Car Review: 2017 Honda Civic Si SedanAug 23rd, 2017
by PETER BLEAKNEY |
2017 Honda Civic
The Civic returns to Si form
Pros: Efficient, roomy, and oh-so fun to drive
Cons: Infotainment interface, featherweight clutch
Value for money: Good
What would I change? Add a volume knob
How I would spec it? Aegean Blue Metallic
Japanese company brings the magic back with this spritely, sports-oriented compact sedan
With the red-hot Civic Type R grabbing all the performance headlines thanks to its pavement-searing 306 horsepower and, err, retina-searing body accouterments, it’s nice to see Honda’s newfound performance mojo has also blessed the latest Civic Si. Yep, something’s happening at Honda, and it’s all good for those who mourn the days when small cars from Honda offered big thrills.
The Si badge has been adorning various hotted-up Civics since the late 80s, but it’s fair to say the Si cars have not been particularly inspired as of late. Consider this 2017 version, which comes in both coupe ($28,890) and sedan ($28,490), to be a return to form.
Although the form has seen a transformation of its own. This 10th-gen Civic dwarfs the cars of old. Tested here is the Sedan Si, considerably longer and wider than the outgoing model (although about 45 kg lighter), and under the hood is a 1.5-litre turbocharged four. Huh? Si enthusiasts were weaned on lightweight tinder boxes with racy, naturally-aspirated fours that revved to the stratosphere and screamed like a hyena having a colonoscopy.
Fear not. This latest Si might not follow Honda’s traditional template, but it is an exceptionally well sorted and highly entertaining performance-on-a-budget conveyance that delights with a bratty, grin-inducing ebullience when pushed beyond it otherwise quite civilized countenance. So what does this Si offer over and above the regular Civic sedan with its 1.5L turbo?
The Si engine gets a larger turbocharger and increased intake and exhaust flow, boosting horsepower from 174 to 205, and torque from 167 to 192 lb-ft. It is hooked to a six-speed manual with a stubby rifle-bolt shifter that will warm the cockles of Honda-philes hearts. No automatic on the Si menu, thank you. This new Civic’s already impressively rigid structure benefits from the Si’s stiffer springs, firmer bushings and thicker roll bars; and all this is tempered by standard multi-valve adaptive dampers. Rolling on 245/40R18 Eagle Sport all-season tires, the ride is firm but never intrusive, and selecting Sport mode firms it further yet still retains civility.
This is a brilliantly tuned chassis that shows wonderful neutrality for a front driver, and it just begs to be leaned on. Thanks to the standard front mechanical limited-slip differential, the Si hauls itself through the bends like a champ. The quick, accurate and feelsome steering is your ally, as is the snickety shifter. Get this sedan up on its toes and it flows and dances, eating up a twisty road with glee.
It’s plenty quick too. This being a small-displacement four, when you’re off-boost the hamsters feel like they are on work-to-rule, but once you crest 3,500 rpm it goes on a tear with linear enthusiasm, snarling to a 6,500 redline. On full throttle upshifts, the close-ratio six-speed lands the four-pot in the sweet spot every time. Granted, this engine pretty much runs out of poop at six grand, which is almost 2,000 rpm shy of some of Honda’s more revvy past offerings. Different times we live in.
The Recaro-style bolstered Si-specific seats are fabulously comfortable and supportive, and the driving position is spot on. A word of warning though: if the metal-capped shift knob has been sitting in direct sunlight, it will do its best to brand the shift pattern right into your palm. Yes, I realize there will be some lunatic-fringe Si freaks who will keep the sunroof open when parked just to get that badge of honor.
Oh, and peer under the hood and you actually see an engine. You know, big metal bits, wires – evidence of real mechanical goings-on.
There are no options available for the Si sedan. What you see is what you get, and that is quite a bit. Standard kit includes 7-inch touchscreen with navigation, rearview camera, 452-watt 10-speaker audio, heated front seats, leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Honda Lanewatch Blind Spot Display, sunroof, LED headlights, 18-inch alloys and those racy go-fast body bits. What you can’t get is Honda Sensing (adaptive cruise, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, etc.).
Lest you think this snarky sedan is nigh on perfect, allow me to pick out a few foibles. The pedals are not ideally placed for heel-and-toe action, the featherweight clutch does not match the more meaty steering and shifter, and the engine has an annoying tendency to hang on to revs between upshifts. Plus, I could go and on about the lack of an audio volume knob.
Ah, but in the grand scheme of things these are relative nits. The fact is, Honda has fashioned a legitimate performance car worthy of the Si badge – it begs to be thrashed, and rewards in kind. Yet, unlike Si’s of old, it also settles into a perfectly comfortable daily driver. Like I said, these are different times.