Honda Civic Si Test Drive

By Barbara & Bill Schaffer 

When Honda launched the all-new Civic for the 2016 model year they were adding a new chapter to what has been one of the most important cars in automotive history. At that point, Honda had sold more than 10 million Civics in the United States since its 1973 introduction.  Worldwide, that number was more than 35 million.

Honda has always been a technological and mechanical leader, but this all-new 10th generation car took on a whole new striking design language along with a larger size and a new level of maturity. Even with the extra size and more complex elements, the weight has stayed about the same, a svelte 2,900 pounds

At the time of the introduction, Honda promised more variations coming including an Si performance model and an even higher performance Type R. (We’ll have more about the Type R later, it’s scheduled for a Schaffer test in a few weeks.)

The Civic Si sedan arrived in our garage recently and we had an enjoyable time getting to know this first turbocharged version of the Civic. It’s also available as a sexy coupe, but the sedan is a head turner, too.

The heart of the Civic Si is a dinky 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with DOHC, direct injection and a turbocharger which adds a new level of performance to this sport model. The turbo adds up to 20.3 psi of boost to produce 205 horsepower and 192 lb.ft. of torque which peaks at 2300 rpms. That’s a lot of power out of such a small displacement engine. Our test car had Honda’s super smooth shifting six-speed manual transmission and what’s especially interesting is that no automatic transmission available!

 

Honda has been offering Si versions of the Civic since 1999, and this new one produces good numbers, but not significantly better than some of the earlier versions.  A zero to 60 mph acceleration run takes 6.3 seconds. The Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. We averaged 31.5 mpg during our tests.

 

The rigid new body structure, upgraded chassis and upgraded drive components make it feel more like a sports car than a five-place sedan. It has an Adaptive Damper System, MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link independent rear suspension. The steering is a dual-pinion, variable ratio system with electric boost. It rides on wide 235/40 R18 tires.

We drove through the mountains on one of our favorite twisty roads, filled with tight hairpins, tricky off-camber sweepers and occasional rough obstacles. The car is solid, flat and well-balanced. It was so much fun that we turned around and drove it again.

The spacious interior features well-bolstered and heated sport seats in front and a wide bench seat in the back, with room for three average size adults. The rear head room is excellent, allowing adequate space even for taller passengers. Even the sedan’s trunk is a spacious 14.7 cubic feet, making it one of the largest in its class.

The all-new instrument panel layout uses a seven-inch digital screen with a large analog tachometer which has a digital speedometer centered near the top center. The display changes as the driver selects the sport mode.

Atop the center stack is the seven-inch infotainment screen, just below the air vents. The touch screen no knobs which makes it difficult to adjust while the car is moving. More recent Honda products have given into complaints about the lack of knobs and returned the volume and tuning knobs to the face of the system. We expect to see that change in this model when all the old units are used up.

The same screen is also the display for the Honda LaneWatch system (which displays a picture of the blind spot area on the passenger side of the car) along with the backup camera image. While we like the picture produced by the LaneWatch blind spot indicator, we prefer systems which have indicator lights in the mirrors because they are more overt and warn the driver of other vehicles on both sides of the car.

Of course, the Civic Si, has all the important audio and digital links like Bluetooth hands free, Apple Play, Android Auto, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, etc.      The Civic does have a full range of electronic safety devices, but at this price point it lacks availability of some more upper end driving aids like lane departure warning and active cruise control.

The 2018 Honda Civic Si sedan with six-speed manual transmission has a base price of $24,975, including the destination charge. You can’t add an automatic or any expensive packages, that’s the price that includes everything. Honda does offer a fancy set of wheels, some mats and a few after-market style accessories, but other that, it’s a one price deal. It comes in six exterior colors with black cloth interior.  But what you get for that price is an extremely fun car to drive, that gets very good fuel economy and can haul an average family. What more could an enthusiast ask for? If that’s not quite right, consider the coupe, at the same price.

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