I have found 2005 Civic to be quite different from 2000 and 2007 in terms of initial acceleration or 'power punch', as you would label it.
Though Aspire is pretty fast but Civic is a different league altogether. Yes, I am impressed by Aspire even after using Civic for 10 years but like I said, Civic has better control and drag per gear.
I must admit that City has a good handling and it is a fun-to-drive car (except for the bumpy ride). I would label it a Baby Civic in terms of engineering
Challenge a PT Civic 2014 for initial pickup, this 1.5 will seem a bit faster than 1.8 till 120 KMPH. But im warning you not to try this with Manual Civics