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Exterior Impressions

>Honda's stated theme for the exterior design is "Solid & Dynamic". You've already seen the photos, and the feedback we've heard from TOV readers has been somewhat lukewarm. As with most Hondas, the car does look better in person, but the design is still a bit awkward. The front end features an extremely short hood (completely invisible from the driver's seat), coupled with large headlamps (reminiscent of the Focus), and a very short overhang. The rest of the front clip is rather pedestrian looking, with few sporting cues. People (including myself) seem to like the looks of the aero pieces of the Civic Type R, but (unfortunately) Honda currently has no plans to offer this body kit as an accessory. Chalk that one up as another missed profit opportunity.

Heading towards the rear of the car, things improve a bit, culminating in an attractive and fairly distinctive rump. The rear bumper has an "integrated skirt" and is finished with a twin chrome-tipped exhaust. The diameter of the exhaust tips is just about right - suggesting "performance", rather than "peashooter" or "Folger's Crystals".

Most exterior dimensions have been slightly reduced compared to the previous Si, with the main exception being the height, which is about 2.4 inches taller than before. The table below summarizes the differences in exterior dimensions:

Dimension 2002 Si 2000 Si 2000 H/B

Wheelbase (in.)

101.2

103.2

103.2

Length (in.)

165.6

175.1

164.2

Height (in.)

56.5

54.1

54.1

Width (in.)

66.7

67.1

67.1

Track (in. f/r)

57.9/57.9

58.1/58.1

58.1/58.1

Curb Weight (lbs)

2744

2612

2388

Since the 2002 Civic Si was designed and styled in Europe, it's no surprise that the look is reminiscent of many Euro hatches. Some of the Euro details you might notice are the side marker lamps and "city lights". These little items typically receive high marks from the target audience - one of the most common exterior modifications you'll see on Accords, Integras, and Civics is the addition of Euro-style side marker lamps. When viewed directly from the rear, the taillights appear semi-triangular in shape, with circular brake and reverse lights within the housing. The U.S. DOT mandated CHMSL (Center High Mounted Stop Lamp) is located inside the rear window, just below the modest spoiler. While the overall design of the car says "economy car", the execution screams "quality". With the new Civic Si, Honda engineers paid particular attention to dramatically reducing the manufacturing tolerances of the car, and even in the pre-production prototypes it seems their efforts have paid off. The following table bears out these results:

Metric 2002 Si 2000 Si Improvement

Body/bumper gap

0.5 mm

3 mm

83%

Tail lamp/bumper gap

1 mm

3 mm

67%

Headlight/bumper gap

1 mm

3 mm

67%

Fuel filler door/body gap

3

4

25%

Door/body gaps

3.5-4.0 mm

5.0-5.5 mm

30%

Citing their strong belief that most (of the expected 15000) US Si buyers would replace the stock wheels and tires no matter how they looked, Honda people explained away the rather drab OEM 15" split 5-spoke wheels. The design would probably work better in a larger diameter and with a brighter brushed aluminum finish, but as equipped, the wheels will likely be frowned upon by the intended market. It wouldn't surprise me to see Honda's accessory group picking up the slack here.



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