The all-new Civic Si may look and feel more mature than ever but its engine has been tuned for more high-rpm power and the chassis adopts components from the hard-core Type R. Add in the inherent improvements provided by the 11th-generation Civic and a reasonable price tag – it seems to hit all of the marks on paper. In reality, however, the expectations that come with the Si badge can be fairly formidable.
The latest Si’s styling is much more conservative than in generations past. There is no two-tier gauge cluster or high-mounted shifter, or even a coupe version offered – an understandable omission considering the market’s preference for crossovers. The subtle exterior updates over the lesser Civic will require a double take to confirm it’s the real deal (look for the dual exhaust and gloss-black rear spoiler) while smartly, the interior sees more notable uniqueness with red trim accents, Si-embroidered seats, and red stitching on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.
The Si adopts the latest Civic’s simple long horizontal lines that give it a handsome look and a wide stance while inside, it’s plain to see where your money was spent with a soft-touch dash, deeply padded arm rests, excellent fit and finish, crisp controls, and surface finishes that will stand the abuse of time. The steering wheel’s shape is also impressive for its design that avoids any exposed sharp edges, and its controls are precise and easy to learn with wheel, toggle, and button controls. The seats, however, lack the adjustability needed to negate a post-drive stretch, however, their deep bolsters have no problem holding one in when husting hard and their soft padding helps to minimize the during highway cruising. The 12-speaker Bose audio system is among the most notable upgrades for this generation of Si and it has no problem overpowering the somewhat excessive amount of road noise while the nine-inch infotainment touchscreen is also notable for its improved layout and speed.
While the Si receives several notable interior and exterior upgrades, it’s underneath the skin where the real changes occur.
The last generation Civic took the Si into the turbocharged era and this one continues down that path with several updates to try and bring back the eagerness of chasing the red line. Try as they may, the high-revving engines are a thing of the past as the boosted engines provide significantly more torque and are far more efficient. Indeed, the broad torque plateau – as well as the mechanical limited-slip front differential – allows the Si to smartly dig itself out of a low-speed hairpin while the turbo lag will require a timing adjustment as to when to get on the power. The engine’s preference to hang onto the revs during a shift prevents a satisfying perfectly-timed upshift but the Si now incorporated a rev-match downshift feature to allow one to fully concentrate on the road ahead.
The dampers have been significantly firmed up over the standard Civic, the suspension mounts have been reinforced, the body mounts made stiffer, and the roll-bar size has been increased. Its handling is expectedly tight and body motions are kept in check when tackling the winding canyon roads. The adaptive dampers that were featured in the previous generation have unfortunately been dropped and the highway ride suffers. While it does a commendable job of absorbing large bumps and avoiding sending any sharp impacts through, the ride never feels settled on anything but the freshest-paved roads.
The new Civic ushers in a host of improvements in design, materials, and technology yet the Si has not lost its sporting edge and continues the tradition of catering specifically to driving enthusiasts.