THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Solid performance and Honda build quality at an affordable price.
- What’s Worst: Notchy manual gearbox.
- What’s Interesting: This is a world class sports sedan masquerading as a mere compact sedan.
During the past year we’ve tested just about every Honda Civic there is, with one exception – the Si.
In total there are six levels of Civics you can buy, seven if you count the redoubtable Type R that is made in England.
Just in Canada a grand total of 2,038,987 have been sold as of Oct. 30. For almost 20 straight years, Civic remains the most popular compact car in the country.
The first three models (DX, LX, EX) are powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine putting out 158 hp and 138 lb/ft of torque.
The top three (EX-T, Touring, Si) come with a 1.5-litre turbo direct injection inline four-cylinder. Even though it is three-quarters the displacement of the 2.0-litre, it produces 174 hp and 162 lb/ft of torque.
But wait! There’s more.
Honda knows a thing or two about turbocharging from its many Formula 1 and IndyCar wins and they applied that knowledge to the Si, increasing output to 205 hp and 192 lb/ft of torque.
Running on premium, the Si has a fuel rating of 8.4/6.2/7.4L/100 km city/highway/combined.
Like all Civics, drive is to the front wheels and the six-speed manual is the only transmission available on Si, with a standard limited slip differential that really helps putting the power down.
The Si is fitted exclusively with 18-inch high style alloy wheels.
Instrument placing has always been a Honda strong point and the Si seats the driver directly in front of the main gauge cluster with secondary stalks and controls within easy reach.
While the clutch is light with bite near the top of the pedal travel, which I like, the six-speed was very notchy and several times I missed a shift when the lever didn’t slot in where I wanted it to go.
With only 6,000 km on this week’s tester, I suspect the gearbox would probably loosen up over time.
Making the Si more fun to drive is a Sport Mode switch on the centre console.
The default mode is Normal, which is oriented to comfort. Press the button down and you go to Sport, which alters the suspension dampers as well as steering and throttle response, giving the Si a more direct, tighter feel.
With special racing style front seats with Si logo embossed on the head rests, it’s the back seat with 950 mm of legroom that impresses — being larger than some mid-size sedans that come to mind.
The trunk offers 397 litres of cargo space, which can be expanded by lowering the rear 60:40 split/fold seats.
The Si navigation system had something I’ve never seen before and that is of name of the next cross street displayed in large type across the top of the seven-inch centre stack touchscreen.
If you’ve every been some place for the first time, trying to find a street and the map on the Navi is too small or down low, you can see the street names at a glance. It’s a great idea.
Another great idea is the LaneWatch system that has a rear-facing camera on the underside of the passenger mirror. Flick on the signal stalk for a left-turn and there is a full monitor view of what’s behind you. The best part is you can use it to change lanes and see if there is room.
The Si has got lots of punch and it loves being pushed through winding roads where all the driving aids come into play, allowing the driver to throw it around a bit and not worry about it stepping out.
While it is a front-driver and should be prone to understeer, the limited slip diff puts torque down solidly going into and out of a bend.
Twisting up and through the hills leading up to Collingwood, the Si was stable and predictable and the sightlines were good.
When it came to passing, I dropped a cog and hit the gas and acceleration was strong, with the turbo spooling up smartly to provide all the power I needed.
It was lots of fun and after some 400 km, I arrived home with a smile on my face.
The Si then is really a sportscar with four doors and seats for up to five.
But if it’s pure power you’re after, there’s the torrid $40,890 Civic Type R with 306 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque that is officially the fasted production front-driver you can buy.
There is a Honda Civic for everyone, which is why it sells so well. But the Si gives sportscar response and handling at more than a reasonable amount of money.
Say “si” to Si!
2017 Honda Civic Si
BODY STYLE: Compact four-door sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, standard six-speed manual transmission
ENGINE: 1.5-litre direct injection turbo inline four-cylinder (205 hp, torque 192 lb/ft
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium recommended) 8.4/6.2/7.4L/100 km city/highway/combined
CARGO: 397 litres behind rear 60:40 split/fold seat
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICE: Si $28,490 not including $1,595 destination fee
WEB SITE: Honda.ca