When our Honda Civic Si arrived at Car and Driver HQ to begin its 40,000-mile stay, we were pretty damn excited. For the next 52 weekends or more, we plan to squeeze as much entertainment out of this affordable sports sedan as possible. So far, that's meant driving to Florida for an IMSA Endurance Cup race at Sebring and brushing against cones at an SCCA autocross event. It's a kickoff to what we're planning to be an exciting long-term test.
The options list for the Civic Si is as short as its throw from first to second gear. The Blazing Orange Pearl ($395) is exclusive to the Si and is the same color as our favorite Buffalo Wild Wings sauce (Spicy Garlic). We also opted for the High-Performance Tire package ($200) that wraps the 18-by-8-inch wheels with sticker Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 rubber. Our preference for the black standard wheels over the optional blade-style wheels saved us $1708 on an item we plan on replacing with an aftermarket set later. The Car and Driver mailbox is open to your best (or comically bad) suggestions.
For a year, Honda put our favorite sport compact on ice and snuffed out the coupe entirely). Thankfully, the Si is back as a longer, lower, wider, and more serious-appearing sedan. Visually, the Civic Si has gone from Gundam Wing to grown-up, inching closer to the maturity and size of the Accord. The interior is an especially welcome improvement, with a bigger 9.0-inch touchscreen, climate control knobs with digital readouts, and a comfy thick grip area. Every Si gets the same red-and-black cloth interior, but its equipment largely matches that of the less powerful Civic Touring, sans the leather. The new Si's improvements have resulted in a $2120 price increase, and for that much, we wished it retained the old car's heated seats.
Unfortunately, the new Civic Si hasn't evolved into a more powerful unit. Horsepower from its turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four has dropped from 205 to 200 horsepower, but its 192 pound-feet of torque arrives 300 rpm sooner. Our long-term car's initial test numbers show that despite losing five horsepower, it matched the 6.6-second run to 60 mph of the previous-generation Civic Si sedan and even mirrored its 14.9-second quarter-mile at 95 mph. However, in our passing-time metrics, which are done in top gear, the new Si shows off that lower torque peak with a 2.2-second-quicker time from 30 to 50 mph and a 0.1-second-quicker run from 50 to 70 mph. All in all, most won't notice a difference by the seat of their pants, but the car's excellent handling and superb steering make us wish the Si had a few extra ponies.
In our initial testing, we experienced some significant brake fade during the 100-mph stop, which triggered a brake-system warning light. The 100-mph stop took 316 feet, and although that's a reasonable performance and similar to the result on the 2020 Civic Si sedan we tested on identical tires, we didn't encounter as much fade or a brake-system warning light on the previous-gen car.
Our most exciting trip so far was a weekend drive to Slalom City for an SCCA autocross event held on a Cummins test track in Columbus, Ohio. Over six runs, the Civic Si proved to be a fantastic autocross machine, and its helical limited-slip differential made slicing between cones a grippy endeavor. The Civic Si also proved pleasant on the eight-hour roundtrip, and the trunk easily held our tools, air compressor, luggage, cooler, floor jack, jack stands, and helmet. It's a good sign when the most challenging part of the race weekend is neatly taping the letters and numbers on the front doors. We look forward to giving it a more challenging weekend at an actual track day soon, as we did with our long-term 2019 Honda Civic Type R.
With less than 6000 miles on the odometer, the logbook has already started to fill with comments on what's shaping up to be a love/hate relationship with the sporty suspension. The Si's stiffer suspension, chassis, and performance tires can sometimes make for a bouncy romp over Michigan's abundance of expansion joints and uneven (and sometimes missing) pavement. "Not the most relaxing commuter," commented one editor. Senior features editor Greg Fink noted: "stiff suspension + morning coffee = stained shirt."
The adaptive dampers that were standard on the previous Si aren't offered on this car. That equipment is instead reserved for the new Integra A-Spec, which is essentially an Acura-badged Civic Si with leather seats. Here, there's no comfort mode for our aging backs and growing bums.
The three drive modes—Normal, Sport, and Individual—don't really transform the Si. Sport mode adjusts the steering weight and throttle response while deactivating the stop-start function. It's a shame this mode doesn't add more character to the Si's mostly quiet dual mufflers. Individual mode allows the combination of Sport steering with Normal throttle response. The stop-start function can also be switched off at any time with a button that's separate from the drive modes. Honda has given the Civic Si a rev-matching system, previously only available on the Civic Type R, as well. This can be a little annoying to enable or disable, as it's done within the infotainment touchscreen under vehicle options, which can only be accessed if the parking brake is on.
The Civic Si has many increasingly rare qualities: It's a sedan that's sold with a six-speed manual transmission exclusively, and its little rumble is fueled by forbidden apple juice. That it remains available is cause for celebration. We're thankful it's back, marking the beginning of an 11th generation since the first Civic debuted in the 1970s. So, before the Civic Si becomes another fun car replaced by a crossover, we've got 40,000 miles to reach and more cones to kill.
Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 5977 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 29 mpg
Fuel Tank Size: 12.4 gal Observed Fuel Range: 350 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $0
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