Legions of enthusiasts have been born and raised on Honda’s Civic Si, and now, there’s a new model to fuel another generation of speed-obsessed drivers. For 2017, Honda’s sport compact arrives wearing forced induction for the first time, and that’s a big deal. This change to turbo power is likely to be viewed as philosophical, sea-change shift by Si faithful, one eagerly welcomed by many and shunned by a few as the automotive equivalent of Bob Dylan going electric in 1965.
Based on Honda’s excellent new Civic and powered by a 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo four, the 2017 Si will offer 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. Those are somewhat disappointing figures for a new entry in this class, but at least peak power comes on at 5,700 RPM (1,200 revs earlier than than in the outgoing Si), and the higher torque peak (+18 pound-feet) comes in at 2,100 RPM and sticks around to 5,000 RPM. Honda’s Civic Si has long been known for amusing drivers with its capabilities for sky-high revs, so it will be interesting to see how the greatly the increased low-end torque changes the car’s driving character.
As before, shifting duties will fall to a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, which should go a long way toward slaking self-anointed driving purists.
If those power figures strike as somewhat disappointing, enthusiasts’ smiles might perk up a bit at word of a variable-ratio electric power steering setup and adaptive dampers, both of which are new features. Honda also points the inclusion of a helical-type limited-slip differential, more rigid chassis and bigger front brakes (12.3 inches) as other key performance upgrades.
In truth, the Civic Si has always been less about straight-line performance and more about handling, and it’s encouraging to hear word of fatter 235/40 R18 tires (summer tires are optional), stiffer springs and bigger anti-roll bars (30 percent up front, 60 percent out back), unique solid bushings and front upper control arms swiped from the Civic Type R. And as hinted at by the inclusion of adaptive dampers, the Civic Si will now get a two-mode drive selector, with Normal and Sport settings, which adjusts not only the damping, but also steering and throttle responses.
Look-faster exterior changes include a revised front fascia with larger intakes, two-tone 18-inch alloys and a swanky chrome exhaust finisher. The Coupe model also gets a massive rear wing.
Honda Civic Si interiors have always been known for their excellent seats, so hopefully the Ontario-built 2017 model’s red-stitched chairs are as supportive and comfortable as they look. Other Si-typical furnishings include aluminum pedals, an aluminum and leather shift knob, and matching red stitching on the doors, steering wheel and shifter boot.
Standard convenience features include a 7-inch touchscreen audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, front seat heaters and remote engine start (a rarity on manual-transmission models).
Exact pricing hasn’t been released yet, but both the Civic Si Sedan and Coupe models are promised to have an MSRP “in the mid-$20,000 range” when they go on sale in May. That suggests it’ll be right back in the thick of the compact sports segment, up against talented cars like the Volkswagen GTI ($25,595), Ford Focus ST ($24,775), Subaru WRX ($26,695) and even Hyundai’s upstart Elantra Sport ($21,650).