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Mazda Protege5 vs. Honda Civic

revkarevka Posts: 1,750
edited March 23 in Honda
to discuss the Mazda Protege5 vs. the Honda Civic! Since this subject has come up a few times in other discussions here, I thought it would be a good topic for a new discussion.

If you're in the market for a Protege5 or Civic, please post your questions here. If you own either one of these vehicles, we'd appreciate your feedback on this subject.

Also, a couple notes about comparing vehicles in cyberspace: Civility and respect underlie the success of an on-line community such as Town Hall. Please respect and interact with fellow members as you would in any public arena. Thanks for your participation. ;-)

Revka
Host
Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
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Comments

  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Be sure to check out direct access to other related discussions, articles, and features on the left side of the page. Happy motoring!

    Revka
    Host
    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • smashersmasher Posts: 31
    I was looking to replace an '87 Integra (4-door RS). I test drove both (along with the Impreza wagon, Golf 4-door, and Mini Cooper), and seriously considered the Si, mainly because my primary need was for a hatch/wagon, and the Si is the only hatchback Honda sells in the US market. (If they offered a less sporting hatch, say in LX or EX trim, I would've seriously considered it.)

    Its good points:
     - Great engine/drivetrain
     - Pretty good handling
     - Civic's reputation
     - Good ergonomics (shifter placement was great, and shift action was as good as any Honda/Acura--in other words, among the best)

    What turned me off:
     - Styling (it looked too much like a boy-racer to me, yet from some angles reminded me of the Ford Festiva)
     - Interior didn't feel up to Honda's quality
     - No ABS
     - Handling didn't wow me
     - Interior space/utility wasn't as good as a 4-door
     - Concerns about its theft rate, or potential theft rate

    That Si engine is a really sweet mill: iVTEC, cam chain, hydraulic valve lifters. (Supposedly the first scheduled tune-up is at 110,000 miles!) It'll run and run and run. It's a little funny in this car, though. I think the Si is a bit over-engined for its handling, at least in its stock form.

    The Si's interior kind of suprised me. There were some thoughtful details (like convertable cupholders/bins), but overall I wasn't impressed with the quality or finish of the materials, and there were a couple of ergonomic quirks (HVAC controls too close to the gauge cluster, but not quite in easy reach). It seemed a little rough around the edges--something I thought I'd NEVER say about a Honda.

    The P5's good points:
     - Styling (interior and exterior)
     - Handling (the P5's chassis is beautifully tuned right out of the box)
     - Ergonomics
     - Utility (5 doors, and more interior space than you'd think)

    Potential concerns:
     - Engine not as powerful as the Honda's, and uses a timing belt instead of a chain
     - Shifter action not as good as Honda's (Honda really is the benchmark here)
     - Mazda kind of an unknown to me

    Styling and design are totally subjective qualities, but I liked the looks of the P5 much better, and I preferred its interior layout and utility. It's a unique car. (It has its own quirks, though, like the dumb location of the lighter socket--if you're charging your phone, you can't use one of the cupholders--and foglight/cluster dimmer switches way out in the middle of nowhere.)

    The Protege5 felt most like my Integra: the right combination of utility and sportiness. The Protege's reputation for reliability is as good as the Civic's, too.

    Needless to say, I ended up with the P5, and the more I drive it, the more I love it. And configuration of the cargo compartment is great: it's like a big box, with a low liftover and a tall, wide opening in back. The Si seemed a little more cramped back there.

    There have been a number of comments made about the Protege's engine, that it doesn't have enough oomph. This isn't a drag-racing car. But the engine has a great, usable powerband nonetheless, with gear ratios well chosen for real-world driving.

    The P5 is really fun on back roads: just keep it in third gear and scoot from apex to apex, and listen to its nice, nasally, burbling snarl. Handling and steering are PERFECT: totally composed and unruffled, just eager and fun. It really grows on you.

    This may be off-topic a bit, but I don't get why Honda doesn't have more hatches on the market. They built their reputation on small hatches, and yet hatchbacks are virtually absent from their US lineup; the Civic Si is the only one. I would LOVE to see them bring in their 5-door hatch, and in more trim levels. (The 5-door is available in the UK; I think it's built there, too). It's much prettier than the 3-door, and looks much more useful.

    And why is "hatchback" such an ugly word? What's wrong with it? Hatchback! Hatchback! Hatchback!
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    ABS is standard on the Si.
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    Like stated above, ABS are standard and the Electronic Brake Force Distribution is standard as well. I don't think any other car in the segment offers EBD.

    Since you wanted a 5 door hatch, check out Matrix/Vibe. It was the first one on my list, but the Si pricing woed me in.
  • dinu01dinu01 Posts: 2,586
    On all Protege ES and P5 trims. Standard. Also standard, 16" alloys w/low profile tires, good loooks and great handling.

    Dinu
    PS: This could very well turn into an Accord-vs-M6 or TSX-vs-M6 forum :)
  • smashersmasher Posts: 31
    Huh. I stand corrected. According to a number of sources (including Honda's own spec sheet) the Si does have ABS.

    The P5 has ABS available only as an option, but their ABS has EBD, too.

    But anyway I'd be interested to read what others had to say about these two cars--driving impressions, look and feel, etc. Anybody else out there drive both?
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    ...before I purchased the Protege5, but I drove the EX, not the Si. I found that the Civic had indeed fallen behind in build quality. The body panels did not match paint grain, and the interior was full of cheap plastic like you would expect to find in a Neon or Cavalier. This is not what I was expecting to find in the latest Civic. Handling also suffered in comparison to the Protege5. I found the Civic to have a smoother highway ride, but I considered that a negative as I like to feel what is happening to the car. The stereo was marginally better in the Honda. All in all, the reasons I can think to recommend the Civic over the Protege5 are fuel economy and resale value. Neither of those ranks in my top 5 priorities, so I went with the Protege5.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    I haven't driven the Pro5; not enough bang for the buck on paper when I was buying.

    Edmunds says it costs more to own the Pro5, by $450 a year. Given the discounts and slow sales on the Si, I think a good shopper would come out even better.
  • baggs32baggs32 Posts: 3,209
    boggse,
    It's refreshing to hear from someone else who doesn't put resale value and fuel mileage at the top of their list. Neither of those two top my list, nor does reliability to an extent. I just want to love the vehicle and that's it. To each his own I guess.

    Back on topic...
    I have stated in other threads how much I loathe our 96 Civic. It's true, I can't wait to get rid of it. But I can't argue with the reliability of it's engine. I have done nothing but replace the air filter and change the oil every 3000 miles since we bought it. I think I need to get a new battery very soon, but it has been a pillar of reliability to this point. However, it only has about 54,000 miles on it as of today.

    As for the rest of the car, it's falling apart around the engine. Of course all of this is happening after the warranty which really bites given the high cost of fixing a Honda.

    I just don't see the benefit of paying a little extra for that big "H" on the hood. But I'm guess I'm just not like everyone else. ;)

    Anyway, the wife and I were ready to replace the aging Civic with a P5 or Mazda 6i when I started seeing pictures of the 3 and heard that Ford is going to use the 2.3L I4 in the Focus for MY2004. Now we're waiting until next year. Unless we can get a screaming deal on a Focus SVT at the end of this year, that is. :)

    The sad part is the P5 will probably not be on our shopping list any more. I drove one and absolutely loved it! In fact I loved everything about it. Then I drove the 6 and the P5 took a back seat. Add that to the fact that my wife thinks the P5 looks like a "frog", and, well you know the rest. :(

    Yet there is still hope! She does like the 3. At least in the pictures I've shown her.

    Can't wait to start shopping again!
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    Unfortunately, TCO doesn't do a very good job of estimating the financing deals available on the Protege5. When I consider 0% for 5 years, I save an average of $529.80 a year off of Edmund's TCO which means ~$80 less than the Civic assuming your $450 value is accurate. That is, unless you can find a 0% deal on the Civic which I have yet to see. This all assumes that a given individual can qualify for the 0%. If not, then the Civic TCO looks better, mainly due to depreciation.
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    "I just want to love the vehicle and that's it."

    I agree that is the key. Find a vehicle you love and drive it until it dies. That has been my goal all along. After the last 5 years and 7 cars (Taurus, Escort, Cherokee, Jetta, Protege, Protege5, and Miata), hopefully we are at that place. We both love our current cars (Protege5 & Miata), and I don't see that changing. Good luck with the 3 vs. 6 dilemma!
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    Check the TCO numbers for yourself.

    If the cost variable is important, you oughta compare the Pro5 with promo rate to the Si with promo rate (1.9%). The Si still comes out ahead by about $300/year.
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    I didn't see at promo rate on Honda's website, but I'll take your word for it. Still, it is interesting to note that the big difference in TCO is depreciation. Obviously, if you are only going to keep the car a few years, the Honda makes more financial sense. If you plan on keeping the car longer, then the numbers start to converge.
  • ashutoshsmashutoshsm Posts: 1,007
    ... are you factoring in mazda rebates - such as Loyalty cash, cashback and grad rebate? Also a rebate for using Mazda financing (not all these exist on all models, but a substantial subset exist across thee ntire model line) If you figure the cost of the Pro/P5 with these included, you'd arrive at even better numbers.

    Not to mention you're comparing small gala apples to large Fujis. The Si is a 3-door hatchback, with less space than the P5 (a 5-door hatch), and less comfort in the back seat as well. From my test-drives, I felt it (the Civic Si) was outclassed in the handling department by the Mazda as well - the only thing it has going for it is a wee bit more HP (noticeable ONLY when revved high) and a butter-smooth shifter (the Pro/P5 is excellent as well).

    So when you consider that a FAR better car (the P5) costs about as much as the Si to own, *I* call it a no-brainer :)
  • smashersmasher Posts: 31
    The Si looks like it belongs in a different market. It feels unfinished. It looks as if Honda wanted to capture what it saw in the aftermarket hot-rodding scene in its new Si. The result is a fairly stripped-down car (the interior feels very spare and unrefined to me somehow) with over-bolstered bucket seats and poor outward vision, but it still doesn't look right. It looks like it wants to be lowered. It looks like it needs bigger wheels/tires. It looks like it wants a big wing and neon lights around the rocker panels, and big decals on its flanks. And I'm not that kind of car owner. Most people aren't.

    The P5 feels much more complete to me, more grown-up. The interior makes sense (good ergonomics, nice materials, good fit and finish), the lower body add-ons are well integrated with the rest of the car. The car looks right, and it's livable. The engine isn't peaky, the gear ratios are well-spaced without any dead spots, the handling is great without being too harsh, the seats are comfortable and provide enough support without impairing rearward vision, ingress/egress are easy. Added bonus: it's got four doors.

    I think Honda really had something right with the Civic Si's and CRX's of the late '80s/early '90s. They were the right combination of sportiness and practicality and style, with great handling and fit/finish, nice appointments without too many luxury gizmos, nothing too off-the-wall or extreme. They had just enough power, just enough handling prowess, just enough bolstering in the seats. They were complete.

    I think they've lost that a bit in this new Si.
  • rivertownrivertown Posts: 928
    The cost numbers are objective, if you look at 'em honestly. The bottom line is that under most circumstances, the Si is less costly.

    Beyond that, I figure it's a matter of individual taste and priority. I like the Pro5. On paper, it would have been my 2nd choice on a short list. For my tastes and priorities, however, the Si came out 1st; and I'd have paid more to own the Si than the Pro5. As it turns out, I can own the Si AND put $1 1/2-$2K of mods in it AND come out even or ahead costwise.
  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    "The result is a fairly stripped-down car (the interior feels very spare and unrefined to me somehow)" == in other words it is not cramped which can be attributed to roominess

    "with over-bolstered bucket seats" == since when Recarros are overbolstered, the best seats I have ever had in a car. May not fit wide people though

    "and poor outward vision" == Agree the A-pillars are thicker than normal, but that is attributed to built-in tubular roll cage - added safety in case Si crosses roads with an SUV or Semi.

    "It looks like it wants to be lowered" == Agree, it needs to be lower, but at stock height it is perfectly stable at high speed.

    "It looks like it needs bigger wheels/tires" == 15 inch wheels may not be the largest in the market, but they do not rob you of HP and Torque. Hey F1 cars are running on 13 inchers, and I don't think they are slow.

    "It looks like it wants a big wing and neon lights around the rocker panels, and big decals on its flanks." == mine does not have any but is still sharp. And I would never molest its natural lines (looks like a water droplet = aerodynamics) But whatever rocks you boat.
  • smashersmasher Posts: 31
    > ...fairly stripped-down car (the interior feels very spare and unrefined to me somehow)" == in other words it is not cramped which can be attributed to roominess

    Er, no. I'd describe a panel van as spare and unrefined, too--yet still roomy. They're two different things. No, I don't think the Si is as unrefined as a panel van, but the materials and fit/finish aren't as good as other cars in its price range. I thought the dashboard materials and trim in particular weren't up to what I'd expect in a Honda, in any price range. The border between the silver of the instrument cluster and the grey/black of the rest of the dash looked downright cheap.

    > "with over-bolstered bucket seats" == since when Recarros are overbolstered, the best seats I have ever had in a car. May not fit wide people though

    They're probably OK for racing seats. I don't think they make much sense in a car like this (a practical/sporty car), and they make ingress/egress more difficult.

    Again, I think these may be two different markets: the Si may be closer to a Mazdaspeed Protege, or a
    Dodge Neon SRT-4. But to play in that pack, the Si needs better handling and roadholding. I personally want something a little less aggressive than that, a little more refined, a little more practical.

    > "and poor outward vision" == Agree the A-pillars are thicker than normal, but that is attributed to built-in tubular roll cage - added safety in case Si crosses roads with an SUV or Semi.

    A-pillars in this car are just as thick as those in the base hatch (sold in other markets); I doubt there's any additional stiffening to the bodycage than what's already designed in for all models. (I'd be happy to see/read otherwise.) I thought the C-pillars were too thick, and the beltline too high for decent outward vision. You can't see the hood of the car from the driver's seat, either. Wide bolstering of the seats--especially around the head--contribute to the claustrophobic feel; they block over-the-shoulder sightlines. I personally didn't like it.

    > "It looks like it wants to be lowered" == Agree, it needs to be lower, but at stock height it is perfectly stable at high speed.

    Sure. That's not what I was saying, though. It seemed like a car that begged to be modded. Some people like doing that, I don't. I guess it's a personal thing.

    > "It looks like it needs bigger wheels/tires" == 15 inch wheels may not be the largest in the market, but they do not rob you of HP and Torque. Hey F1 cars are running on 13 inchers, and I don't think they are slow.

    At what aspect ratio? Anyway, this is a frequent criticism of the car: wheels/tires are the weak link in an otherwise good chassis. This is where Honda cut corners, and as a result it'll probably be the most popular aftermarket mod.

    > "It looks like it wants a big wing and neon lights around the rocker panels, and big decals on its flanks." == mine does not have any but is still sharp. And I would never molest its natural lines (looks like a water droplet = aerodynamics) But whatever rocks you boat.

    Agreed. The looks are subjective. I didn't really like the Si's looks. Likewise, I might think the P5 looks good, but some people might think it looks like a frog. Like you said: whatever rocks your boat.
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    I acutally prefer the Si's appearance to the horribly bland Civic Sedan. I like the hunchback look. The only thing wrong with it IMO is the small rims and all-season tires.
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