2017 Honda Civic Si
The greatness of the Type R may be grabbing all the headlines, but the Si isn’t far behind
Words by: Adam Allen
Good times in Civic Nation are here again.
And how! Two years ago, we had a go in the then-new sedan and Coupe and declared it well worth the wait for those who had put up with a decade of Civic mediocrity. Recently, we came away trembling in awe of the new Type R, a car that had never been available to Canadians until now. We wanted to spend some time in the Si which should split the difference nicely between the top and bottom rungs of an impressive ladder. The Si has always been the darling of Civic Nation- loyalists will love this version and even those who’ve never counted themselves among its ranks will be looking to join the party.
Is that turbo whistle coming from under the hood?
Roll down the windows while you drive the Civic Si and you’ll hear the unmistakable soundtrack of a turbocharger hard at work. This is a sound that’s becoming increasingly familiar not only to enthusiasts but to a huge swath of the motoring public as engine sizes continue to shrink and turbos are relied upon to deliver the power people want but (hopefully) not at the expense of increased fuel economy. Everyone’s doing it now, even naturally aspirated stalwarts like the Porsche 911 and Ferrari 488. Yes, we dearly miss worshiping at the Temple of High Revs, especially where the Si is concerned. Before anyone whips themselves into a tizzy, realize that Honda’s decision to go turbo is a good one- this is the first time an Si has been endowed with meaningful low-end torque. Aside from an ill-advised clutch drop from the tachometer’s upper reaches, when was the last time you could easily spin the wheels off the line in a Civic?
Doesn’t it get left in the Type R’s dust?
A lot of cars will be left choking on the Type R’s exhaust fumes, not just the Civic Si. This will surprise exactly no one as the Type R’s horsepower and torque output eclipse the Si’s by 101 and 103, respectively. Despite the obvious disparity, the Si doesn’t feel seriously slower. Although its 1.5 turbo four is merely a massaged version of what comes in all the other versions the Civic lineup, it somehow feels more special than that. It certainly has a good set of vocals, sounding properly angry through its single centrally mounted exhaust finisher. The engine doesn’t have much mass to move around thanks to the Si’s relatively featherweight 1,306 kilos, and that svelteness pays dividends when the road starts to curve. A helical limited slip differential further adds to the fun, allowing you to get back on the power out of corners harder and earlier. We drove the Si immediately after returning the Type R back to Honda HQ and we were amazed about how accomplished it is compared to its fearsome big brother. Still not convinced? One of our readers emailed and asked when we’d review the Si and included a link to Car and Driver’s recently completed Lightning Lap challenge that takes place at Virginia International Raceway, a circuit known for breathtaking elevation changes and fearsome high speed left right transitions. Going up against some elite machinery like the Camaro ZL-1, BMW M760Li and Nissan GTR, the Si mustered a time that while much slower than those heavyweights, the drivers on hand were wholly impressed with what it was capable of pulling off. At the track’s uphill S-curves, the Si was the only car competing to keep accelerating through that stretch, and its terminal velocity through that sector was only a scant 6 kilometers slower than the mighty Porsche 911 Turbo S. If that little bit doesn’t impress, we aren’t sure what will.
Is the interior as impressive as the chassis?
It would be hard to compare any bit of the Civic Si to the exemplary chassis and drivetrain, but that doesn’t mean that the interior is a letdown. It’s a nice place to spend time, even if there is nothing remarkable that jumps out at driver and passengers. Highlights include a wonderful to behold shifter with a metal ball on top, and seats that look confining but are just the opposite- they are seriously comfortable but still hold you nicely in place when the going gets twisty. There are no options to choose from but each Si comes well-equipped with goodies like navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, air-con and a sunroof.
What might go wrong?
While we’re talking about the interior, we can’t pass up an opportunity to complain about the underwhelming infotainment system. Have mercy on your fans, Honda! Please send this tech back to finishing school, and include a volume knob while you’re at it. We also wish the pedals had better spacing to facilitate easier heel-and-toe downshifts, something you will likely want to indulge in because of the excellent gearbox. And although you get used to it, our last gripe is leveled at those that are responsible for the Si’s ECU tuning- when you stab the clutch in anticipation of selecting another gear, the engine hangs onto whatever RPM the engine is turning at that moment somewhat annoyingly.
Should I buy a Civic Si?
Folks interested in an affordable sports car who are perpetually indecisive should love the Si- the only choices you’ll be presented with at your dealer will be two doors or four with the only option being performance tires over the standard all-seasons. If the high-school aged versions of ourselves (and other rabid fans of the B16 powered screamers of the day) were somehow able to leap forward in time to take the current Si out for a spin, they’d scream themselves hoarse telling potential owners to pull the trigger as quickly as possible. If it’s been awhile since you flogged a Honda Civic that pasted an ear-to-ear grin on your face, you need to try the Si.
2017 Honda Civic Si – Specifications
- Price as tested: $30,758
- Body Type: 5-door, 5 passenger hatchback
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 205 @ 5,700 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 192 @ 2,100 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight: 1,306 kg (2,879 lbs)
- Observed Fuel consumption: 8.2L/100km (29 mpg)