Those that don't know, drive a GTi... Those that do, drive an ESi.
Engine main bearing failed @ 89000 miles.
Exhaust midbox failed @ 75000 miles.
Exhaust backbox failed again @ 92000 miles.
Driver's seat slider mechanism failed @ 80000.
Suspension bushes exhausted @ 90000 miles.
Suspension shattered @ 85000 miles.
Tailgate rust excessive @ 85000 miles (8.5 years old).
Headlight connectors worn out @ 95000 miles.
This is another review to add to a previous one titled 'Entry level Honda that begs to be Revved!' as I have just sold it.
I'll start with the negative first. The worst thing about the car is the gearbox synchromeshes. They are absolutely useless and fail very quickly. Even though that is the case, the gears are good!
The main area for rust is on the rear tailgate, just below the number plate. Pay close attention to it!
The main bearing in the engine was unfortunate to fail. The car had a major oil consumption problem, and resulted in poor oil flow, and the bearing simply not getting enough of the stuff. It broke and I acquired a reconditioned unit. If your Honda drinks oil (>1 litre/400 miles driving), then get it checked! The engine I have in now has drank about 2.5 litres in 5000 miles!
The other failures listed can all be attributed to wear and age.
Now the positives.
There is no question that I was, for want of a better word, brutal on the car. This car was driven at over 125mph everyday and constantly revved over 7200, thrown into corners, and I had friends light cigarettes on the brake discs (set my wheel paint on fire too!) from extreme repetitive braking. No other car I have experienced could have taken 1/4 of the punishment and lasted 1/2 as long.
Get uprated suspension (G-Max springs and dampers - £250) and new bushes (£120 for front rear from Honda, £250 from Powerflex for poly items) and its handling is supreme. Understeer, oversteer, 4 wheel slide anything, just set it up on corner entry and it does whatever you want!
The brakes are fine, unless you need to use them over and over again. If you are the last of the late brakers (as in every stop is an emergency, max grip, bordering on lock-up braking) then you WILL need to fit Mintex 1155's as a minimum. For potential boy racers, standard pads are fine. As mentioned, I have set my wheels on fire and had friends light cigs off my discs!
The engine (D16Z6) is a remarkable unit. No other car engine has as many as 20 lobes on 1 cam for a start! It may not be as desirable as its DOHC brother, but it was better designed. The sound of the engine is again fantastic. Even after 3 years, it still doesn't fail to provoke a smile! Compared to rival engines from Citroen/Peugeot, Ford and Vauxhall, it is simply leagues beyond, especially in driveability. 17mph in 5th gear will drive with no complaints and I have had 133mph on the flat with a passenger. It will also cruise at 110mph forever and a day. If performance is a problem, you can turbo this car very easily (unlike the DOHC B16a) and extract over 200bhp safely, for little money. Check out www.homemadeturbo.com.
The main bonus is that it doesn't attract attention from the police, yet still looks cool, fresh and original.
Overall this car is brilliant. You can forget this until you drive another similar priced/spec'd car. Forget your VTS/GTi/GSi, if you're 19-24, get one of these and I promise you will not be disappointed!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 15th June, 2003