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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Automotive Essay: The Promised Land Part I

In yet another reason to visit the Chicago Auto Show Honda dropped a big bomb Thursday. The newest 500lb bomb was the Civic SI SEDAN concept! (WARNING: Numberous Photos. Not safe for dial-up.) Honda's popular SI has never been offered as a sedan before. The 197 horsepower 1.8 liter four cylinder, Brembo brakes, 6 speed manual transmission, and limited slip differential all appear straight from the Civic SI coupe.

Aside from the oversized wing and the carbon fiber hood I hope it makes production as is. Or at least offers a wing-delete and regular hood option. Between the recent V6/manual Accord sedan and now this SI beast it looks like Honda realizes that 4-door people might like fun toys too.

I'm not certain how closely the prices of the Civic coupes and sedans match each other, but the SI coupe starts in the mid 19's. A $20,00 near midsized sedan with nearly 200 hp, a 6 speed stick, with good handling and Honda reliability. Tasty baby!

Due to screwy happenings in Chicago and here it looks like next weekend will be any road trip I want to do. So much for seeing both the motorcylce and auto show, but we'll have a motorcycle show in town by the end of the month.

Besides I need to see the newly debuted Dodge Caliber SRT4. (WARNING: Numberous photos. Not safe for dial-up.) A hot hatch with 300 horsepower driving the front wheels only! Is Dodge nuts? Sure FWD is less expensive and lighter than all wheel drive, but 300 friggin' horsepower through the front wheels only!

Dodge better offer the regular Caliber with the large 2.4 liter with the manual or I'll be mad. I can live with only 170 horsepower, but I want the option of shifting the gears myself. So far Dodge's website shows CVT only for any engine not the new 1.8 liter four. Oh come on Dodge! I can't figure out why most companies that offer a stick simply put it on the stripped down base models only. They assume if you want a stick shift you're concerned purely with price. Cheaper base models don't need the expensive automatic, and if you're buying a more uplevel version then you'll gladly pay for the automatic. Dodge, you are the performance division of DiamlerChrysler. Make the stick available everywhere please. Show love to enthusiasts like me. I'm begging you. My ride should be fly.

Chicago is the promised land this week and next!

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