The New Honda Civic Si Is Still a Great Affordable Driver's Car
Honda, bless them, stayed true to the formula.
The Civic, in case you somehow made it this far without knowing, is Honda's compact sedan. The Civic Si is the sportier but not sportiest model slotting between the base model and the track-focused Type R. Honda gives the Civic Si a better engine — a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four with 200 horsepower — and the only option is a six-speed stick shift.
The Civic Si is the ideal car for great weather and California canyons. Honda, however, loaned me one to drive around my home in not-quite-as-picturesque southeast Michigan for a week in January. C'est la vie.
Yes. The Civic Si skipped the 2021 model year; now it's back all-new for 2022 based on the GP100 award-winning 11th generation Civic. Stylistic changes are sweeping with the car getting simpler and more sophisticated inside and out. Performance changes are subtler.
Honda added fixed-rate dampers and the rev-matching system from the Civic Type R. It has been retuned a bit to deliver more low-end torque. And the four-door sedan model is the only option, as opposed to the coupe that you could buy two generations back.
Honda builds fastidiously engineered (but still affordable) cars. The Civic Si, refined over decades, is one of the finest examples. Honda has stuck true to its formula: building a slightly hotter Civic.
The Civic Si hasn't gone upmarket like the Ford Mustang and Volkswagen GTI. It remains a fun, affordable, manual-transmission performance car. And unlike the Mazda Miata, it's practical enough to use as your primary vehicle.
As noted before, it was January in Michigan. So naturally, my sojourn with the Civic Si to the curviest roads on offer was curtailed by a predicted dusting of snow...that turned into several inches.
The Civic Si is a fun car to drive hard, which you can do often, because it's not especially quick. You get precise but not artificially weighty steering. The short-throw shifter feels phenomenal, even if the bite point on the clutch is a little high. If you want to live high in the rev range and hit every apex on the grocery store run, the Civic Si is your car.
The downside to the Civic Si is it's a bit rough and tumble for everyday driving, especially when you add a wife and kids into the mix. My son asked me why the Civic Si was so bumpy the second we pulled out of his daycare parking lot. And even if you don't level up to the high-performance tires (which you should), the Civic Si is not as adept as a Subaru WRX in the snow.
Like the base Civic, the Si is surprisingly spacious in the rear seating area and trunk. It can work as a family car. The seats are supportive. And you get the same horizontal bar design that looks cool in the standard Civic. That said, the Civic Si is very much a sports car, and in no way plush.
Honda's infotainment system can be a little laggy and take a while to warm up. And the graphic when you shift drive modes lingers for a looong time over the entire screen. That became an issue when I tried to slip the Civic Si into sport mode stealthily while driving to the family to my brother-in-law's house and received a look from my wife.
The Civic Si starts at $27,300, which is $2,100 more than the outgoing 2020 Civic Si. But the good part is there's one almost fully-loaded trim. You can add high-performance tires for an extra $200. An available HPD package adds some visual enhancements for $1,112. Even with the $1,015 destination and handling charge, it's hard to push a Civic Si past $30,000.
The zesty driver looking at a Civic Si would also check out the Subaru WRX which is also all-new, has a manual and starts at the same price with AWD and an extra 71 horsepower. He or she could consider leveling up to the base model Volkswagen GTI (also all-new) or the Hyundai Veloster N.
Powertrain: Turbocharged 1.5-liter VTEC, 6-speed-manual, FWD
Torque: 192 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
0-60 MPH: 6.8 seconds (per Car and Driver)
Bolster your grip on the wheel and look more cool in one fell swoop.