Is the Civic Si\'s quirkiness enough to push it over the line?
Honda Civic Si Cloth, 1.8-litre four-cylinder i-VTEC, five-door: $32,290
At a time when hatches and small-sized cars all conform to the same shape and size, the Honda Civic Si offers a breath of fresh air in the segment with its coupe-like appearance.
Better known in its sporty Civic Type R form, the Civic Si offers the same design as the Type R, with a friendlier suspension package and civilised five-door configuration.
From the outside, the Civic Si’s sleek lines and hidden rear door handles give the car a unique presence on the road. Seventeen-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels adorn the wheel arches, while triangular exhaust tips grace the rear.
The funky package is further emphasised inside the cabin with a driver-oriented cluster that integrates an electronic speedometer, tachometer and trip computer. The steering wheel is comfortable and offers all the vital controls required for the driver. There's even an oddly placed button that allows the driver to switch between mph and km/h. The only gripe I had with the electronic speedometer was that it was hard to see due to the top of the steering wheel.
When fitted with leather seats, the Civic Si comes with heated front seats, which help out tremendously on chilly winter mornings. The aftermarket looking Bluetooth unit is confusing and placed along the A-pillar, making it tricky to use when there is an incoming call while driving.
The cabin is cavernous and offers a great deal of space for a variety of drivers and passengers. There is ample headroom and legroom both in the front and rear to keep most people happy. A commendable boot capacity of 415 litres allows for realistic luggage haulage, while the figure jumps to 1282 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
Standard features include dual-zone climate control, electric windows, cruise control, electric mirrors, trip computer, six-disc in-dash CD player, rear parking sensors, central locking, heated front seats, automatically dimming rear vision mirror, Bluetooth telephone connectivity, automatic headlights and automatic windscreen wipers.
Fit and finish, along with build quality inside the cabin and throughout the car is impeccable. Honda vehicles are known for their excellent build and the Civic Si is no exception.
Around town, the Civic Si is easy to park and offers excellent visibility both out the front and rear. Rear parking sensors help place the vehicle during parallel parking, while electric power steering helps during quick steering direction changes while parking.
Under the bonnet is Honda’s renowned 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC. Producing 103kW and 176Nm of torque, the official fuel consumption is 6.9L/100km for the six-speed manual and 7.2L/100km for the five-speed automatic gearbox. On test, I managed to achieve 7.5L/100km with a fair mix between city and highway driving.
The Civic Si is enjoyable to drive. The direct steering and excellent composure through corners offers reassurance and a hint of sportiness handed down from its Type R sibling. The brakes offer plenty of feel and sharp response.
Honda boasts grade-logic control for the five-speed automatic gearbox. The grade-logic control system holds gears on ascents and downshifts on descents to reduce the load placed on the brakes. The system works well, but the gearbox is often slow to respond to commands, taking seconds to select the right gear when power is required in a hurry.
Overtaking isn’t very confidence inspiring with a load of passengers. The 1.8-litre engine struggles to produce enough torque low in the rev band, resulting in plenty of noise and carry-on when demanding torque for an overtaking manoeuvre.
In terms of safety, the Honda Civic Si is suitably loaded with features to keep the occupants safe during a collision. Although the vehicle hasn’t been tested locally by ANCAP, it has been tested by Euro NCAP in Europe, where it was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating.
The Civic Si comes with driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags and full length curtain airbags. Additionally, the driver’s airbag is a dual-stage airbag, which has the ability to inflate in two stages depending on the position of the driver’s seat. In the event the driver is sitting close to the steering wheel, the airbag won’t inflate with full veracity, further protecting the driver.
Active crash protection includes Vehicle Stability Assist (Honda’s version of the Electronic Stability Program), Traction Control and Electronic Brake Force Distribution.
Priced from $29,990 in six-speed manual cloth trim, the vehicle we tested was priced at $32,290 and featured cloth seats and a five-speed automatic gearbox.
With the recent disaster in Japan, Honda Australia's Diane Dawson confirmed that the UK built Civic Si currently isn't suffering from supply shortage. Also available in the UK and in other segments around the world is a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel Civic Si, when quizzed about whether it would see the light of day in Australia, Ms Dawson told CarAdvice that it has not been made available to the Australian market.
While the Honda Civic Si offers a unique design in its segment, it doesn’t offer an engine good enough to justify the price tag, especially considering the other competitors in the segment. If you’re a Honda tragic, the regular Civic sedan is a cheaper and more impressive package for the price.
[gallery link="file" columns="2"]