King of the streets: keeping things simple

Honda Civic SI
Honda Civic SI

“You don’t have to be rich, just smart.” That was the slogan for the Twice-a-Year Ikea sale. For many of us, it was just a catchy phrase. Yet for others, they live by it.

For many people, racing sports means big fancy cars from Italy, V-10 engines, Kyle Busch, or the image of dozens of sleek rocketship-shaped vehicles going around in a big circle. For the average non-league racer, key calendar events such as the Detroit Auto Show or the 24 Hour of Le Mans determine what car they should buy or what features to install in their current set of wheels.

Not all of us can afford to buy an Audi R8, turbo-charge it, add a cold air intake system, and still be able to pay for the premium case the vehicle consumes. As the economy continues downward, racers find cheaper and more ingenious methods of satisfying their adrenaline rush. Yet ultimately, it all falls down to the car they begin with.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you the Honda Civic SI.

The Honda Civic is an uninspiring bottom-of-the-line household vehicle that can hit sixty miles per hour in about nineteen seconds—not very impressive and not ideal for racers who require power. With a bigger demand for speedy little cars, Honda Motors came out with the Civic SI and Civic Type R (the Type R is not sold in the US), with the SI as the highest performing Civic offered in the market. The turbocharged four cylinder SI can make the 0-60 mark in 6.3 seconds—not bad compared to the Dodge Charger running at five seconds or the Audi R8 at 4.8 seconds; V-8 and V-10 engines respectively.

According to the official Honda website, the K20Z33 mill engine produces about 197 horsepower, according to the official Honda website, a nearly forty horsepower improvement over the previous models running the old EP3’s 160 horsepower K02A3. The upgraded transmission runs up to six gears, practically begging for drivers to push the car to its limit.

Still, the advantage in the Civic SI is not the fact that it was built cute and zippy, but the enormous aftermarket demand millions of Civic drivers all over the world created in the zeal to turn their regular car into a racing machine.

While space under the hood is limited, upgrades such as the GReddy’s XS Engineering’s Dynojet can pump an additional 66 horsepower into the engine. GReddy even has a 375 horsepower turbo kit ready for future SI models that can handle it. AJP and TSI both boast up to fifty or more horsepower with their turbo kits. If turbo is not enough then perhaps an intake system might help. An intake system helps cool down the engine and adds additional oxygen to the combustion engine. AEM, K&N Typhoon, Password: JDM, and Injen all offer products from regular to cold air intakes that promise anywhere from seven to 12 additional horsepower.

The SI is literally the toy of a thousand parts. Performance and superficial modifications include headers, exhausts, pulleys, injectors, fuel rails, blow off valves, short shifters, cams, flywheels, lowering kits, fog lights, performance wheels, anti-UV tinting, and a seven speaker stereo system, – all basic necessities on the shopping list of the average SI racer.

Many wonder how the SI truly fair against a powerful opponent like the Chevy Corvette, which boasts a 6.2 liter V-8 engine, 430 horsepower, and running a multi-joint injection system, or the Lamborghini Murcielago, with 6.5 liter V-12 engine, producing an astounding 632 horsepower. This is where the “get smart” mantra kicks in.

While the SI probably cannot defeat one of these high-profile opponents in a straight line race, it has can perform like few others. Forward-oriented cars such as the Lamborghini and Ford Mustang can rarely perform as well as the SI in a non-race track environment, such as night time city streets or Seatac airport’s parking garage. East Mercer Island Way is another great twisty race course. Nowadays, racing in a straight line has the wit equivalency to a no-foot-movement boxing match.

If you seek to beat an SI racer, the best turn for turn matches are the Nissan GTR, Skyline, Silvia, Honda Prelude, Acura RSX, Toyota Corolla XRS, or Mitsubishi Lancer. Also, the police force attested that the Ford Crown Victoria can pull off a few upset victories as well.