Car buyers looking for something different than what they would find in the showrooms of mainstream car dealers tend to look towards parallel importers like Naza, who often bring in wheels that are not officially sold in our market. In this sense, parallel importers make the impossible possible.
We were invited to the Naza World showroom at Petaling Jaya just off Federal Highway today to have a look at a trio of cars that just reached our shores from Europe – the Mercedes-Benz CLC 180, the Ford Focus RS, and the Honda Civic Euro Si. When the Naza representative offered us a chance to ‘have a go’ at the cars, I immediately responded, “Focus RS, please.”
Then, came the tentative reply, “Except the Focus RS. That unit has been sold.” Between the Merc and the Civic Euro, I chose the Honda, and off I went for a quick drive from the showroom premises to Saujana in Subang and back.
Our test car is powered by the 1.8-litre R18 SOHC i-VTEC identical to our local spec Civic, but tuned to slightly different characteristics. Here, it is mated to a 6-speed automated manual transmission in comparison to the 5-speed slushbox offered by the local variant.
Another notable difference between the Civic Euro and our run-of-the-mill Civics is the rear suspension design. The Civic Euro utilizes a simpler torsion beam rear suspension in contrast to the independent double-wishbone setup used by the sedan.
Heavy rush hour traffic dictated against pushing this car to its limits, but certain characteristics, such as its lively steering response shone through quickly. Cornering at moderate speeds produced very minimal body roll, and although the suspension has a typically firm European setup, it was also pliant enough to make driving this car not at all tiring. Potholes and uneven surfaces were absorbed with convincing thuds.
Gear changes on the 6-speed AMT can be triggered by using either the gear lever, or steering mounted paddles. Like the BMW SMG or Alfa Selespeed transmissions, accomplishing smooth gear changes on the Civic Si requires a certain degree of finesse on the throttle. Upon an upshift, it is necessary to slightly ease off the throttle to allow the revs to come down before banging in the next gear. Failure to do so would simply result in a longer, jerkier gear change.
The Civic Si is a car that is easy to live with on a day-to-day basis, as it offers a substantial amount of driving fun and involvement without being too tiring as some of the more ‘focused’ cars out there.
From what we were able to discern, our test car seemed to be in good mechanical shape. The cabin showed obvious signs of aging, although the Naza representative present assured us that appropriate restoration work will be performed before the car is delivered to its prospective customer.
A total of six units of the Honda Civic Si currently resides in Naza’s stockyards. Prices of these six range from RM155k to RM165k depending on the availability of a moonroof.
Other alternatives on offer include five units of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class based CLC 180, which go for under RM240k each. If you’re looking for something with more brute muscle under its hood, then for RM328k you might want to consider the last remaining unit of the Ford Focus RS.