Honda Civic Si delivers flawless performance, great price

By Peter A. Hubbard

(November 27, 2017) If you’re like the majority of us 99-percenters, you have champagne tastes but are hobbled by a bank account that requires you live on a beer budget, or an occasional white wine every now and then.  But now we can all take heart. We may not be able to afford a brand new Corvette or Porsche — much less a Ferrari or Aston Martin — but for those of us with a need for speed, the new 2017 Honda Civic Si just might provide an affordable solution. 

“How so,” you ask?  

Well, unless my glasses are hopelessly smudged, I think the MSRP reads just $24,975 including destination charge.  For that you not only get Honda’s boldly styled new 10th generation Civic sedan and couple — a darn good starting point — but a sweet turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, mated to a smooth 6-speed manual gearbox, activated by a short-throw shifter. 

The Si uses the same engine that’s found in the base Civic, but straps on a larger turbocharger that's good for 20.3 pounds per square inch of boost, developing 205-hp and 192 lb.-ft of torque. Compared with the previous generation Civic Si, this engine has the same horsepower but an additional 18 pounds-feet of torque.

Assisting your forward progress is a limited-slip helical-gear rear differential and 18-inch alloy wheels shod with meaty 235/40-R18 performance tires.  Worried about fuel economy? Don’t be. Our Civic SI two-dr. hardtop is rated at 28 city – 38 highway, for an average fuel economy of 32 mpg … more than respectable. 

While 205 horsepower to turn the Civic Si into an exotic hypercar, capable of 0-60 times under 3.0 seconds, Car & Driver reports the car turned in a very respectable 0-60 sprint of just 7.0 seconds.

Considering you get that kind of result — and save yourself about $100,000 in the process — I’d say that’s a bargain.  In other words, you’re getting the sweet taste of French champagne you crave, for the price of a six-pack of Coors Light! Hallelujah! 

This is the eighth Civic to be offered as an Si model.  And on a personal note, I’ve been reviewing cars long enough to remember the first few models to arrive — the charismatic and desirable Civic Si’s of the mid-1980’s to about 2000. I still hold fond memories of the first to arrive — the 1985 Civic CRX Si. It quickly topped the list of “the-car-I-most-want-for-graduation” of all the 18-year olds in the country!

Frankly, the SI versions offered since then have lacked a certain panache — and passion.  Speaking of passion, if you want a Civic with even more kick, you’re in luck.  Why? Because Honda has elevated the “Hot Hatchback” concept even higher, thanks to the arrival of its rally-inspired Civic Type R, which squeezes 306-hp at 6,500 rpm from the same turbo-charged, intercooled 2.0-liter inline-4, and delivers 295 lb-ft of torque from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm. That’s 100 more horses from the same engine.  My, these guys ARE miracle workers, aren’t they? The Type R delivers that, plus a shameless array of wings and scoops for about $9,000 more – $33,900 to be exact – quite the bargain.


The Civic Si no slough in the looks department, either.  The aggressive looks of the 10th generation Civic separate it from the herd, so to speak.  You’ll certainly have no trouble picking it out from the sea of “me-too” compacts in the mall parking lot. 

Offered in both sedan and coupe body styles (we drove the coupe), it adopts most of the styling from the Sport versions of the regular hatchback, including the more aggressive front bumper with its wider air intakes.

But the two SI body styles feature very different tail sections. Both have large, center-mounted trapezoidal exhaust tips, but the coupe keeps the full-length light bar taillight from the standard coupe and sports a larger rear spoiler. The sedan gets a slightly smaller one, with the rear brake light tucked discretely underneath.

I especially appreciate the fact Honda’s designers focused not just on the front, but also on the tail section of the Honda Civic Si. 

The angular tail end is nicely sculpted, with taillights, spoiler and exhaust all working in harmony to create a unified and aggressive look.  For waaaaaaay too long, designers seemed to stop working once they hit the C-pillar, so the backside of most cars were left to fend for themselves, with little or no creativity attached. Thankfully, there’s no such complaint here.


Both coupe and sedan versions come in just one specification (no LX, EX, WX, etc.).  That simplifies things on the assembly line, as well as the showroom, since there’s no laundry list of options to check off.  The Civic Si is essentially a “monospec” car. The only option is an upgrade to summer tires from the standard all-seasons, which only adds $200 to the sticker.

So the cabin features cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and a 450-watt, 10-speaker sound system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen that includes Sirius XM satellite radio, Pandora interface, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.  

Other features include hill-start assist, white ambient interior lighting, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a sunroof, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats that provide pass-through to the trunk, and metal sport pedals.

To help identify it as a genuine Civic Si, it features excellent bucket seats up front that offer extra bolstering. An Si logo is embroidered into the seatback, and there’s red accent stitching throughout the cabin. The shift knob is brushed aluminum and feels great in the hand.

Anyone seeking leather upholstery, a factory nav system, a range of interior colors, or the safety features such as the Honda Sensing system offered in other Civics is just plain out of luck.


This is not Honda’s first rodeo, so to speak. Given the fact we’re looking at Civic Si – Version 8, Honda has had plenty of time and the engineering budgets to perfect the “sport compact” concept it helped pioneer over 30 years now.  So it should come as no surprise that this current model is top notch.  

The ride and handling are basically flawless. The chassis and suspension have been heavily revised, with stiffer springs, more rigid stabilizer bars and solid front and rear bushings. Perhaps the most Significant upgrade is a two-mode adaptive shock absorber system which really changes how the car feels when you change from Normal over to Sport mode. This feature really does give the Civic Si added flexibility; the ride is comfortable when in Normal, pretty much like driving a non-Si version of the car. But when you flip into Sport mode everything sharpens: The steering gets tighter, the throttle more responsive and the suspension firms up to keep the car glued to the pavement.

Another highlight is the car’s precise and responsive steering feel. At 2.1 turns from lock-to-lock, the variable-ratio rack in this new Civic Si is far quicker than the last model’s 2.8-turn ratio. More importantly, it feels wonderfully linear, with a natural build-up of effort. Best of all, the dual-pinion, electrically assisted system serves up actual feedback.  And that feedback improves even more when you hit the Sport mode button.

As a result, the car handles remarkably well — on freeways and back roads alike.  Even on bumpy two-lane country lanes, the supple suspension, positive steering response and excellent grip helped you avoid the potholes and hustle through the corners. Head cross-country on the Interstate and you’ll appreciate the generally comfortable ride quality in Normal mode.  However, even in Sport mode, the ride can’t be classified as bone-jarring rough. Speaking of comfort, the Civic Si’s sport seats, with their modified frames and more aggressive bolstering, proved surprisingly road-trip friendly, even after hours in the saddle.


Without a doubt, there’s plenty of excellence to appreciate in the new Honda Civic Si.  Did I mention that it starts at under $25,000? So it gets a 10 in the “value for the money” category.  And if you’re comparison shopping it has a lower starting price than such competitors as the Volkswagen Golf GTI ($1,640 more) and the Subaru WRX ($3,080 more).  It actually is closer in price to cars like the Hyundai Elantra Sport and the Nissan Sentra Turbo.

The boost in power and responsive suspension really elevate the Civic SI … putting it in a class of its own.  I won’t waste too many more syllables singing its praises, but it truly does offer up an outstanding driving experience. In conclusion, I would like to single out the adaptive shocks for a little extra praise.  They really unlock the performance potential that this chassis is capable of providing. They keep the SI noticeably flatter in corners, which makes it easier to put power to the pavement.

If you enjoy carving up twisty country roads like I do, you’ll appreciate the quicker steering ratio (thanks to a larger power steering motor) supple suspension, the wider tires, larger brakes and tighter shift action.  They all work in together in harmony to pay big dividends when tallying up this car’s “fun factor.”  If the 2017 Honda Civic Si has any flaws I certainly couldn’t find any worth mentioning. It’s swift as an arrow, and hits the bulls-eye in every significant category.