While the Honda Civic Type-R has been making waves worldwide since last year – this is what happens when a new version of a cult classic is on the way – the Civic Si trim has kind of been flying under the radar.
The reasons for this are manifold, but you can understand Honda wanted to ensure the arrival of the Type-R – which is making its way to North America for the first time later this year – wouldn’t get watered down by the Si, which is sure to be the higher-selling model in the end.
That’s why even at the New York auto show, where the Civic Si will be seen by the public for the first time, the Type-R continues to take centre stage at the Honda booth.
Look past the Type-R’s bright white paintwork and be-winged body, however, and you’ll get a look at not one but two Si models—one sedan, and one coupe. The hatchback body style is reserved for the Type-R.
The Si twins still look the part: big wings (especially the coupe’s example, which really protrudes from the hatch); blacked out “Wing” grille (because one “wing” isn’t enough, it seems); special 18-inch wheels unique to the Si model; and redesigned front and rear fascias.
It’s nowhere near as in-yer-face as the Type-R, but then, it shouldn’t be. I hesitate to say that although the Si has always been the Civic’s performance model, there’s been a slight understated-ness to it that added to its charm.
A cynic may argue the upgraded 1.5-litre turbo engine is a little understated, too, in that it makes just 205 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, which aren’t huge jumps over the previous naturally aspirated model. You could probably once again say Honda wanted to avoid the Si stepping on the Type-R’s toes. Nevertheless, that’s less torque than the Hyundai Elantra Sport, and less power and torque than the Ford Focus ST.
Inside, more supportive sport seats (they’re heated as standard), a different shift knob for the six-speed manual transmission (your only choice) and red-tinged gauges complete the transition to Si spec. The seats, it should be noted, manage to be supportive without overly squeezing the larger-hipped among us. Honda has managed to turn a nice trick, here.
As has always been the case with Honda, power figures are one thing, but the way their cars handle is another entirely. It will be interesting to see how quickly the latest Civic’s toss-ability through the turns will make people forget the somewhat modest power figures when it goes on sale this summer.