As we arrived at our lunch destination for the all-new Honda Odyssey launch that CarAdvice attended on Friday, a small, sleek hatch-shape sat tucked in one corner of the large function room veiled in a soft satin cover.
Through lunch my fellow motoring writers and I debated what was underneath, awaiting our prying gaze. Was it a new Type-R, was it a Civic Hybrid hatch, or could it be the long awaited five-door Civic?
The latter soon proved to be the case.
With coupe styling, but hatch practicality, the five-door Civic Si is certainly a good look, having retained much of the Type-R's aggressively futuristic themes.
Hidden rear door handles mask the rear doors completely from a distance, especially when viewed from a front-side angle (as shown above).
Distinctively different, the Civic Si features many of the same stylistic traits as seen in the Type-R including its unique ‘face’ with the headlamps blending seamlessly with a central glazed panel; triangular front fog lamps, a design motif that is repeated by the integrated exhaust tailpipes positioned at either side of the rear bumper; the aforementioned ‘concealed’ rear door handles; and tailgate glass that is split horizontally by a rear spoiler.
At 4270mm long, 1765mm wide and 1460mm tall, the Civic Si is proportionally not a great deal bigger than its three-door sibling, but clever packaging has allowed the available space to be used quite wisely.
Honda cites issues of difference between the Australian Design Rules and EU regulations as the main reason in delaying this premium model hatch to Australian shores with differences such as windscreen thickness, front three-quarter impact regulations, child seat attach point locations and other slight specification differences as the cause.
It's a sticking point in many instances for imported cars and indeed something Honda plans to work on with government agencies to make more globally uniform.
Back to the car in question though we draw focus on a centrally-mounted 50 litre fuel tank beneath the floor that permits useful flat rear footing for rear seat passengers while allowing at the same time increased cargo space of 415 litres (seats up), which can be expanded to 1282 litres via 60:40 split fold rear seats.
Entry and egress is surprisingly easy for a smaller hatch meaning as a five-door, the practicality availed is a step-up from the more sporty three-door model. Unfortunately however rear passenger headroom is a little tight at 956mm.
Features include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, front fog lamps, rear park assist, 'magic-fold' seats (as seen in Honda's Jazz models), tyre deflation monitors, heated front seats, remote keyless entry with alarm, power windows and mirrors, rain sensing wipers, auto headlamps, cruise control, trip computer, a single CD tuner and push button start.
The Civic Si is powered by a 1.8-litre, i-VTEC, SOHC, four-cylinder petrol engine developing 103kW at 6300rom and 174Nm at 4300rpm via either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
Honda claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.6 seconds with fuel economy figures of 6.9 litres per 100km (ADR combined) for the manual variant and 7.2 litres per 100km (ADR combined) for the automatic.
With a five-star ANCAP rating the Civic Si includes such safety features as dual front, side and curtain airbags; ABS with EBA and EBD; and ESP with Traction Control - all as standard.
The bad news is however that the Civic Si is of limited availability with supply restricted to 420 units.
Pricing starts at $38,990 (RRP) for the six-speed manual and $41,290 (RRP) for the five-speed automatic.
Metallic paint is an additional $395 with Civic Si available in four colours: Milano Red, Galaxy Grey (M), Alabaster Silver (M) and Crystal Black (M).
Expect a full review from the CarAdvice team within the next few weeks.
To arrange a test drive of the new Honda Civic Si, click here.