Sunday, April 12, 2015

4k: Honda's Other Hot Hatch: 2004 Honda Civic Si

While you weren't looking, the last Honda Civic hatchback sold in America has become the best economy performance bargain on the market. From its 2002 introduction until now, you, along with the automotive media and buying public, wrote it off for its insulated driving experience and honey-I-shrunk-the-minivan looks. Even though it was designed to address the previous EM1 Civic Si's shortcomings: too loud, too peaky, too darty, and as a coupe, too impractical. The car market is indeed a moving target. If your goals have shifted from "How can I outrun Brody's Eclipse GSX from a 60 roll" to "What car won't make me the laughing stock of water cooler conversations?" and you're not quite to "Will this impress Debra at our 30-year high school reunion?", then the EP3 is your moving target's new bullseye. Find this 2004 EP3 Honda Civic Si for sale in Dover, NJ for $3,800 via craigslist. 


Last week, Honda made headlines when it announced the return of the Honda Civic Type-R to America. This EP3 generation also had a Type-R. Its new K-series engine displaced two liters, revved to 8,100, and generated 200 horsepower thanks to an evolved, intelligent form of VTEC. But that engine never made it to the states. The UK-built body and suspension did, along with the dash-mounted shifter (don't knock it until you try it) and bolstered seats with Alcantara suede, but the engine bay was saddled with the K20A3, a variant with lower compression, less aggressive cams and cam timing, and "true VTEC" only on one cam. The result was a useful bump in torque and tractability over the previous model, but a paltry 6,800 redline. More importantly to the enthusiast community, no dramatic VTEC kick. It also weighed about one passenger more than the outgoing Si, and lacked the excellent double-wishbone front suspension. It was hardly the same car.


Think of this Civic Si, then, not as a Civic Si, but as a base Civic. Its 15.9-cubic foot trunk, before folding the seats down, shames the 11.9 feet of the EM1. As a standalone body style, not much of it is compatible with lower Civics, so the chance of theft is theoretically reduced. Plus (and this is a big one for bargain hunters), you don't need premium fuel. Assuming an average of 15,000 miles a year and gas at $2,39/gallon for regular and $2.79 for premium (according to FuelGaugeReport.com), that's an annual savings of $200.


For all its subtlety, there are three reminders that this is indeed still a Civic Si. 1. Car guys know it's an Si. You will be revved at. 2. Most examples have been riced or stanced into oblivion. 3. Insurance costs are still relatively high. Your individual results may vary. Even with relatively high miles, this EP3 comes with a clean title, no rust, no modifications, and 2004's mid-cycle updates for under $4k. But heed this warning: your pizza delivery guy with the stanced pre-EF hatch may disapprove.


See another underrated car for cheap? Email us at tips@dailyturismo.com.

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.

37 comments:

  1. Two fantastic cars in a row? What is this and where am I?

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  2. Great car, though fuel economy that doesn't even break into the 30s will have me looking for a five-speed 2000-2001 Honda Insight first. Or maybe a Fit.

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  3. Replies
    1. I will always prefer a hatch in a smaller car, usually a wagon in a larger car though I've had a bunch of sedans as well.

      But something Civic-size? Never a sedan.

      Hell, if a hatchback's good enough for Tesla...

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    2. For this convo, hatch all day. Tesla *almost* has the hatch-as-a-lust-object-of-the-masses down but not quite; imo the rear fenders don't quite sell the shape as particularly sexy. For me the intrinsic attraction of a well-executed hatch is its juxtaposition of aestheticism and practicality, the secret sauce made even sweeter when a capable drivetrain is incorporated into the formula.

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    3. Interesting points, Doctordel. I think it's fascinating that lots of people don't even realize the Tesla is a hatchback (well it's really a liftback, but who cares).

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    4. I prefer coupes - and I mean a proper 2 door coupe and not this 4 door grand coupe malarkey that the Germans have been perpetrating. Sorry, that is a sedan. After that, I prefer a 3 door hatch over a 5 door hatch. However most of my fellow countryman seem to disagree. The Fiesta and Focus ST isn't available here in 3 door and I read starting this year the GTI can only be gotten here in the States as a 5 door. Then there is that hideous 4 door hardtop MINI, ugh...

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    5. Well, the Germans have to do something to spice up their cars.

      You're right in that the current trend is 5- over 3-doors. But you know as well as I know that you know that I know that we know that trends always go in circles. Guess what will be back in a couple of years? Yep, you betcha; 3-doors. It's interesting that they've been trying to bring back personal luxury coupes lately but it doesn't seem to be getting much traction.

      Occasionally I overhear someone make a comment that they'd rather throw up than buy a 5-door or wagon version of the cars you mentioned. That one always catches me by surprise because 1) I don't care what other people think of what I drive and 2) they give up all that utility for what....? But no, they HAVE to have the sedan variant. Still, it's their money, so who am I to question.

      So, how did it go with Mrs. G? Did you guys get to check out any Subarus or Mazdas over the weekend?

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    6. Reflecting on what Toyota has done in this space, I'm sure Ford has paid very close attention to what they've done also. Wagons seemingly haven't done well historically. Don't tell Subaru that, though.

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    7. Get rid of all the show silliness and it's interesting what we're left with. I hate to say it, but it's pretty fugly.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/TPbaOrQ.jpg?1[/img]

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    8. The more I look at the pics of the modern Civic Si models, the more the coupe looks better and better. Still, I don't know. There's something missing. As I've written before here on DT, this, the car below, is what I should have bought instead of my first (and last!) new car.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/PaYpTZ8.jpg?1[/img]

      But none of them have beaten this gen. Everything works so well on this shape and it was hugely utilitarian to boot(ha!). Pity the rust issues.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/1wYFAW2.jpg?1[/img]

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  4. Coupe.....sedan needs a classic trunk and a hatch , although the glass is included in the trunk lid on this one, needs a larger more angled opening.

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  5. Tom, is the trunk lid too short for you on the sedan?

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  6. I would always opt for a hatch on a small(er) car. It just transforms the usability.

    It is beyond me to understand why Ford USA insists on producing four-door sedan versions of the Focus and Fiesta. For crying out loud, on the immediately previous generation of Focus, they did not even offer a hatch variant. And don't get me started about them dropping the Focus wagon, which has to be one of THE most useful cars built in the last 15 years. /EndSoapBox.

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    1. +1, B! I completely agree. But as an article I just read stated (paraphrasing here), "Americans hate hatchbacks...but love CUVs".

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    2. Yeah, what got me most about dropping the Focus wagon is that the excuse was: "Americans don't buy small wagons". However, on the Canadian market, almost 1/3 of Focus sales were wagons. I was rather peeved....

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    3. Why did they pull the wagon from the Canadian market? Is it because they stopped making it? Does it correspond with the shift in 2008 (hatch and wagons dropped)? But then the 5-door hatch came back (and remains) on the scene in 2012 so I'm a bit confused...was the wagon such a bombdiggety that even the 5-door hatch can't replace it in Canadian eyes?

      If the lack of US sales did cause the drop of a popular model variant in Canada, that does indeed suck. But it's true (or is it?); Americans don't want traditional station wagons, no matter the size. We can all carp and moan over it, then go look at how many are actually for sale. The number will surprise you if you haven't already calculated the total. So, while I don't think anybody would argue that Americans hate wagons and hatchbacks, we seem to keep buying them and manufacturers keep offering them...so what the heck is the truth here?

      I believe that certain negative things (Fiero!) just keep getting perpetuated by the media and enthusiasts to such an extent that the logic is just universally accepted. But the truth is that Americans DO love wagons and hatchbacks - just as much as anybody! And companies keep making. And we keep buying them. And the lie keeps perpetuating. Even though it couldn't be farther than the truth.

      It's an urban myth; I, for one, am not going to perpetuate it any further. Wagons and hatches are here to stay, they're for sale, I own one, I'll probably buy another one in the future and there will be plenty to choose from.

      Stretch the mind to include CUVs (I do - because they are wagons and hatchbacks) and the list becomes enormous.

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    4. Yep, they were not willing to incur the cost for a Canada-only model. I am glad to see the 5-door back in the Focus line-up, but in Europe, there is a wagon version that is not offered in N.A.

      [img]http://www.focusst.org/forum/attachments/focus-st-news/30210d1389287376-ford-focus-st-estate-mountune-review-2014-onwards-yellow.jpg[/img]

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    5. A great looking wagon, for sure. But I think you can get my drift in that Ford currently (used models aside) sells the Fiesta, Focus and C-Max...all in 5-doors. Need more room? They'll just boot you up to the more profitable CUVs. So there's really no point in bringing the lovely yellow wagon pictured above to the States (and thus Canada). The difference in a few cargo cubic feet wouldn't be worth the cannibalization of those other models, IMO. I don't know what the numbers are on the new overseas estate, but I doubt they're better than the 124.2 cu.ft. of the C-Max, so even that argument is moot.

      Ford has yet to return my calls regarding my opinion of their global marketing plans. I'm not sure why because I can see the future of all things. ;-)

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    6. I still haven't driven one yet and I want to.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/0eFjl5L.jpg?1[/img]

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    7. Wish you could get it and its little brother the Fiesta, in a 3 door.

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  7. If Ford were to allow us to have the Modeo (Fusion) Estate and GM to allow us to have the Insignia (Regal) Estate with the engine choices that are available overseas (including their high performance and diesel variances) it would be a very quick way for them to
    a)introduce diesel into their product lineup with engines that already pass Euro-diesel emissions
    b) capture segment that they are forfeiting to VW (which has narrowed its selection by dropping the Passat from the US lineup) and Subaru
    Love me some hot longroof!

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    1. Me too but they'd be cannibalizing sales of other models if they brought in the Mondeo and Insignia estates. There isn't much compelling reason from a what's currently on the sales floor viewpoint. They've covered most of those bases and they'd be losing money over the models they can up-sell/stick Americans with.

      Overcoming the diesel stigma is another story, right or wrong.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Might as well post some piccys to go along with the discussion. Frankly, I like them all. The different shapes reflect the times, with the sedan being the most modern. That doesn't mean I think it's the best.

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/tXWoeJ7.jpg?1[/img]

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/JlaQiET.jpg?1[/img]

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  9. Hatchbacks....... and I'll raise you.....a 1978 Honda CVCC

    [img]http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/accord.jpg[/img]

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    1. First Oates scratches the paint on my Fiero, now this chick has her heels on my bumper? Will the madness never end? Looking past the attractive young lady, I noticed the roof rack (heh heh, get your mind out of the gutter). Bizarre. Here's a shot of a gorgeous example I took at the AACA last summer.

      [img]http://i.imgur.com/HY2QFKs.jpg?1[/img]

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  10. The Focus wagon sold well here in the old-crufty-Focus days, and the VW wagon - Jetta-now-Golf - sells just fine, if you're not looking for 200K unit numbers.

    As for shapes, yeah, Woodie Man's shape gets the woodie.

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  11. @K2......my apologies for the posting. In my haste to find an appropriate CVCC my mind wandered....though not nearly as far as yours

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    1. No worries! Doesn't bother me one bit. Don't know if it does anybody else but that's not my business.

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  12. I Forgot to add...... My '76 (or earlier or later up to '78) was a wicked fast race ready orange with flat black hood I bought from yes believe it or not,,,,,Woodys Garage....in San Diego. I drove it through law school before selling it to my friend who I beleve took it back to New Haven ......so somewhere in New Haven...Conn. Probably in a yard is the rusting hulk of a clearly unique looking CVCC

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  13. k2: a 1967 VW window bus......cherry n original....I took a body destroyed 66 Westphalia n transplanted it into the cherry ''67.....the most beautiful n unique 23 window bus....then came a '63 Impetial....then a '60 Cadillac limousine bought from the estate of a deposed Mexican President from the 1940's......a '72 2002 sunroof that I dropped a 5 speed into.....and on and on..........

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  14. ALL typos are automatically forgiven on DT! There, I just made a rule. Nobody but me agrees to it though, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Those are some cool cars! That would be a fun DT subject (DTers listing all of their cars) but we'd blow up the interwebz with only a fraction, I'm sure!

    It's scary to think about what VW window buses are going for these days...

    Which was your favorite?

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  15. Geez I don't know..I was skipping around. Left out the '63 Lincoln Continental, the '65 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, the Fiat Spyder, the Fiat Coupe,...the '60 TBird...the '60 MGA....the '53 MGYB...funny thing is , in forty some odd years I dont consider myself a "flipper" as I drove them all for a period of years sometimes overlapping each other .My tastes are pretty catholic. I get a bug up my exhaust and I go looking for a car. Much more difficult now as I look at the value of cars very differently than the marketplace does, and things have gotten way out of hand. Like many of us here on DT and other similar car nut centric sites, I like to think our view of cars is much more organic and transcends the auction investment mentality that pervades todays world. That said, the two sitting in my garage, a '47 Ford Woodie and a '70 911 T, are in such a place that I could never replace them and I admit that reality dictates a completely different view towwards them than I once had. Sic Transit Gloria.

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