Honda’s Greatest Experiment

From what started out as little more than a Honda Civic with some fancy styling in 1983, to the VTEC-enhanced chariot of innovation that it became with the release of the SiR model in 1989, the Honda CR-X is one of the company’s automotive highlights. What’s more, it’s a car that is eager to strip the masculinity from the unsuspecting drivers of many brawnier horseless carriages.


An acronym for “Civic Renaissance Experimental”, the Honda CR-X was produced from 1983-1991, after which the CR-X name was transplanted onto the infinitely less cool CR-X del Sol, a car which should be erased from the collective memory of humanity. However, Honda’s karmic balance remains intact purely because of the CR-X SiR. Produced between ’89 and ’91, it featured the legendary B16A, otherwise known as the first engine with VTEC. VTEC for those who don’t know means the engine had variable valve timing, which translates to better efficiency at low RPM and better performance at high RPM.



If your eyes began to glaze over during that last paragraph, it all boils down to a bitchin’ soundtrack from when VTEC kicks in at around 5500 RPM, all the way up to its eye-watering 8000 RPM redline. The feisty, naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre unit produced 160 Japanese stallions at a stratospheric 7,600 RPM, a beautiful thing in today’s world of low-revving turbo engines. It didn’t have to push around much weight either, at just 970kgs the CR-X dashed to 62mph in just 7.2 seconds, faster than a modern-day 165 horsepower Fiat 595 Abarth. On top of it all, Honda decided to make this awesome little Japanese hatchback look like it was designed for the set of Blade Runner. The rad Kammback shape and glass tailgate both contribute to its futuristic styling.

Unfortunately, the CR-X SiR was only produced in Japan, so if you want one over here in the UK searching for an import is the only way, and they’re pretty few and far between. Luckily, however, the CR-X family is a talented one, winning Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year in 1984, 1988, and 1990, and a place in Road and Track’s 10 Best Cars of All Time in 1988. It’s safe to say that whatever iteration of the CR-X you find yourself in (except for the del Sol) you’ll be having a pretty good time.