by John Tallodi
The Civic Si Coupe arrived last year as the sportier offering of the refreshed Civic range. It may have lost the naturally aspirated engine of its forebear but the latest iteration promises the usual turbocharged benefits of enhanced performance and reduced fuel consumption.
Despite the aggressively styled exterior the interior is far more subdued and offers a pleasant mix of quality materials, the sporty nature of the Si highlighted with some unique design details and supportive Si branded front seats. The short manual gear lever falls easily to hand and the usual Honda solidity and build quality is evident throughout.
Head and leg room should suit most occupants up front although the rear is a tighter squeeze and best for those of average height, the seats do fold flat which helps to extend the relatively meager trunk space.
The Civic Si offers one of the most accomplished front-wheel drive chassis around, grip levels are class-leading when it is fitted with summer tires and the all-season setup does nothing to diminish the fine handling balance.
The Si features some suspension upgrades over the standard Civics and despite a stiffer setup it still offers an excellent ride quality. Steering and brake-feel too are well-weighed and the Civic Si is one of the most enjoyable sporty coupes to drive in a class which includes such accomplished opposition as the Focus ST and Golf GTI.
The 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four that does duty in the rest of the Civic range has been uprated to offer 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. A limited-slip differential is fitted to the front-wheel drive system and a 6-speed manual transmission is standard.
The diminutive engine capacity means that outputs are slightly down on the competition and despite a lighter curb weight, the Civic Si still trails the best in class to 60mph with a claimed 6.3-second time. It is not that far behind though and the extremely capable chassis will see you make up lost time around the bends, just remember to keep the engine on the boil as it can bog down at lower revs while the turbo spools up.
What you won’t get is a characterful engine or exhaust note, a trait similar to most of the competition but a bit more noticeable in the Civic Si as the move to turbocharging is relatively new for the brand and memories of high-revving V-Tec engines will still be fresh for some enthusiasts.
City driving should see you average 28mpg while highway cruising is a claimed 38mpg. This combines to an excellent 32mpg overall.
The Civic Si is available in one trim level with a range of eye-searing exterior color options to choose from.
Standard equipment levels include 18-inch alloys, adaptive dampers, LED daytime running lights, fog lights, Honda LaneWatch lane assist system, auto-headlights, heated power side mirrors, keyless entry and cruise control.
A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone and Bluetooth integration is also included as is a 10-speaker audio system with HD radio capability and USB interface.
Options are limited and the most notable items are high performance summer tires, 18-inch machine-cut alloys, auto-dimming interior mirror, interior illumination and a wireless phone charger.
The latest Honda Civic Si trades in its characterful naturally aspirated engine for a smaller capacity turbocharged unit that still provides decent performance with much improved economy levels.
The Civic Si may not be the quickest car in its class but it handles as well as any competitor, add to that a great ride quality and a price point that undercuts key rivals and this sporty coupe should definitely be on you shortlist. The aggressively styled exterior may not appeal to everyone though.