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Revving our engines, we waited patiently for the stoplight to show green. Beside me, the owner of a BMW 325is, anticipating an easy defeat over me, the driver of a simple Honda Civic Coupe. Little does he know that this is not just any old Honda. Stirring under the unassuming hood lays an ultra-high revving 1.6-liter, four-cylinder powerhouse, pushing out 160hp via Honda's legendary VTEC valve technology. This is no less than the Civic Si-R!
The light turns green and we're off. The BMW surges ahead, while the Honda spins its tires in typical front-wheel drive fashion. While the BMW driver is busily shifting at 6,500 rpm, the Honda makes up valuable time spinning to a lofty 8,000 rpm before I need to shift into second gear.
A shocked 'Bimmeister' frantically searches for 2nd as he sees this 'lesser' contender sidling up beside him. Finding 2nd, the BMW moves ahead once again. The Honda chirps as it engages 2nd gear and the pattern continues.
Valves whir, pistons churn, gears whine - the result from this mechanical reaction is an aural delight. My pulse quickened - absolute concentration from my head to my toe, as I reach for the shifter and to find 3rd, glancing out the passenger window to see the disheveled BMW driver trying desperately not to lose face.
Truth be told, he did win by a nose, yet not enough to have him bragging to his friends and family. Another truth... it was a late 80's 325is, with what was probably a tired 165hp six under its hood. In straight line performance it seems the BMW's torque beats the Si-R's fresh new high-tech engine advantage.
That said, the Honda put up quite a fight against an admirable foe, despite its 900cc, 2-cylinder disadvantage. We both met at the next stoplight grinning at each other - between road warriors there are no losers, as I enjoyed myself too much to be lamenting my narrow loss. Soon after we parted company, and with adrenaline still pumping I studied the surrounding motorists, looking for a similar candidate to repeat the process with. Such is the life in a car that was designed for teenagers - or at least the teenager in all of us.
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