We have both. 97 VTi Manual and 02 VTi Prosmatic.
97 is more comfortable. Feels a lot more powerful. I once raced a CL7---while I lost, the car almost kept up with it. Keep in mind that my car had 100000 km on the odo. The car still gives around 10 km/L.
The 02 works extremely hard even to beat a Suzuki Mehran. It gives around 8 km/L. The ride is bumpy. The only good thing it has over the 97 model is better road grip. But if you are moving at Mehran's pace, you don't need better road grip, do you?
If I could buy a brand new 6th gen Civic today, I would.