Honda has trickled out the launch of the 10th generation Civic in multiple stages, beginning with the 2016 Civic Sedan launching nearly 2 years ago, followed roughly 6 months later by the coupe, with the hatchback arriving in the Fall of 2016, and the penultimate installment coming in the form of the Si just this month. Next month comes the final piece of the 5-part sequence in the form of the mighty 306hp Civic Type R.
To introduce the 8th Civic Si (the Si version first debuted with the 3rd generation Civic body style, in 1985), Honda hosted us along with several dozen other journalists in the Mojave Desert, where we were able to sample the latest iteration of Honda's "Sports Injection" Civic coupe and sedan on road and track.
The formula for the Civic Si has remained fairly constant over the years. In general, the car balances a good level of feature content with value and a smattering of performance upgrades. The 2017 Civic Si starts with the superb 10th generation Civic chassis which has propelled the sedan to numerous awards since its introduction. A challenge for this iteration of the Si is that the standard Civic is already quite a good performer with its 174hp, 1.5L turbocharged engine, and the 6-speed 180hp Civic Sport Hatchback could itself practically pass as an "Si", save for its relatively spartan feature set.
Ever since Honda announced the 10th generation Civic models and confirmed that the Si would return, there have been numerous rumors about the potential powertrain. On the one hand, there were hints that the Si would receive a version of the turbocharged 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. Then there were some rumors that it would actually get a detuned version of the 2.0L turbocharged K20C1 engine that's found in the upcoming Civic Type R. This was a very tantalizing thought. But then sometime in the past year or so we started hearing that it would in fact be based upon the 1.5L engine, and later on this was essentially confirmed. This created a lot of heartburn amongst Civic enthusiasts, as many were hoping that this version of the Si would be well positioned to take on the GTI, WRX, Focus ST – all of which have at least 2.0L turbocharged engines.
Alas, the Si has a 205hp, 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, featuring variable cam timing (VTC) and direct injection. Horsepower peaks at 5700 rpm and the little engine generates at least 192lb-ft from 2100-5100 rpm. It is coupled to a slick 6-speed transmission which features the same exact ratios as those found in the lower Civic Turbo trim levels with the 6MT. The shifter mechanism itself has been improved compared to the lower Civic trims, with more rigid bracket mounts and a refined linkage and selector mechanism which improves precision and reduces stroke by 10 percent.
The engine in the Civic Si is fundamentally identical to the unit found in the 2017 Honda CR-V, which itself is very similar to the 1.5L Turbo engine found in the standard Civic EX-T. The key differences lie in the compression ratio and the trim of the turbocharger. The Si and CR-V share the same 10.3:1 compression ratio, which is down from 10.6:1 in the EX-T. This reduced compression ratio (along with the recommended premium fuel), permits the Si's turbocharger to deliver a maximum of 20.3 psi of boost, compared to 18.5 psi in the CR-V and 16.5 psi in the Civic EX-T. The turbocharger in the CR-V and the Civic Si uses a 9-blade turbine impeller, while the other Civic models use an 11-blade impeller design. These differences, along with tuning for premium unleaded gasoline, results in an improvement of 31hp and 25lb-ft of torque over the standard Civic EX-T's engine.
On the chassis side, engineers have approached the development of the Si in the same manner as they always have, PLUS they have added active dampers, which is pretty remarkable in the Civic Si's price range. Typically, the Si gets stiffer springs and dampers, stiffer swaybars front and rear, and stickier upsized tires, and that's exactly the prescription that was filled for the 2017 Civic Si. And since the introduction of the 8th generation Civic Si, they've thrown a Limited-Slip Differential (LSD) into the equation as well, and thankfully, the latest Si continues with this tradition.
Inside the Si, it is equipped much like an EX-T would be equipped, except with a more potent 450-watt, 10-speaker audio system and sportier seats with deeper bolstering. The only available interior color is black, and that means pretty much everything is black apart from the red Si logos stitched into the front seatbacks. The upholstery is an all fabric affair and the front seats are heated. It sure would be nice to see the return of some Alcantara or similar faux-suede to the Si, but surely it weighs upon the cost equation. For the most part the instrument panel is standard Civic issue, but the 7-inch TFT LCD Driver Information Interface (DII) has new red Si-themed graphics with a package of performance display options including a throttle/brake meter, boost gauge, a G-meter, a rev indicator (shift light), and a lap time counter (stopwatch function). Another key differentiator of the Si is the Sport button located in the center console. This toggles between "normal" and "sport" drive modes, impacting the tuning of the steering assist, throttle response, and damper response.
Outside of the Si, the styling touches are similar to the Civic Sport Hatchback, which means that it has blacked out grille elements and some mild aero bits. Oh, and just like the Sport, the Si has the same (very large) faux vents in the front and rear bumpers. 18x8" split 5-spoke wheels are standard on the Si, and they feature 235/40-R18 all-season tires, unless you tick the box for the summer tire option, which costs an additional $200, but results in the fitment of some nice and sticky Goodyear Eagle F1s. The Si comes standard with a tire repair kit, but a space saver temporary spare is available from the dealership. Eliminating the spare helps the Si match the EX-T in terms of curb weight. The Si features a center mounted exhaust outlet, similar to the Sport Hatchback, but instead of dual circular tips, the dual exhaust outlets feed into a single centrally-mounted hexagonal finisher.
Continue on to the next page to read our driving impressions.