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2006 Honda Civic Si Road Test

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Justin Pritchard
This Time it's Terminal.

(Photo: Justin Pritchard,
Assuming you fell in with hot little rides 8 to 12 ago such as the Tiburon, 240SX, Celica, Escort ZX2, MX-3 and the like, and your preference for a racy little machine remains, you'll find that the performance gods are pleased and have smiled upon the compact performance industry. The players keep getting more powerful, grippy and amusing. Today, 200 horsepower is a sort of standard for smallish cars around the thirty-thousand dollar mark that provide their owners with excitement and motoring pleasure that doesn't break the bank.

For over a decade, Hondas Si designation has promised above average performance, power, and fun for selected models. The badge is a hero to the tuning crowd: a performance model that is fun, economical and affordable used as a daily driver for some, and a "good start" for the others who will spend thousands making theirs run circles around more expensive machines at track day.

The new Si is the latest incarnation of a vehicle that arguably started a trend which is still in full swing. Once other carmakers had caught on to the potential of offering a slightly warmed performance model from the factory, they all started slapping on bigger engines, wings, badges and bling faster than you could say "Pimp My Ride". To make a very long story short, Honda had lost a good portion of its advantage. The two previous generation models were powered by 1.6- and 1.7-liter engines that generated 127 horsepower--significantly less than most of its ringmates. Horsepower war aside, much of the Si's competition went the way of the Dodo bird.

(Photo: Justin Pritchard,
It's a different ball game now. Everything about the new Si instantly communicates aggression above and beyond the outgoing models. The styling is befitting of a Japanese anime superhero--clean, sharp and cartoonish. The lines are simple and elegant, collected into a point of focus about the front of the hood which slightly overhangs the inner edges of the low profile headlamps and tall bumper.

From the exhaust tip to the big 17" wheels, to the trunk mounted spoiler that's visible from orbit, the entire package is more purposeful--as though finally the Si has matured, found its place in life and is no longer sitting on the fence between a sporty econo-coupe and a performance car. It's finally made up its mind: it's here, and this time it's out for blood.

Hop in and you'll be treated to some very accommodating seats that have firm, almost solid bolsters surrounding soft and comfortable padded surfaces. The Si badge is embroidered onto each one--just in case you miss the one on the grille, the trunk, or in the center of the tachometer. There is storage space in abundance, so much that you might wind up loosing track of where you've kept everything. Power outlets are included, and the stereo is about the best I can think of in this price range, with MP3 compatibility and a subwoofer in back to really bring the noise.

(Photo: Justin Pritchard,
Maybe I missed the press release, but when did Honda decide to start pushing the envelope with interior styling? The shape is futuristic and busy without being overcooked. All of the buttons, dials, knobs and controls operate with a great degree of accuracy and as expected, the build quality is hard to beat. Everything inside, down to the steering wheel is just slightly unconventional--including the instrument cluster. The cause of much controversy, it becomes instantly adored or hated by drivers and fans alike.
Justin Pritchard
Justin Pritchard
Automotive expert