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Redesigned for 2001, the new Honda Civic Coupe Si is the top-of-the-line Civic Coupe model with a 127 horsepower VTEC 1.7 litre four cylinder engine. It offers new styling, more interior room, a new engine, and a new suspension. Civic Coupe Si models range in price from $19,800 to $22,300.

Sporty coupe redesigned for 2001

Like the 2001 Honda Civic sedan which I reported on in an earlier Test-Drive, the 2001 Civic Coupe has also been completely redesigned for the 2001 model year. Built on the same platform as the 2001 sedan, the new coupe has revised exterior and interior styling, increased cabin space, a larger trunk, a new 1.7 litre engine (VTEC in Si models), new front and rear suspension, and improved performance over last year’s model.

Civic DX and LX Coupes have the same standard engine as the new Civic sedan, a new 115 horsepower 1.7 litre four cylinder engine. Coupe Si models have a 127 horsepower 1.7 litre four cylinder engine with VTEC, Honda’s variable valve timing system. The new 1.7 litre VTEC engine has the same horsepower as last year’s 1.6 litre VTEC engine, but it has more torque which improves throttle responsiveness at lower speeds.

The entry-level Coupe DX has been reduced in price by $500, partly to compensate for the loss of the cheaper hatchback bodystyle which was discontinued this year. Even so, the 2001 Civic Coupe DX model ($15,800) is not sparsely-equipped – it comes with such features as standard power steering and AM/FM stereo.

2001 Honda Civic LX coupe
2001 Honda Civic LX coupe
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The new Civic Coupe LX trim level ($17,800) includes such standard features as air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, CD player and anti-lock brakes. The top-of-the-line Civic Si ($19,800) has the more powerful 127-horsepower VTEC engine, 15 inch tires and alloy wheels, moonroof, and CD player. Curiously, anti-lock brakes are optional on the Si Coupe. The high-performance Civic SiR Coupe is not offered this year and will be replaced by a high-performance SiR hatchback model next year.

Coupe appeals to younger buyers

As you might expect, the two-door Civic Coupe appeals to a much younger buyer than the four-door Civic sedan. According to Honda Canada’s buyer information, sedan buyers are typically in their late 30’s and about 60 percent are married. Civic Coupe buyers are, on average, less than 30 years old, and about 55 percent of Coupe buyers are female. Only one-third of Coupe buyers are married.

Though the Coupe looks similar to the Sedan, it has a lower roofline and the windshield and rear window are more sharply angled. The Coupe also features a unique front grille and larger rear taillights.

Compared to last year’s Civic Coupe, the 2001 model is about the same length and width but the windshield has been moved further forwards creating a larger cabin with more legroom. In addition, the floor is now flat.

The 2001 Coupe also has a wider trunk opening so that sporting equipment and baby strollers can be more easily stowed. As well, a new, more compact rear suspension has increased the size of the trunk by one cubic foot.

Mechanical upgrades

The Civic Coupe DX and LX models have a redesigned 115 horsepower 1.7 litre SOHC 16 valve four cylinder engine, and the Coupe Si has a new 127 horsepower 1.7 litre SOHC 16 valve four cylinder powerplant with VTEC, a variable valve timing system which improves engine efficiency and torque.
The new 1.7 litre VTEC engine has the same horsepower as last year’s 1.6 litre VTEC engine but torque has increased from 107 lb.-ft. at 5500 rpm to 114 lb.-ft. at a more usable 4800 rpm. Fuel economy is slightly better than last year – an excellent 7.7 l/100 km (37 mpg) in the city and 6.2 l/100 km (46 mpg) on the highway with the manual transmission. All Civic engines now meet California’s stringent ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standard.

2001 Honda Civic Coupe Si
As well, engine service intervals for oil changes are now 8,000 kilometres or every 6 months and spark plugs only need replacement every 176,000 kilometres or 84 months.

For 2001, the standard 5-speed manual has shorter, more precise throws while the electronically-controlled 4-speed automatic provides more precise shifting than before.

Both front and rear suspensions are new. The 2001 Coupe has a new MacPherson strut front suspension (replacing double wishbones) which, thanks to a new centralized steering unit, allows longer, high-mounted tie rods for improved toe control. At the rear is a new, more compact, double wishbone rear suspension which improves trunk space and ride. In addition, ride comfort has been improved by reducing spring rates of the front and rear.

Honda’s unique “effort sensitive” power steering system was also modified for 2001. It now offers more “power” assist at lower engine speeds to make parking easier, and reduced assist as engine speed increases for improved steering feel.

Changes to the interior

The interior of the Civic Coupe has increased in size by 2 1/2 percent pushing it into the compact class from the subcompact class. As well, the Coupe’s revised interior features larger front seats, a silver coloured instrument panel, larger round gauges, illuminated power window switches, bigger cupholders, more leg and hip room, and new “doughnut” style head restraints.

There’s also a number of important safety upgrades. The front airbags are now dual-stage for both low and high-speed crashes. The front seatbelts have new seatbelt pre-tensioners, and there’s a new centre rear three-point seat belt.

For child seats, there’s a new “LATCH” system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) which includes a tether anchor point on rear window shelf, and a lower anchor bar at the seat bottom.

Driving impressions

2001 Honda Civic Coupe Si
The Civic Coupe has a comfortable driving position with good visibility to the front and side – but like most coupes, rear visibility is hampered by a high rear deck. It’s easy to find a good driving position – a manually height-adjustable driver’s seat and tilt steering wheel adjust for drivers of most height ranges. A handy fold-down armrest on the right-side of the driver’s seat allows the driver to rest the arm while steering – however this is best used for freeway cruising because it gets in the way when shifting (not a worry with an automatic transmission).

Getting into the rear seat is assisted by a sliding passenger seat, and the rear seat has a surprising amount of headroom and legroom – but it’s only wide enough for two passengers rather than three.

As with the previous Coupe, the centre control panel protrudes towards the driver and all controls are easy to reach. In particular, the three dials for heater/ventilation/fan speed are positioned in a vertical lineup just to the right of the steering wheel, and are easy to adjust. Buttons for the sunroof, cruise control and power mirrors are found on the lower left dash – the outside mirrors are heated by the way.

My car had the standard manual five-speed transmission – the gear lever is nicely positioned for reach and the shifting experience is even better than before, which was already good. Shift effort is light and the throws are relatively short. Unlike a lot of manual transmission-equipped cars, you could drive around town all day and not get tired of shifting this transmission. Clutch pedal effort was medium-effort, but could be lighter in my opinion.

I found the power-assisted ‘effort-sensitive’ steering very light at slow speeds, which added to the ease of urban driving – while at higher speeds, it was firm and sporty. Turn-in response is quick, and the Coupe’s turning circle of 11.2 metres (36.7 ft.) is reasonably tight, though it could be tighter for such a small car.

Standard front disc/rear drum brakes with optional ABS seems inadequate for a performance coupe like this, but I found braking performance to be consistent and fade-free, due in part to the Coupe’s light 1162 kg curb weight. The Automobile Journalist Association of Canada reports a 100 km/h to 0 braking distance of 43 metres (141 ft.), about average in this class.

The Si’s 127 horsepower 1.7 litre VTEC engine offers brisk but not especially quick acceleration – 0 to 100 km/h takes about 9.0 seconds. That’s about a half second slower than the VW GTI 1.8T, Nissan Sentra SE, and Chrysler Neon R/T. Above 4000 rpm, the engine is rather noisy and some vibration enters the cabin. For 2001, Honda added more insulation and foam to help reduce engine noise – they claim engine noise has been reduced by 3 decibels. It is quieter than last year’s Si, but it’s still not quite where it should be, in my opinion.

However, for most day to day driving chores, the engine is rarely revved above 4000 rpm, so noise isn’t usually a concern. At a cruising speed of 100 km/h, the engine does 3000 rpm, and is quiet and smooth.

2001 Honda Civic Coupe Si
Overall, I wasn’t that impressed with the VTEC engine when compared to the standard non-VTEC engine. The VTEC engine seems noisier and doesn’t feel like it has much more power. Though it has 12 more horsepower than the standard 1.7 litre engine, it has almost the same amount of torque (114 lb-ft @ 4800 vs 110 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm) so throttle responsiveness isn’t significantly better.

In conclusion, I would say the Civic Si is a fun car to drive – it has nimble handling, quick steering, and a slick manual transmission, but you really have to rev the engine high to extract power from it – it lacks the low-end torque of engines like VW’s 1.8 litre turbocharged four and Chrysler’s 2.0 litre four cylinder engine.

Price and features

The base price for a Honda Civic Coupe DX is $15,800, the Civic Coupe LX is $17,800, and the Civic Coupe Si is $19,800.

Standard equipment on the Coupe Si includes the 127 horsepower 1.7 litre VTEC four cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 185/65R-15 inch radials, AM/FM/CD, cruise control, keyless remote, power door locks, power mirrors, power moonroof, power windows, tachometer, tilt steering column, and 60/40 split folding rear seatbacks.

With the ‘G’ option package, which includes air conditioning and ABS, the price comes to $21,300. Add $260 freight and $100 air conditioning excise tax and the total comes to $21,660. With automatic transmission, fully-equipped Coupe Si models go for $22,300.

Technical Data:

2001 Honda Civic Coupe Si
Base price $19,800
Price as tested $21,300
Freight $260
Type 2-door, 5-passenger, compact coupe
Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
Engine 1.7 litre SOHC 16 valve VTEC 4 cylinder
Horsepower 127 @ 6300 rpm
Torque 116 @ 4800 rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual (4-speed automatic)
Tires 185/65R-15
Curb weight 1162 kg (2562 lb.)
Wheelbase 2620 mm (103.1 in.)
Length 4438 mm (174.7 in.)
Width 1695 mm (66.7 in.)
Height 1399 mm (55.1 in.)
Cargo capacity 365 litres (12.9 cu. ft.)
Fuel consumption City: 7.7 l/100 km (37 mpg)
  Hwy: 6.2 l/100 km (46 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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