Honestly, back in day, we had 1997 - 98 1.3 Honda Civics as company cars for the courier company I was working at. At the same time we also had 1.3 Toyota Echos... Now the Civic was an amazing car, but it didn't have the VTEC and its acceleration wasn't at the level of the Echos. The couriers were pretty much fighting over the Echos and being a car guy, I couldn't understand why.
My friend had a Civic Vti 1.8 & that was fast. It was only when I took a ride in both I understood. Honda's 1.3 was seriously under powered; which is why later Civics never came with a 1.3 and that engine was given the VTEC and then out in the Honda City and the Jazz. That was when the engines made sense.