Entering its third model year in the US, the European-bred Civic Si has gone virtually unnoticed by the enthusiast community. This is in stark contrast to the coupe-based model that preceded it. Despite the fact it was only sold for two model years ('99 and '00), it quickly achieved nearly iconic status in the sport compact scene. With the introduction of the seventh generation Civic platform for model year 2001, the Si was conspicuously absent from the lineup until the 2002 model year. During its hiatus there were plenty of rumors surrounding the car's return. Accompanying the rumors was a fair amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding the Si's return.
As it turns out, once the rumors were replaced with facts, it didn't take long for that excitement and anticipation to degenerate into to an unfortunate sense of general disappointment. While a number of factors could be blamed for this atmosphere, the Civic Si's loudest detractors seem to focus most on its exterior styling and general bang-for-the-buck, or lack thereof. Furthermore, it doesn't help knowing there's a sizzling 215ps Type R version of the Civic ripping around the streets and circuits of Japan. I've had the great pleasure of driving a Japanese Spec. Civic Type R, and I can attest to the fact that we are truly missing out on an amazing car.
If there's an upside to this controversy, it's that the Si's slow sales pace has resulted in some ridiculously low transaction prices for brand new Si's. If you're looking for a great value on a supremely refined and very capable sport compact car, the Civic Si is definitely worthy of your consideration. On the other hand, if you're a Honda product planner, you might be scratching your head and wondering what went wrong. By bringing over the Euro-Civic hatchback (which also serves as the basis of the brilliant Civic Type R), Honda has delivered one of the most sophisticated offerings in the segment. In the Si's case it seems the knowledgeable buying public is focusing more on all the great stuff we didn't get (mostly found on the Type R) vs. the really good stuff we did get.
Before we go any further down that path, we should recall that the scope of this article is not to discuss the wherefors and whynots of the Si's current situation, but rather to relate our experience with the new Honda Factory Performance option available for buyers of the '04 Civic Si. With that in mind, let's proceed.