2009 Honda Civic Si Review & Road Test
By Matt Brogan Pics Paul Maric
The eighth-generation Honda Civic caused a flurry of interest upon its European debut back in 2006, but here in Australia, we had until now been restricted to the scorching Type-R model, and its three door configuration, if the radically shaped hatch so happened to appeal to our buying desires.
Now it seems we have a choice, albeit for a short time only, with the release of Honda's luxuriously appointed, limited edition Civic Si (Sports Injected) five-door model giving potential buyers a chance to purchase one of the most iconic shaped Civic's since the nameplate first appeared back in 1972.
As looks go I can see how the futuristic styling of the Civic Si might polarise an audience, but I just so happen to be a fan for the reason that, apart from the looks appealing to me, I find it refreshing that a car's design can challenge convention and pull it off, two things that don't go hand-in-hand too often.
Inside too the layout and design is rather intelligent, but perhaps this becomes more evident in terms of purpose during night driving with the spilt-level dashboard highlighting a move away from the more traditional single tier approach.
This works not only to serve as an interesting visual cue, but is also rather practical with eye travel reduced when glancing down to read the speedo, thus decreasing the amount of time your eyes spend off the road.
You'll also find yourself surrounded by a decor that is modern, crisp and a talking point if nothing else, again emphasising the driver orientated "cockpit" feel of the cabin. Layout of all controls, switch gear and ancillaries are likewise pointed at the hot seat which all serves to add to an enjoyable feel of being at one with the car - just the way it should be.
Don't think for a moment that means the Civic Si is a bare bones, sports orientated hatch aimed purely at the enthusiast for, unlike it's Type-R sibling, this hatch is gloriously quiet, surprisingly comfortable and considerably well equipped offering a decent level of kit.
And, in case you're wondering, that kit includes dual-zone climate control, heated (front only) leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers, automatic halogen headlamps, power windows and heated power mirrors, auto dimming rear view mirror, rear parking sensors, remote central locking with push button starter, alarm and single CD tuner with steering wheel mounted remote controls and auxiliary plug in.
It's also roomier than first impressions would have you believe with the clever design accommodating generous headroom front and rear (1006mm front/956mm rear) as well as sufficient leg room for even the most lanky rear seat passenger (1077mm front/865mm rear).
Cargo space hasn't been forgotten either with Civic Si offering a spacious 415 litre boot (seats up) that can be expanded to more than three times that amount with the 60:40 split fold seats flipped forward, offering 1282 litres.
Under the bonnet Civic Si shares the same 103kW/174Nm 1.8-litre, SOHC,four-cylinder offering in Civic VTi and VTi-L sedan. Although performance is adequate at 8.6 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, it's not quite what one would expect from a car that gives such a visual impression of speed.
Personally I feel that given this car's upper-shelf alignment, it should have at least been endowed with the 114kW/188Nm 2.0-litre unit as found in Civic Sport. On the bright side, Civic Si will quite consistently return fuel economy figures of 7.2 litres per 100km, exactly as claimed in the brochure!
If fuel economy just so happens to be your thing, a series of green LEDs sit just to the right of the speedometer to let you know just how economic your driving really is.
Handling is exceptional, a surprise given the torsion beam rear end (strut front), and remains grippy and well settled over even the harshest mid corner lumps and bumps while, at the same time, being pliant enough to maintain good ride quality.
Similarly the electric power steering is very sharp, well weighted and provides just the right amount of feedback from the 17-inch alloy wheels to again bolster that feeling of being at one with the car we spoke of earlier.
Safety comes courtesy of six airbags (front, side and full-length curtain) and the usual electronic nannies with Civic Si featuring brawny brakes coupled to ABS, EBA, EBD; Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control; and a Tyre Deflation Monitor to afford it a five-star EuroNCAP rating.
For all it's positives the Civic Si does have a couple of obvious downsides. One is rather small and trivial in the scheme of things, the lack of rear washer/wiper.
The other, the price tag, is simply too big to ignore. At $41,290* the British built Civic Si sits only $700 below its Type-R rival, and although yours may be one of only 420 built, it's still a hefty ticket on what's essentially just a good looking, well built and well equipped five-door hatch.
*Pricing shown is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.
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