Even though all the news right now is about the arrival of the Civic Type R to our shores, that doesn’t mean that we should forget about the Honda Civic Si. It’s been Honda’s longest serving performance model – outlasting models like, the Prelude and S2000. Over the years, the Civic Si has taken many forms from its start as a slightly more powerful version of the Civic hatchback, to the awesome 1999 Civic Si Coupe and then in later years, the Civic Si sedan.
With the arrival of the all-new 2017 Civic Si I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel to see if it still had that magic that has kept fans coming back for years. Today the competition in the sport compact segment is hotter than ever with models, like the VW GTI, Ford Focus ST and the Subaru WRX.
After a week with the 2017 Civic Si Coupe I had a lot to love and a few things that made me say “hmph.” So here they are:
1. 205 horsepower is ok… merely ok.
When Honda announced that the new Civic Si would ditch its naturally-aspirated 2.4L four-cylinder for a turbocharged 1.5L, fans dreamed of the new Civic Si finally being able to compete with upwards of 230 horsepower or so. Well Honda had other plans, according to Honda, the new Civic Si could have more power, but to keep the engine working for miles and miles, Honda chose to keep its power specs reasonable. Honda’s advertising doesn’t even focus on the Civic Si’s horsepower rating, instead the focus is on its 192 lb-ft. of torque, which is 18 more lb-ft. than the old, larger engine.
With the extra torque, the engine’s midrange performance is excellent, but at times if you’re in the wrong gear you’re reminded that the Civic Si still only has a 1.5L engine under the hood.
2. Why can’t we have a Civic Si hatchback?
We get it that the Civic hatchback was designed and created by Honda’s European team, but why can’t Honda figure out a way to make an Si version of the hatchback? Yes the Civic Hatchback Sport comes standard with a turbocharged engine, but there’s more that Honda could upgrade, like the suspension and brakes, which would easily be fixed with an Si version.
During my week with the Civic Si Coupe I couldn’t decide between the Civic Hatchback Sport or the Civic Si. The Sport hatchback has 25 horsepower less than the Si, but is also more usable everyday with its hatchback layout.
3. It’s still a lot of fun
The same combination of fun to drive mixed in with a dose of practicality that we’ve always loved about the Civic Si, is still there. The Civic Si is easy as a standard commuter car, but when you want to have some fun, it’s ready. The nice “sport” button also tightens up the steering, suspension and throttle.
With either Normal or Sport mode selected, the Civic Si’s short throw six speed manual is excellent and the new engine actually has more usable torque than the old engine. Everyone loves to gripe about how the new electric power steering systems lack any feedback, but in the Civic Si, there’s plenty. My tester also had the optional summer tires, which provided gobs of gripe when I wanted to dial things up a notch or two.
4. Hopefully Honda has a fix coming fast for that missing radio knob
Everyone says it, but it’s really annoying. If you choose any of the Civic’s higher trim levels you are stuck with touchscreen volume controls. There are audio controls on the steering wheel, but I’ve always found it easier to just reach for a volume knob. In the Civic, the worst part is that the climate control knob is just below where the volume knob would be, so instead of touching the screen to adjust the volume, I ended up adjusting up the Civic Si’s climate control settings. Not cool!
5. Reasonable entry price, but limited options
Pricing for the 2017 Honda Civic Si starts at $24,775, which is reasonable in the sport compact segment. It comes standard with heated front seats, a sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a 450-watt audio system. All those things are great to start with, but if you want other items, like leather seats, a navigation system or even the Honda Sensing safety system, you’ll be disappointed to see that their missing from the options list. The only option are summer tires, that add an extra $200.