The 2006 Civic is such big news at Honda, it's hard to imagine that anything could overshadow the introduction of the all new Coupe, Sedan, and Hybrid models. Yet, when Honda debuted the Civic Si Concept car at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show, it became the focal point of virtually all '06 Civic discussion from that point forward. The Chicago introduction boldly promised that the Civic Si would become one of Honda's hottest sport compacts ever sold in North America.
With a 200hp K-series motor, 6-speed transmission, 8000rpm capability, available high-performance tires (and really good ones), and Limited Slip Differential, what more could the Civic Si enthusiast hope for? How about unparalleled engineering, a shockingly comprehensive list of standard features, AND a sticker price of under $20000?
When the Civic Si's 200hp figure was announced, a lot of people automatically assumed the Si would be getting the same K20A2 that was fitted to the '02-'04 RSX Type S. But to us it didn't make sense for Honda to pull a motor out of retirement for an all-new car, and it turns out we were right. What we got is a new iteration of the K20 which (according to Honda R&D folks) is most closely related to the K20 found in the (JDM) Accord Euro R. For the '06 Si, the motor is labeled K20Z3 and sets itself apart from the K20Z1 ('05-'06 RSX Type S) with its balancer shaft, drive by wire throttle, and electric power steering system (EPS). In keeping with Honda's recent adherance to the latest revision to the SAE's J1349 standard, this motor has been rated at 197hp and 139lb-ft of torque, just shy of the announced 200hp. This compares favorably to the RSX Type S' K20Z1, which is now rated at 201hp and 140lb-ft. The difference in output between the K20Z1 and K20Z3 is said to be mostly related to the additional inertial mass of the K20Z3's balancer shaft, with some of that loss offset by the gain of the EPS.
Apart from the balancer shaft and drive by wire throttle, perhaps the most significant difference in this new K20Z3 is the fabulous soundtrack it generates. The Si design team has spent considerable time tuning the intake and exhaust system for the K20Z3, and the results have paid off, big time. Whether you're standing trackside and hear the car screaming down the front straight at 100mph or if you're fortunate enough to find yourself behind the wheel, words cannot adequately decribe the amazing sound of this new engine. It will be interesting to see how many owners will feel like the car needs an aftermarket intake or exhaust - improving the sound will be a monstrous challenge for the aftermarket.