Full Disclosure: I’m far from a race car driver, have limited track experience and never drove the original Civic Si. So with that in mind, you’re getting a raw, unadulterated review of the all new 2017 Civic Si. Can you dig it? Also, Honda put me up for 2 nights at a hotel and flew us out to their proving grounds on this jet.
First and foremost, the all new Civic Si costs a mere $23,900 (plus $200 for summer tires). While it’s no drop in the bucket, compared to some of the other cars in its class it might be considered a steal. Take for instance a fully loaded GTI. It pushes close to the $40,000 mark. Sure, it offers some features not found on the Civic Si – such as adaptive cruise control – but it’s a vast gap.
This is the first Civic Si to offer an adaptive suspension. Which is to say a tap of the SPORT button and the car’s suspension tightens to offer a more compliant, responsive ride. Which mind you is discernible on both surface streets and highways. In fact, it’s almost instantly apparent – you can feel the road’s imperfections – when SPORT mode is engaged. In other words, it’s not just all marketing speak, or a simple remapping of the throttle or steering. Though it does sharpen both of those aforementioned things. So what’s the net result of SPORT mode? A car with greater versatility perhaps more so than previous generations, since less of a comfort compromise has to incur for day-to-day commuting. My only gripe: I wish the suspension was stiffer.
I should also note the presence of a limited slip diff. Keep in mind the Civic Si is a front wheel drive car. And front wheel drive often is associated with understeer. The Civic Si’s limited slip, however, does a great job of putting the traction down and pulling it through the corners. I had the luxury of driving it on Honda’s proving grounds in the Mojave Desert. It’s a fairly technical course, and while a car with a rear wheel drive system could arguably lap it with a faster time (driver and car dependent), the Si does an admirable job of keep things planted.
The Gear Box
If you’re considering the Civic Si over the regular Civic, it’s likely you’re an “enthusiast”. In other words, you probably know how to drive a manual. And if you don’t, well, you’re screwed. Or you better learn, because the Si ships in manual only. 6 gears to be exact. And while I can’t attest to what Honda says is the best manual gear box in the business – largely because I haven’t driven enough manual gear box cars in recent – I can say it’s excellent, offering short throws, gears that easily slip into place and a notchy feel that further elevates the Si’s prowess to an enthusiast level. To lend credence to that, I long drove a 20th Anniversary 2003 VW GTI, and I thoroughly enjoyed that 6 speed. However, it was far from smooth, with 3rd gear always proving troublesome. Nevertheless, it’s a reasonable benchmark.
Under the hood you’ll find a 1.5l turbo. Sadly, this Si’s (horse) power is on par with the last; 205 horses to be exact. However, torque is up, albeit slightly – 20 lb/ft – to 195. But Honda says it comes in earlier – 2,100 RPM – than the previous generation thanks to the turbo charger.
In case you’re looking at the regular Civic, you might want to know its peak horsepower is 174. So there is some extra “go” to enjoy if you opt for this model. Sound wise, it’s what you’d expect from a 1.5l engine. It’s not bad, it’s not great. That said, Honda has added a nice touch by making the dual exhaust exit as a single port.
It’s a Civic. And yes, you can get the Si in Coupe and Sedan. There are some differences and ones that are very needed and appreciable in my eye.
First is the all black grill. It’s all blacked out and looks slick. Next, is the spoiler. It’s not over the top, though it will likely still egg-on some car’s in its class. Maybe even a Porsche Boxster. I already mentioned the single port exhaust. And lastly are the 18″ wheels (235/40) that give it a sporty more aggressive look. Because these tires are thinner (if you opt for the summer ones), so to speak, it does reduce the Si’s roof height, making it 5mm lower than the normal Civic.
Inside you’ll find seats with additional bolster. They’re Honda’s own seat, not a licensed or aftermarket type. The stereo is a no name 450 watt system. It sounds decent, but nor did it test its limits. Android Auto and CarPlay are standard – thank God.
And some other goodies: The brakes are bigger than the regular Civic (i.e. more stopping power). 12.3″ in the rear (1.2″ larger) and 11″ in the front ( .9 bigger). Our Civic Si’s had Honda’s HPD pads, or Honda Development Parts, which add additional stopping power.
If you’re reading this review, it’s likely that you’ve owned a previous generation Si, or you’re looking to step it up to an enthusiast level car. Personally, I prefer these “skunk works” vehicles over the regular ones, partially because they look different and help separate them from the million other Civics already on the road. The other part? They drive with more prejudice, which is my way of saying they’re not for everyone. The ride comfort suffers from their sporty nature, but that’s what makes them so lovable, attractive and some what niche. Plus, you can throw in some other aftermarket parts for a few more bucks and your Civic Si will be your Civic Si.