Automotive

2017 Honda Civic Si – Bye bye screaming and hello handling

by: Sandeep Gill

If you ever had the pleasure of driving an earlier model Honda Civic Si, any variant with the VTEC, you will remember how that engine screamed to an 8,000 rpm redline.  It’s what defined the Civic Si.  The Honda Civic Si represented freedom to a generation of Canadian youth.  The British had the VW GTI, the French had the Citroen and we had the Honda Civic, it’s no surprise the Civic has been Canada’s number one selling car for 17 years running.

The latest iteration of the Civic Si carries on this torch, but, changes the recipe.  The Si represents a stepping stone for the Civic lineup.  It ups the ante from Civic Sport, providing more aggressive styling, wheels and tires and a bit more oomph, but, stops shy of the overly ostentatious Type R.  Historically, the Honda Civic has always been the type of car that anyone could get behind the wheel of and feel comfortable.  Controls were always easy to find, the clutch feel was light and the shifts felt like the shift gate was lined with silk, clean, precise and rewarding.  The Si was the bad boy of the line, bringing a fun factor to the game, largely achieved by an incredible screaming motor.

Enter the 2017 Si, on paper and from a physical standpoint the Si looks like it will fill its predecessor’s shoes nicely.  It produces 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque.  That’s 25 more hp and 15 more lb-ft of torque over the Sport version.  Si also trumps the Sport with features like a trick limited slip differential, adjustable dampers, sunroof, dual zone climate control, well bolstered and comfortable sport seats and comes in coupe and 4-door variations.  In translation though, the new Si is different.  It feels more refined, rewarding a driver with a beautiful chassis and precise aggressive handling.  Honda technicians must have spent countless hours ensuring the driving manners of the Si were spot on.  Unlike previous generations, the new Si is a fun driver’s car.  It remains flat in corners with minimal body roll, this is only improved with the adjustable dampers.  The limited slip differential ensures that hard exits during corners are met with ample traction assisted with Honda’s own torque vectoring system.  However, some may find the Si’s more tuned driving manner slightly harsh and tightly sprung.

But, throughout this onrush of fun there’s something missing, oh yes, the screaming 4.  What we have in replacement is a capable turbo, producing low end grunt and everyday usable power, unlike previous generations.  But, oh how we miss that screaming 8000 rpm redline; what drew previous Si owners to the model may be missed, but, can I say, be forgiven.  The Si presents an all-round package at an exceptional price point, an increase in sophistication, a young businessman’s option and less a boy racer choice.  What it will require for those who know is a change in expectation, but, a welcome one.

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