When somebody says Civic, the car most would think about is the sixth-generation model. Most of you might know it better as the EK generation. It's still a capable and good-looking sedan (or hatchback) even after all these years and, believe it or not, it's now 25 years old.
But hold on a minute, you say. You could argue that the EK Civic was released in 1996 since that's the year the Philippines and the rest of the world got it. Here's the thing though, it was introduced in its home market of Japan in 1995.
The first Civic EK rolled of the Japanese assembly line in September of 1995 with a full range of variants and body styles (three-door hatchback, sedan, coupe). It had a lot of firsts for the Civic range at the time and you could even say it was revolutionary in some ways. For starters, it was the first Civic to come with continuously variable transmission and it was used for the Japan-spec models and was called the Multi Matic. It was also the first to offer a three-stage VTEC (VTEC 3) engine, the precursor of i-VTEC. We would see the VTEC 3 engine in the succeeding generation.
There were 1.3-liter, 1.5-liter, and 1.6-liter engines in various states of tune. All-wheel drive would be offered in select variants in Japan as well. Three transmission choices were available, namely the aforementioned Multi Matic CVT, a four-speed automatic, and a five-speed manual. Because of the drastic new look over its predecessor, the EG, cleaner engine tech, space efficiency, and performance even in standard trim, the EK Civic won the Japan Car of the Year in 1995.
We would get our hands on the EK Civic by mid-1996 with two variants to choose from. These were the LXi and VTi. The LXi used a 1.5-liter engine and if you're curious as to what the 'i' meant, it stood for fuel injection. The EK Civic was the first compact sedan in the country to offer fuel injection in all of its variants. The top-spec Civic at the time of its launch was the VTi with its 1.6-liter VTEC engine. With over 120 PS under the hood, it was also the most powerful car in its segment but more was to come. It had double-wishbone suspension on all four corners too, so not only did it ride well but it also delivered great handling.
When the range was facelifted in 1998, we got our hands on the SiR. When it was launched, there was no doubt who made the most power in its class. With 160 PS, it has become an icon in its own right. The best part? The SiR was assembled locally at the Santa Rosa, Laguna facility.
Of course, we can't talk about the EK Civic without mentioning the Type R. It was this generation that the Civic got the red H badge. The high-revving 1.6-liter B16B engine made 185 PS and the car was buttoned down, stiffened, and lightened to give an unfiltered driving experience.
If the EG Civic is what helped Honda gain footing in the Philippines, the EK is the car that well and truly put them on the map. Without it, Honda's meteoric rise in the country probably wouldn't have been possible. It's one of the most significant cars of the '90s not just here but worldwide as well.
So if you have a sixth-generation Civic in your garage right now, give it a pat on the hood and say happy birthday to one of the best compact sedans of its era.