When we first tested the 10th generation Honda Civic last year we were left yearning for a manual gearbox. We got our wish as Honda recently brought us its all-new 2017 Civic Si, the first turbocharged Si in the model’s history.
Just for a quick review, we tested both coupe and sedan Civics last year and really enjoyed our time in both. And given the sales numbers for the new models our opinions were shared by many the world over. This model year we see the sporty Si version arrive in showrooms and Honda has a hit on its hands with this hot tamale as well which also arrives in coupe and sedan body styles.
Our recent tester was the Si two-door coupe basted in Rally Red paint. Front nose to tail this car screams “drive me” thanks to model specific grille, chin spoiler, rear wing spoiler, and center outlet sport exhaust. There are also the high-performance tires on 18-inch alloy wheels along with a few nice interior touches. And all of this is before you even climb behind the wheel and fire the engine.
Under that hood is the first factory turbocharged engine for Civic Si that comes in the form of an enhanced version of the 1.5-liter 16-valve DOHC direct-injected four-cylinder found in the base Civic models. This powerplant boosts output to 205hp and 192 lb. ft. torque across a nice wide powerband with plenty of oomph right from the get-go. Making this truly a drivers car is the exclusive six-speed manual transmission that is legacy for Si. It is slick shifting with precise gear selections and the clutch is just as forgiving in traffic as it is impressive when really pushing this car to its limits. This may just be the first car I did not experience any missed shifts in while really hammering away at the slush box.
Ride and handling is superb in the new Civic Si thanks to some 25 percent increase in body rigidity over the previous model. This also translates to lower noise, vibration, and harshness that usually transmits directly to the cockpit and occupants. Honda engineers took quite a few other steps to reduce NVH while also making the vehicle quieter. These methods include acoustic windshield, sound-absorbing under panels, and body sealing. Si models get specially tuned MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension components as well as another first for Si models – two-mode adaptive damper system. The ADS offers a comfortable ride with drive mode in normal but stiffens things up when the driver selects the sport setting.
I split my week about evenly between normal and sport driving modes and enjoyed my time in both. Sport mode also tightens the electric power steering response up a bit and increases throttle-by-wire inputs slightly. I found the powerband to be quite to my liking but I did bang up against the rev-limiter more than a time or two but thanks to visual warnings and the audible output of the engine I managed to keep anything from getting out of hand.
The 2017 Honda Civic Si coupe will seat up to four but I would not feel right having to make any adults ride in the rear seat area as it is quite tight. Legroom is decent but overhead things are a bit low. The front sport buckets are quite comfortable and nicely supportive as they did a wonderful job keeping my butt where it was supposed to be when I was twisting the steering wheel left and right. Seating material is cloth, which worked out quite well as we saw outside temps soaring to the century mark during our week. The leather steering wheel and shifter did get a bit warm in the afternoon sun but were manageable, although I did have to put a cloth over the metal cap on top of the shifter as I did not want the shift pattern seared into my right palm on sunny days.
Honda provides all of the creature comforts and amenities one would require in a compact coupe with our tester seeing such items as power moonroof with tilt, electric parking brake, cruise control, push-button start, keyless remote, Honda LaneWatch, 7-inch driver information display with selectable performance content, 7-inch color touchscreen audio display with integrated climate controls, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and 450-watt/10-speaker premium audio system.
Pricing for the 2017 Honda Civic Si coupe starts at $23,900 with our tester arriving with a final window sticker of $24,975. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
Honda Civic performance is not stopping with the Si model – far from it. You see, they brought back the hatchback model so they could build this cool version called the Civic Type-R, and yeah, I hope to see one of those babies in the test driveway in the not too distant future. For now, Si is the hot new kid on the block and it drives every bit as good as it looks.