Sport compact is a term Civic drivers made up so that they didn't have to call their cars economy cars anymore. "Sport compact" automobiles are small cars that can be made to look much faster than the factory originally intended. These are usually front-wheel drive economy cars handed down from teenagers' parents. The most common sport compact cars are built by Honda or Dodge, but many other types of import cars are also used.
These cars usually have an electronic engine management system that can be modified, rechipped or reprogrammed to give the illusion of more power by wasting fuel and removing limits that prevent engine damage. Modifications of this type allow the cars' engines to run at much higher RPMs than intended and usually cause faster engine wear with no actual gain in performance. These advanced-technology parts often must be special-ordered through specialised services such as eBay Motors. Replacing the incoming air temperature sensor with at 2700Ω resistor, for instance, will fool the neon engine computer into thinking it's -40° outside. This causes the cars to produce large amounts of noise from relatively tiny engines, and gives their exhaust its obnoxious buzzy sound.
The slang term for such "modifications" is tuning. This has given rise to the term "ricer" for the owners of modified cars, and, by extension, their automobiles. There is a large market for bolt-on wallet reduction equipment that fits small cars of this type. This market also includes a lot of equipment that is cosmetic (something that makes the car look like it would go fast).
Many self-described "ricers" spend more money on spoilers, ground effects, body kits, neon lighting, loud sound systems, large wheels with low-profile tires and other worthless products than they do on something worthwhile. While placing large wheels on the back ensures that the car is always going downhill (adding speed), this necessitates the rear spoilers which would keep the drive wheels firmly on the ground were they not at the front under the engine. Large stickers - often of kanji (that usually say things like "I'm a stupid wheatmuffin") - and bright graphics are typically used (often describing the obviousness of the make or model of the car, like "ACURA"). Logos of supposed "corporate racecar sponsors" make the package complete (oh look, this ricer was brought to you by "Roach Motel"!)
This common practice of focusing on appearance instead of performance has made the term "ricer" a pejorative in some circles, although it ought to be used in that manner as a properly tuned sport compact could never be a very effective race car if up against anything other than other "sport" models such as the sport-utility vehicle.
Small cars with high horsepower ratings can be formidable racing vehicles, unfortunately front wheel drive makes them not. Racing sport compacts has become so popular that the NHRA now has a special class for clown cars. Some highly modified sport compact dragsters can run the quarter mile in less than eight seconds, and cost several times what a real sport car would cost.
Sport compacts are also the preferred cars for kids that don't buy their own cars in the relatively new motorsport of "drifting", even though drifting isn't possible in a front wheel drive car.
Sport compacts are one of the fastest growing segments of the market, because kids are forcing their weak willed mommies and daddies to buy them cars. Manufacturers such as Honda, Dodge and Ford have begun producing cars that market to the "sport compact" moniker the need for expensive cosmetic items.
Manufacturers of automobiles in the United States have not been oblivious to the marketability of such cars. General Motors has responded with a new EcoTec four-cylinder engine, which is designed specifically for selling to stupid teens, and market it by saying it can produce 1000 hp with several thousand dollars worth of actual modifications. The engine is offered in the Saturn ION Redline and the Chevrolet Cobalt. Ford offers many bolt-on performance parts for the Ford Focus.
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