Honda Civic (fourth generation)
|Production||September 1987–August 1991
September 1987–February 1996 (Civic Shuttle)
Swindon, England (HUKM)
East Liberty, Ohio, United States (Marysville Auto Plant)
Alliston, Ontario, Canada (HCM)
East London, South Africa
Nelson, New Zealand (Honda New Zealand)
Johor Bahru, Malaysia (OASB) 
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback
3-door coupe (CRX)
5-door station wagon (Shuttle)
|Layout||Front engine, front-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive|
Rover 200 (R8)
Rover 400 (R8)
|Wheelbase||2,500 mm (98.4 in)|
|Length||156.1 in (3,965 mm) (hatchback)
166.5 in (4,229 mm) (sedan)
161.7 in (4,107 mm) (wagon)
|Width||65.6 in (1,666 mm) (hatchback)
65.9 in (1,674 mm) (sedan)
66.1 in (1,679 mm)
|Height||52.4 in (1,331 mm) (hatchback)
53.5 in (1,359 mm) (sedan)
56.1 in (1,425 mm) (FWD Wagon)
56.9 in (1,445 mm) (4WD Wagon)
|Predecessor||Honda Civic (third generation)|
|Successor||Honda Civic (fifth generation)|
In 1987, the Honda Civic was significantly redesigned for model year 1988. The suspension had a radical re-configuration with double-wishbone suspension in the front and an independent suspension in the rear, wheelbase was increased to 98.4 inches (250 cm), and the body was redesigned with a lower hood line and more glass, giving less drag. The front suspension incorporates an extended hub carrier, so the upper arm is relatively short. The rear suspension is a multi-link trailing arm suspension with upper and lower lateral control links (with the spring/damper strut carried on the lower link) near the axle line and a short lateral link for toe control ahead of the pivot of the main trailing arm.
The base model of the fourth generation Civic had a 1.2 L SOHC, this single carbureted engine was not available for the Japanese and American markets. In Japan the base version received a 1.3 L SOHC single carbureted engine with 82 PS (60 kW), thus equipped it was called either 23L or 23U. This engine, in the same state of tune, was also available in the commercial version of the Shuttle, sold simply as the "Honda Pro" initially.
The 1.5 L SOHC engine came in a wide variety of models, dual-point injection, single carbureted and dual carbureted. Those engines were available in the Japanese-market 25X and 25XT. The Japanese version of the sporting Si, initially the top version, featured a (ZC) D16A8/A9 1.6 L 16V DOHC engine.
But there was more to come, and in late 1989 the new top model of the hatchback was the new SiR, fitted with the 1.6-litre, 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp) at 7,600 rpm "B16A" DOHC VTEC engine. This, the first B engine, marked the introduction of Honda's variable valve timing and electronic lift control technology, or VTEC. By providing two different camshaft profiles—one for fuel economy, one for performance—the VTEC engines set a high-revving, naturally aspirated precedent for future performance variants of the Honda Civic. With its light weight, independent suspension and powerful engine, the car was well-received globally, receiving “Golden Steering Wheel Award” from the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, and ranking first in France’s l’Automobile magazine 1989 survey on car quality and reliability. The European model, badged as a "1.6i-VT", used a slightly less powerful B16A1 engine, which had an 8,200 rpm redline and made 150 PS (110 kW), although it made the same 111 lbf⋅ft (150 N⋅m) of torque as the Japanese market B16. In Japan, automatic-equipped SiR Civics also received the lower-powered engine.
The wagon, known in Japan as the Civic Shuttle, continued to be built until 1996. The commercial-use model was called the "Honda Pro"; it was replaced by a dedicated commercial delivery van called the Honda Partner starting with model year 1996.
All United States vehicles were fuel injected.
In 1990 the Civic had a light facelift. Some things that changed were the front bumper design, the front corner lights no longer had the two screws on the outside, the gauge cluster cover shape slightly changed, tail light units design changed, side moldings became thinner, and most American Civics received automatic seat belts due to changes in federal highway safety law. The sedan and wagon featured powered automatic shoulder belts that retracted from the b-pillar to a position halfway down the a-pillar when the door was open, while the hatchback received a standard style shoulder and lap belt mechanism that was attached to the door and was intended to remain buckled at all times. While this setup did satisfy the federal regulations, the front doors had to be opened very wide to allow access between the belt and the seat. Many Civic owners used the door mounted belts just as they would pillar mounted belts, buckling and unbuckling as necessary.
The base model with the lowest price and lowest standard (vinyl seats) interior, instrumentation, engine output and transmission. It was only available as a Hatchback. Engine was D15B1 16V SOHC, with dual port throttle body injection, 75 hp (55.9 kW) with restrictor on the tandem valve, and catalytic converter integrated into the exhaust manifold. Manual transmissions were 4-speed with cable operated clutch. Automatic four-speed transmission was also available.
Available as Hatchback, Sedan and Wagon, this had cloth seats, optional power steering, optional rear wash/wiper, optional clock, optional passenger door mirror and optional wheel covers. Engines were D15B2 16V SOHC with slightly higher output 92 hp (68.6 kW) due to an improved profile on the inlet side of the Single Overhead Cam and unrestricted tandem valve. Manual transmissions came as 5-speed with cable operated clutch. Automatic transmission was available as an option.
Available only as a Sedan, this had a higher level interior with tachometer instrumentation, electric windows, electric door locks, electric door mirrors, clock and wheel covers as standard. Engines were D15B2 16V SOHC, same as the DX, with 5-speed cable clutch transmission. 4- speed automatic transmission was optional.
Available only as a Sedan for 1990 and 1991 model years, this was the top of the Civic line with all LX standard features, and the D16A6 16V SOHC engine with 4-point injection, making 105 hp and 100 ft-lbs. It also had upgraded brakes on the front with 10.3" disks vs. the 9.5" on the STD, DX, LX and SI models. The 1991 had a higher geared steering rack - 3.1 turns lock to lock vs 4 for other and prior models.
Initially, the Civic Si hatchback was absent from the lineup, with only the CRX Si offered for the 1988 model year. That changed, however, for 1989, and the Civic Si hatchback was reintroduced, along with a 3-hp upgrade for the D16 engine across all Si trims (making 108 hp, 1988 CR-X Si 105 hp). This was the sportiest US market Civic, only available as a hatchback. The engine fitted was the D16A6 16-valve SOHC with 4-point injection and output of 108 hp (81 kW). It weighed in at 2,286 lb (1,037 kg), achieving a factory 0–60 mph of 8.1 seconds; and a quarter-mile time of 16.2 at 82 mph (132 km/h).
The main standard features of the Si trim were the power sun roof/moon roof, tachometer, passenger door mirror, color matched bumpers, dash clock, larger exhaust, front and rear anti-roll bars, 14" steel wheels with covers, and slightly deeper bucket sport seats. There was no power steering and no automatic transmission available (except in Canada). Additional options were air conditioning and fog lights, as well as the different Honda Genuine Accessory alloy wheels. In other markets, more powerful D16A7 and D16A9 engines were used instead, which made 122 hp (91 kW) and 132 hp (98 kW) respectively.
Compared to the previous generation, the Civic Si saw an improvement in handling, in part due to the double-wishbone suspension at all four corners and lower wind drag due to the sleeker body shape. As with all other trims, the Civic Si received a slight visual upgrade in late 1989, featuring revised bumpers and tail lights.
Due to the difference in engine output and modification potential between the American and JDM models, the second-generation Si sparked a popular trend of engine swapping, where tuners would replace the D-series power plant with a more powerful B-series motor.
|Standard Hatch||DX Hatch||Si Hatch||DX Sedan||LX Sedan||EX Sedan|
All weights listed in this table are in lbs. Air Conditioning added 49 lb (22 kg). Cargo capacity was an additional 100 lb (45 kg) hatchback, 75 lb (34 kg) sedan.
For most of Europe, the base model was the 1.3 L model, which was not available in the USA. Next was a 1.4 L SOHC straight-four dual carbureted engine that was available in 1988 to 1990 ; 1.5i GL and GLX models.
The European 1.6i GT and 1.6i-16 (depends on country) had a ZC like 1.6 L DOHC engine and produced 124 hp (D16Z5) or 130 hp (D16A9). In Europe the SiR was called 1.6i-VT and had a similar B16A1 engine. These top models were equipped with the VTEC system.
In South Africa, it was sold under the Honda Ballade branding.
Despite its image as an economical vehicle, the fourth-generation hatchback became popular in near stock SCCA autocross competition. The ED chassis dominated the Street touring category, competing against the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Fourth-generation Civic hatchbacks became famous among Honda Civic enthusiasts due to their lightweight design and formidable suspension layout which outperformed later generations.
References and notes
- Leeps (1989-06-04). "Rust Busters". New Straits Times / Google News Archive. Retrieved 2015-05-03.
- 自動車ガイドブック [Japanese Motor Vehicles Guide Book 1987~'88] (in Japanese), 34, Japan: Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, 1987-10-28, p. 231, 0053-870034-3400
- "Honda Civic History". channel4.com.
- "Fourth Generation Honda". honda.com.
- "Honda Civic 0–60 and 1/4 mile times". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12.
- "Honda Civic 4th Generation". Civic4g.com.
- "History of the Civic Si".
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