LANDOVER, Maryland—The Civic Si: the pinnacle of all Civics. This Civic, one does not buy because it is a Civic, but because it is an Si. Holding the keys in one hand and rubbing one's chin with the other while facing the car, the new owner does not think that they've made an economical, sensible choice. No. The Si is for adrenaline junkies that thrive and live by a driving code that is slowly dying: to drive and not be driven.
This mindset came to life when I first walked towards the car on test-day at FedEX Field. Here, the Si was patiently waiting for me to take it through a coned slalom course, timed, and with a reward for the person with the fastest time of the day.
As the first to take part in this portion of the event, I was to clear the wet-in-spots track and blaze a trail, which I did. I don't mean to brag but I turned out to be the quickest around the cones that day. I'm not going to take all the credit though, the 2012 Civic Si helped out a little.
If you've read my review on the 2012 Civic (do it!), you'll note that I found the new car to generate an impressive amount of front-end grip. I know that this is what made it all possible. As stated, the track was wet in certain areas, and coming in slow into corners was crucial in order to come out fast. Quickly leaving an apex behind was managed brilliantly by the torque-sensitive helical limited-slip differential and the stability and traction control. I know, I know, we were instructed to leave the nannies on for the laps...
Irregardless, the brakes performed flawlessly, allowing me to carry as much speed for as long as possible up to a corner. The large and grippy P215/45R17 Michelin Pilot tires responded very well to steering inputs; never did I loose track of where the lead wheels were going even when I charged at a turn with far too much vim.
As the entire course was a second-gear only time attack, I was only able to experience swells of power in the 5,000- to 7,000-rpm range. To find out more about the “new” 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, I took an Si out for a short romp in the Washington Redskins playground's shadow.
Here, I met with a K24Z3 that is not as eager to climb to the stratosphere as is the 197-hp K20Z3 it replaces. Revs build at a slower pace, but the extra 31 lb-ft (22% gain) of torque are immediately noticeable. Max torque arrives at 4,400 rpm, whereas the K20 needed a full 1,700 extra rpm to reach its maximum potential of 139 lb-ft. Jury's out on what the Si lover prefers but time will tell...
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