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Ford Focus ZX3 / SVT vs. Honda Civic Si / RSX



  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    I second that. At the time I was looking at cars, end of 2002 - early 2003 the SVT had no rebate nor discounts. The WRX could be had for $20,000 for a left over 2002, Matrix/Vibe were both in high $19,000 for XRS/GT, Mini was still at $25K for Cooper S with options to make it comparable to Si. And Si was advertized in local papers for $15,000 for a 2002 left over. I scored one for $14,500 with 1.9% financing.

    1. Heated seats - would have been nice in winter, but suede does not get as cold as leather.
    2. 6 speed - i would really like one, but if it geared taller than Si's 5th. The RSX-s 6th gear is same ratio as Si's 5th. Not sure what the gear ratios and final drive is in the SVT. But if I could make my car run at 2500 rpm at 80 mph, it would be nice.
    3. I replaced mine with MP3 headunit anyway
    4. 17 inch wheels are useless, only more rotational inertia than 15 inchers.
  • dmoulddmould Posts: 76
    You did very well picking up your Si for that price. At the time I bought my SVTF, the Civic Si was selling for about $2000 CDN less.
    FYI - most Focus SVTs seats are leather on the outside edge, with a cloth insert to breath and hold you during aggressive driving. The seat heaters provide heat well before the heater on cold mornings! The SVTF 6th gear is definitely taller than the Si 5th, although it still turns close to 3500rpm at 80mph. The Focus audiophile system sounds very good, much better than the Infinity system in my Dakota.
    How do you figure 17" wheels are useless? In addition to the good looks and aggressive stance, they offer a ton of grip with the factory summer performance Continental tires. Superior handling and braking. I hardly call that useless. Why do you think Honda went to 16" wheels on the '04 Civic Si?
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    Tires have much more impact on braking and handling than wheels. Factory wheels tend to be heavy. I bet you could save 10 pounds a corner going to lightweight 15" wheels, with no handling compromise. I think the dynamic improvements provided by the lighter wheels outweighs any visual benefit.
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    How do you figure 17" wheels are useless? In addition to the good looks and aggressive stance, they offer a ton of grip with the factory summer performance Continental tires. Superior handling and braking.

    The wheel diameter has nothing to do with amount of grip tire can privide. It is the cross sectional area of the "contact patch" that privides the grip and traction. A 15 inch wheel with a wider tire will provide the same amount of grip as a 17 inch tire with the same width. But the 17 inch wheel will have about 4 times the rotational inertia of 15 inch wheel. Inertia is described as I=mr^2, where m= mass at the radi, and most of the weight in a wheel is concetrated at the rim/tire rather than hub, and r=radius. Increasing radius, increases rotational inertia (I) exponentially.

    Increased inertia puts additional stress on your hubs and bearings, as well as reduces your et times.

    Large wheels are all about show, they do look nice. This is why Honda offered 16 inchers on the 2004 Si, because most kids have no clue what larger wheel does to car's handling characteristics, but it looks nice.

    Formula 1 cars still use very small wheels, ever wonder why?
  • dmoulddmould Posts: 76
    The factory 17" SVT Focus wheels weigh about 21 pounds, about 5 pounds more than your typical 15" alloy wheel. A switch to 15" tires of the same width would require a higher profile tire, which would weigh a little more than the low profile 17" tire. Overall though, yes a lighter wheel/tire combo is beneficial, especially in acceleration and braking, less so in cornering.
    "A 15 inch wheel with a wider tire will provide the same amount of grip as a 17 inch tire with the same width." This statement is only true if the 15" tire is the same diameter as the 17" tire, as the diameter also affects the contact patch. A 15" tire of the same diameter will have a taller sidewall, resulting in a loss of responsiveness (and possibly grip) with the added flex in the tire. There is something to gain with a larger rim/low profile tire combination. The added weight and inertia is overcome with more horsepower and better brakes on modern cars.
    Perhaps the 13" tire technology from Formula 1 will make its way to the streets, reversing the trend to larger wheels?
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    A 15" tire of the same diameter will have a taller sidewall, resulting in a loss of responsiveness (and possibly grip) with the added flex in the tire.

    Having a 15 inch wheel with a 2 inch side wall would definately defeat the purpose of having a 15 inch wheel in the first place. I was merely comparing the 15 inch stock wheel/tire combo on Si to the stock 17 inch wheel/tire combo on SVT.
    If my stock tire is 195/60-15 and I were to upgrade to 215/55-15, I will increase the contact patch while only gaining 0.1 inches in radius. For the 17 inch wheel you would have to have 205/45-17 tire to have roughly the same circumference, radius and diameter. Problem is that the mass will be removed father from the axis of rotation, resulting in higher rotational inertia.
    You can't beat physics.

    I wonder how often drivers out there take their cars to the limit of adhesion in every day driving. I do, (I admit, I am an aggressive driver, let the flaming begin) on my daily commute, but I see more expensive and more capable BMW's and Porsches just hogging the left lane.
  • spy_hunterspy_hunter Posts: 5
    Hi all, I'm soliciting opinions about my impending car purchase:

    I'm moving to CA, and need to unload my beloved '91 Integra RS (best car I've ever owned, btw). I can afford a new Focus ZX5, and I like the idea of having rear doors and the PZEV engine, which I hear is quite spunky. (I test drove an SVT at my local dealer, but they didn't have the 2.3 on the lot).

    I hear that the Focus' reliability has improved, but I'm concerned about the long-term outlook and resale value.

    On the other hand, my Integra has treated me sooooo well, that I'm considering getting a 2002 RSX-S or even a 2001 Integra GS-R. Unfortunately, the new ones don't fit in the budget.

    Finally, my girlfriend just bought a new Civic Si, which drives beautifully (and I have no trouble switching back and forth from her shifter to mine). I just don't like the profile--I think the Edmunds reviewer called it "a door wedge with wheels."

    Any thoughts?
  • vibsrvibsr Posts: 47

    I'm a bit biased in that I own a 2004 RSX (160 hp/5-spd man). For the sheer fun factor alone, given your choices...I would go with the '02 RSX-S.

    HOWEVER, the RSX-S (200hp/6-speed) requires PREMIUM go-juice! California has the highest gasoline prices in the USA. Those facts alone would weigh heavily on my decision process. *** I just checked the EPA! A 6-speed Focus requires premium, too!***

    A 2001 Integra GS-R? Hmmm....See if you can find an article on a 2002 RSX-S. Drive them both if you can. If you lean toward a 2001 GS-R, I think you should look for one that hasn't gone through any serious aftermarket mods.
    Long-term resale value is typically lower on a Ford than on a car of the same size/class/age from Honda.

    Reliability concerns...
    Anybody can build a lemon! I once owned a car that some folks said would require major engine-work by 60K. It was a 1986 Escort with a 5-speed. It went nearly 70K on the original brakes, over 100K before it needed a new muffler, and only twice in over 100K miles did it fail to start. Once because of a dead battery, and again because of a bad ingiter. Since then, I've owned a Mazda MX6 that needed a new engine at 194K (got wrecked after the fix %^#&), a Toyota Camry (too polite), and now I have this RSX with about 3K miles on the clock. I've had more repairs on the MX6 than I EVER had with the Escort (but that MX6 was sweet!). Ford has had some wierd problems with the Focus, but by now I would be reasonably certain that most of those bugs were effectively dealt with.

    Practicality concerns....
    If kids are in your not-too-distant future, a ZX5 might be a bit handier for positioning the tax deduction in the car seat.

    Either way, you're in for a fun ride. Hope I didn't bore y'all!!
  • spy_hunterspy_hunter Posts: 5
    Thanks for the valuable comments, vibsr!

    The premium gas issue is a great point. From an environmental perspective, I think the 2.3 l Focus is the better car. Not only does it get a little better mileage, but the PZEV engine won't contribute so much to my girlfriend's asthma.

    The Acuras are faster, but if the newer ones are anything like mine, low end torque is a little weak. I suspect the 2.3 l Focus probably steps off the line a little better. Driving around San Diego, this is probably more important than flat out speed.

    All that being said, I still can't discount the fact that my 13+ year old Integra runs just beautifully. I just arrived at my parents' house, 375 miles from where I live. She's purring so fine right now, I'm getting really depressed that I've got to sell her.

    Plus, I did learn an interesting thing or two from Consumer Reports. I don't rely on them too much for driving impressions, but they do a good job of looking into the small things that may be important. For instance, the ZX5, unlike the SVT, has no rear head restraints! Pretty strange for a more family-centered car. Also, no exterior latch for the hatch. I like throwing my briefcase back there before getting in the car, but no can do in the ZX5.

    Oh, well, I guess I'll just have to go and drive them some more . . .
  • sparky56sparky56 Posts: 8
    The lacking rear hatch latch seems to be a new trend with some carmakers. They do give you a button on the fob though.

    2.3s can be scarce, at least outside of carb states. The new duratec 2.0s seem to be better than the old zetecs. Good luck.
  • joe249joe249 Posts: 95
    I have one and I paid 25 k as I put a clear mask ,spoiler,fog lights and what ever. This is my 4th accura. They are bullet proof.
    To get heated seats,you have to buy it in Canada.
    ;Also, premium gas is expensive . I run (91 to 93 octane.)
    I love the looks of the Focus and tried one but, the thrill isn't there. I'm scared of VW's but, like Subaru they got heated seats. I sacrificed heated seats for quality.
    I tried the Mazda 3S Hatch and the sales person said to step on it and the engine made alot of noise but,no Zoom Zoom to me.BMW has heated seats as my wife drives a 5 series but that's her baby.
         My Type s has them all beat,although the low end torque leaves alot to be desired on the highway it's a rocket and a fun ride.I'm 65 and it rides stiff and you feel every bump,but it's a great machine that just wants to go .
        Lastly the tires are same performance tires on Maza3 Michelin's 17 vr.
       I want heated seats,but can't find a reliable car as mine that has them.
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    Spy, if cost is an issue and you like the way your girlfriend's Si drives, get base RSX. RSX is exactly the same car as the Si, except for a few minor details. And they sell for much less than RSX-S.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    The few minor details that separate the Si from the RSX are the best reasons to buy one.

    A) Fantastic Seats
    B) GREAT shifter position
    C) More cargo space, better access to it
    D) Better aftermarket support
    E) Cheaper $$$
    F) Relatively rare
    G) Seats 5 (RSX seats 4)

    The advantages of the base RSX are:
    A) Slightly more torque
    B) leather available (but worse seats)
    C) 12 months more warranty

    As far as power goes, both the Si and RSX make similar power to the RSX-S until 6000rpms.

    You'll notice that joe249 paid ~25,000 for his RSX-S - and it is certainly a great car. That said, the Si is still definitely available for mid 17s (maybe 17 even), and the RSX for mid 18s. $6000-8000 difference is nothing to sneeze at in this price range.

    My pick is the Si.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,930
    got a focus 'zts' with 2.3 pzev and a 5 speed about 3 weeks ago. got it as a car to keep the miles off our suv's. am very impressed with the 2.3 engine. it's very smooth and has plenty of torque. the four bangers i have driven in the past didn't react well to additional weight or running the air. i haven't been able to tell the difference in normal driving, even with 4 people on board, one time. hills don't bother it either.
    mine has anti lock brakes, power moonroof, windows, door locks and side mirrors, heated seats/mirrors, tilting/telescoping steering wheel, cd/mp3 stereo, alloy wheels, remote keyless entry.
    the doors are kind of tinny sounding, but other than that it's a nice package. got it for a franklin over 13k, plus tax and reg.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,930
    meant for a ulysses over! spell checking that one was a chore!
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    Muffin, I agree that Si is a better package than RSX, but Spy-hunter specifically said that he did not like his girlfriend's Si because of the looks. Some people can look beyond the shell (like us, Si drivers) and some can't (can we put Shallow Hal spell on people who don't like Si's styling?) I was merely suggesting that if he liked the Si's dynamics, that RSX base would provide the same.
  • muffin_manmuffin_man Posts: 865
    Ah, I missed that.
  • spy_hunterspy_hunter Posts: 5
    Blueiedgod, I like your suggestion about the base RSX. I really don't need 200 hp, and the torque is about the same (and more accessible) in the base than the -s.

    And Muffin_man, I do appreciate your fondness for the Si. I really like driving my girlfriend's car. I don't HATE the styling, but I just like the Focus' shapely rounded figure better.

    I just did some checking on the NHTSA website:
    The RSX did somewhat better in frontal crash testing than the Focus, 5 stars compared to 4.

    Looking at the raw data, (bottom of screen) the head injury criterion (HIC) for the Focus driver is 403 and 274 for the RSX. The femoral load on the Focus driver is 900-1000 lbs., and only 110-130 on the RSX. This translates into slightly reduced risk of head injury and femoral fracture for the RSX driver, although looking at the injury curves (see this link:)
    The risk in either car is actually pretty small.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,930
    6. Can I compare vehicles from different classes?

    Depending on the weight of a vehicle, it can be compared to other vehicles in its class. Since a frontal crash test into a fixed barrier is similar to a crash between two vehicles of the same weight, ===>> the frontal crash test results can only be compared to other vehicles in the same weight class and those plus or minus 250 lbs. <<===

    Side crash test results can be compared across all classes because all vehicles are hit with the same barrier and at the same force.

    Rollover Resistance Ratings can also be compared across all classes.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • spy_hunterspy_hunter Posts: 5

    According to the NHTSA, the RSX, Focus and Si are all "compact passenger cars." Their respective weights are 2708, 2630, and 2502 lbs. Therefore, they satisfy both of the above criteria, and I'm unsure what your point was in posting them.

    I agree that the star rating doesn't give a complete picture--that's why I think it's important to look at the actual numbers, which show significant differences between these cars.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,930
    the stars only relate to vehicles in the same class. in other words a 5 star 'xyx', could get one star against a much larger 'abc', as opposed to another 'xyz'. if the difference between the vehicles is greater than 250 lbs, forget the stars.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • colorcolor Posts: 1
    The focus interior is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. Sorry, I had to get this out of my system. Even the new redesigned 2005 focus interior cant compete with the 2002 Si interior.

    Ford tries to create trends while Honda is consistent and presents timeless designs.

    Oh and who cares about 17" wheels when they are ugly as hell. Id prefer saving up a little buying a nice set lightweight ROTAs.
  • badodysseybadodyssey Posts: 4
    Honda dropped the ball a bit on the new Si, but I purchased one anyway because I've driven them and REALIZED what I was getting...a practical, fun to drive, RELIABLE car with great resale and a ton of potential.

    overall, you want a better performance car out of the box that looks a tad better (barely on both) you buy the long as you can wrench!

    You want great reliability, bulletproof long term enjoyment, and a car that will cost less to own and will be worth ALOT more in the long run...but a civic. oh, but you will need to change the oil from time to time :)

    oh, and as far as looks? I slapped a set of lightweight 17" speedy race modes on the car, dropped it about 1.5" and now have a GREAT looking and great running vehicle! I added a supercharger and now it's just fantastic...and will still be running 10 years from now.
  • john500john500 Posts: 409
    Same logic I used when I bought an 03 SI. I liked the 03 Ford Focus SVT and seriously considered getting one. However, at the same price, I went with the Honda for a better statistical chance of not having to replace parts every week in another year. I'd like to see a Honda engine on one of these (my next vehicle- if I can get some reasonably priced land)
  • nitromaxnitromax Posts: 641
    I added a supercharger and now it's just fantastic...and will still be running 10 years from now.

    You added a blower and expect it to last 10 years?


    Good luck with that
  • acer2acer2 Posts: 1
    Intresting forum, anyway im thinking about getting a used svt focus. Im really just looking for a cheap performance car that i can have a little fun in, as in from 0-60 and throwing it into tight corners. Can anybody give me some advise because if not i might just go with a use 2002 ford taurus, with the optional 24V V6 of course.

  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    The SVT Focus would be a heck of a lot sportier than the Taurus. The Taurus won't corner that well :( . Plus, you'll have more options available to you on performance and appearance mods on the SVT than on the Taurus.
  • Base Focus is sportier than a Taurus, unless you are talking about a first gen SHO.

    I gave serious consideration to the Civic Si, but could not justify the $22k+ the dealers were wanting(and not willing to deal), vs the $14k for a Focus ST.

    Heck, you could get a new ZX3 for $11k, easy.
  • Hi i got a 2002 svt ford focus and want to get a supercharger for it,, live in Michigan and need to know where to find and what it cost
  • hi crossrunner here got a 2002 svt ford focus and looking to put a supercharger on it and need to know where to go to get this done...please reply anyone
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