed view over the steering wheel and hood, and out of the rear.

The test car came with several items that helped justify its high price: A power sunroof and side mirrors, air conditioning, rear window wiper and powerful AM/FM stereo cassette.

More importantly, the Civic Si also came with a driver's side air bag, which is standard on every Civic this year.

Unlike other hatchbacks, the Civic features a two-piece tailgate. It operates just like the tailgate on a large station wagon: The bottom portion opens down to allow easy loading, while the glass upper portion swings up and out. The cargo area has a cover to conceal items stored behind the rear seat.

As with other Hondas, the dash is simple and user-friendly. It is punctuated by a stylish set of white-on-black analog gauges. The air-conditioner controls are in the center of the dash and are easy to reach and use.

All in all, the Civic Si is a hatchback with style. It offers great performance, good fuel economy and something few other manufacturers can match: Honda's track record for reliability.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 2

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