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Here's how important the Honda Civic EK is - without it, there'd be no Civic Type R

Sanjay · Aug 8, 2020 11:00 AM

Here's how important the Honda Civic EK is  - without it, there'd be no Civic Type R 01

Ahh, the Honda Civic. Like it or not, everyone’s heard of them and chances you may have even considered one - brand new or otherwise.

Honda Civic Badge

The coveted badge - a symbol of pride and envy?

Sure, they’ve got their fair share of stereotypes (ahem, budak lambang H) but you can’t deny they’re damn good at what they do.

1978 Honda Civic

This 'all-original' 1978 Civic is for sale at the time of writing

Runs practically forever, parts are cheap enough to source and most generations still look the part. 

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2008 Honda Civic FD

The FD still looks fresh 15 years since its launch.

Jason thinks that the FD is the greatest Civic ever. Agreeable? Maybe. But you can't deny how instrumental the sixth-generation was to the Civic nameplate.

The most innovative Civic ever?

Honda Civic EG and EK differences

Top to bottom: Fifth-gen and sixth-gen Civic Ferio.

Introduced on September 4, 1995, the EK Civics were a completely different animal than the preceding EG. Look at it - I’m sure the redesign drew a mixed bag of comments.

Honda EK bodystyles

Top to bottom: Hatchback, sedan and coupe body styles.

The Civic was offered in hatchback, sedan and coupe guises and I daresay it’s one of the few timeless designs that still look good today! 

Honda Civic EK double wishbone suspension

Honda's secret to the EK Civic's good handling.

Sticking close to the daily-driver recipe, Honda increased focus on fuel efficiency, comfort and safety for the EK.

The new model used lightweight materials for the bodywork, and double-wishbone suspension were fitted to all variants to complement its reinforced chassis.

Honda Civic Riced

Riders on the Storm intensifies

Its handling attracted rave reviews and their relative affordability combined with good power made them a hit among boy racers. 

But this is the main bit about the about the EK - it was a total game-changer, and Civics would never be the same from this point on.

Honda Civic interior

See that highlighted bit? That's the magic of the EK...

For one, its development pioneered the three-stage VTEC engine, and it was the first Civic to be equipped with a CVT (marketed more glamorously as Multimatic) which was offered alongside a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic.

Wait, what's three-stage VTEC?

Honda Civic speedometer

No, three-stage VTEC doesn’t give you three times more power. It’s a nifty bit of kit that uses three different cam profiles that operate in, you guessed it, three stages.

Honda Civic Multimatic

Each one controls a different valve timing and lift pattern and long story short, allows the engine to run in either economy, standard or high power modes. 

And the results are VERY impressive even by today’s standards.

Honda Civic three-stage vtec

What goes on at each stage. Image credit:

Fitted to the range topper at launch (VTi), it made 130 PS at 7,000 rpm and 140 Nm at 5,300 rpm and was electronically limited to 180 km/h.

The best part? When mated to the Multimatic CVT, it could return fuel consumption figures of around 3-litres/100 km. 

Honda Civic i-vtec

The technology was further refined and evolved into i-VTEC. Speaking of which,'s resident engineer, Arif wrote about the VTEC as a whole recently - read it here!

Honda Civic Hatchback

The special 'Japan Car of the Year' edition Civic Ri, built to commemorate the awards.

In short, Honda threw their backs into the EK and it paid off, winning the coveted Japan Car of the Year award in 1995 and 1996. 

Honda Civic ES

Significant lack of drama compared to the EK

Along its five-year model lifespan, the EK underwent facelifts in 1996, 1997 and 1998. All brought upon refinements to the overall car before the model made way for the ES in 2000. 

However, the real magic happened in 1997...

The original Civic Type-R (EK9)

Honda Civic Type R EK9

Bringing up the Civic and not mentioning the Type R is just like having sushi without wasabi - there’s just no kick bro. 

But trust Honda with the ingredients needed to make a darn spicy Civic, and they’ll make one.

Honda Civic Type R EK9 back

Very angry and very fast

At its introduction in 1997, it was only the third Honda to get the coveted red ‘R’ badge - its only predecessors being the NSX Type R and the Integra Type R. Hallowed company, eh?

Honda Civic Type R EK9 fronts

The Type R is based on the SiR hatch. Spot the differences!

Type R models are essentially race cars for the road, with an emphasis on minimising weight and maximising performance. Spawning a cult following in years to come is just a side effect. 

Honda Civic Type R EK9 engine

Based on the hatchback SiR Civic, Honda went all the way with the EK9. The hand-ported 1.6-litre B16B Spec R mill was tuned to produce 185 PS at 8,200 rpm and 160 Nm of torque at 7,500 rpm.

Plenty to fly with - considering it only weighed 1,040 kg.

In its time, it boasted one of the highest power output per litre of all time for a naturally aspirated engine (113 bhp/litre). Just watch it go!

Honda Civic Type R EK9 interior

Along with the crazy engine, Honda paired a front helical limited-slip differential with a close-ratio 5-speed manual transmission. It could fly to 100 km/h from a standstill in just 6.7 seconds before topping out at 225 km/h.

Honda Civic Type R EK9 wheels

The all-aluminum 7-spoke wheels achieves high rigidity is achieved while staying light.

To make sure it handles as well as it rockets in a straight line, Honda had its monocoque chassis seam-welded, gave it bigger brakes, upgraded the suspension and - get this - put Type R-exclusive Bridgestone Potenza RE010 tyres on it.

Honda Civic Type R EK9 interior

Because red means fast.

Going inside, the EK9 Type R got its interior splashed with red door cards, floor mats and Recaro bucket seats. Being a driver’s car through and through, it got a titanium shift knob and Momo leather-wrapped steering wheel to go.

Honda Civic Type R EK9 pedals

Honda's engineers also redesigned the pedal layout to allow for easier heel-and-toe action - now that's detail!

Honda Civic Type R EK9 black

Does it look cooler in black?

Exclusively sold in Japan, buyers had to cough up JPY 2 million (~RM 79,605). These days, a pristine example can reach prices of up to JPY 7.5 million (RM 300,000). Talk about compounding interest.

A generation that influenced the rest

2020 Honda Civic EK

Honda Access Japan's reinterpretation of the Civic EK for 2020. Photo credit: HondaPro Jason

2020 marks the Civic EK's 25th anniversary, and it remains one of the most celebrated generations to grace the Civic nameplate.

2020 Honda Civic EK

What do you think, better than the new Civic? Photo credit: HondaPro Jason

With its innovative powertrain technology and introduction of the Type R cult - it's simply undeniable how significant the EK is in Honda's history.


Senior Writer

With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.

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