1997 - 2000 Acura 1.6 EL - A Premium Brand for a Paupers Sum
What would you get if you found a 1997 to 2000 model year Honda Civic 4-door sedan with leather seats and trim (optional), a wood grain dash and luxury features? You'd get a slightly used Acura 1.6 EL, in Canada at least. It's not too often that a major automotive manufacturer builds an exclusive Canadian model but this was and still is the case with Acura's lowest priced model. The Japanese premium company didn't go overboard trying to disguise its entry-level car's compact roots either, despite the brands luxury image. The addition of restyled headlamps, an Acura grille and reshaped taillights 'transformed' the look. On the positive side the fact that the price didn't increase substantially from a fully-loaded version of the lesser Honda model made getting into a premium brand easier for those less heeled.
Just because you don't have loads of money doesn't mean you can't have a little fun. The EL's 1.6-L 4-cylinder engine was left unchanged from the Civic sedan but didn't disappoint. It incorporated variable valve timing and electronic lift control (VTEC) giving it excellent response lower down in the rev range and real zip the closer you got to its 6,900 rpm redline. If driven more moderately it would produce excellent fuel economy results at 8.1 / 6.3 L/100 km city/highway, based on a 5-speed manual equipped car. A 4-speed automatic was optional.
The 1.6 EL was available in base, Sport and Premium trim levels. The base model was slightly upgraded from its Civic donor car while the Sport included air-conditioning and 3-channel ABS brakes. The Premium package added leather upholstery and a power glass sunroof for an upscale appearance.