Before I got this car I had a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 which I love(d). But once I started grad school and began driving close to 400 miles per week, I needed something more economical but because I'm a car nut and feel that my car is a strong reflection of myself the list of cars I could afford, actually wanted and would save me enough money was veeeeery small.
I was about to get a Mini cooper when the owners bailed and then I came across a gold 2002 Civic Si on craigslist. Owner was asking $5000 which I felt was a bit high but because it was so clean and very stock I really didn't want to pass it up so I shelled out the money.
Being my first stick shift, it took me a few days to be able to drive the car proficiently and really enjoy what an awesome machine it is. Coming from my Jeep which was basically a 4wd muscle car (big engine, crude suspension and really only good in a straight line) to this car was like going from a hovercraft to a go-cart. This thing handles phenomenally well. (My car has lower, stiffer springs on it mind you). The seats hold you in tight and so far the car has only asked me to push it harder. Where my jeep was happiest at 1/3 to 3/4 throttle, the Civic Si is happiest when you're revving the nuts off of it. The car is a bit sluggish from a stop and 1st gear is really short but from then on it is just a blast. Surprisingly it does have some torque steer. I would highly recommend a cold air intake on this car if nothing else just for the induction noise. At about 3k rpm you get the start of a great engine growl what just gets bigger an louder especially once the vtec kicks in. But (on the stock exhaust) it's quiet enough for me to finally enjoy some classical music on the highway (when you aren't driving like Paul Walker of course).
The clutch is nice and light but very squeeky and bites in the upper half/upper third of the travel. The shifter could be notchier and have less play but the car does have 92000 miles on it.
It isn't the fastest thing in the world, in fact my old jeep is probably faster, but that is not at all why I bought the civic. I'd already had a car that was fast but I found that I rarely ever got to use all the power and because it was an automatic, the only time I really ever enjoyed the car was when I was flooring it (which was almost never). The 2002 civic si is fast enough where giving it the full berries is just as much fun as it was in the jeep but I'm not breaking the speed limit...as much. This is going to sound really odd but because the civic si is a bit slower, I can savor the sensation of acceleration and that wonderful induction noise for longer before I need to stamp on the brakes. Not to mention that every time you turn the wheel it's like carving a hole in the laws of physics. The trade off of course is ride quality. I would not say it is uncomfortable but you are going to know exactly where the town didn't do such a good job paving the roads.
If you value getting to 60 in under 6 seconds, going on road trips with 3 of your friends or being whisked to your destination surrounded by Egyptian cotton and duck down don't buy this car.
But if you are someone who says "I GET to drive an hour each way to...", who wants a car that will reward you when you push it and encourage you to push it harder while doing 30 mpg highway and being as reliable as a sun dial on a clear summer day then you really need look no further. If you can find one that hasn't been modded up the yin yang and thrashed by...well me.
This car is a gem. I've driven it from 55K to 130K in 4 years, and I've had only minor repairs (O2 sensor, lock actuators), plus 4 new struts. The front seats are so good that even a long drive on the stiff suspension feels fine, and the car handles smoothly and well on windy roads, in rain, in wind, even pretty well in snow. The engine has a terrific balance of torque and smooth operation up 75MPH, without having to downshift all the time -- but they should have included a 6th gear; at 80MPH, its revving high and loud at about 4000RPM, which gets tiresome and wastes gas if you're keeping up with fast traffic (e.g., Atlanta). I've fit a mid-sized armchair in the hatch, and had 2 adults ride in the back for an hour (it was cramped, but doable).
I have owned this vehicle for just
over 6 months now and I simply find it
a pleasure to drive everyday. I use
the car for commuting (approx. 50
miles per day) and it is wonderfully
spacious for a hatchback when I go
shopping on the weekends. The interior
is very simple yet tastefully
appointed (the bucket seats may take a
little time to get used to) and all
major options (power windows/locks, CD
player, power moonroof, etc.) are
standard. I usually average between 29-
31 miles per gallon (combination of
city and highway driving), on regular
SI is a civic all grown up with all the bells and whistles. Had a 95 with 145000, ran perfect when I sold it. Just rusted. This car has good pick up even in fifth gear. Gas mileage is decent, use the cruise control. Better features inside, cup holders etc. than older models.
I was the second owner of this car, the previous people decided it needed some upgrades but never completed with a turbo (pity). I drive 30 miles one way to work and get on average 32-35 mpg, can't beat that! I have never had any major problems with the car, would recommend to anyone looking at a Civic Si of this style or anything with good MPG.