Auto123 reviews the 2022 Honda Civic Si.
Honda has just launched the new version of its Civic Si, the revised sporty variant debuting a few months prior to the arrival of the next explosive Type R.
For 38 years now, the Japanese brand has been offering the Civic Si around the world while positioning it in the affordable sports car niche. Previous generations have succeeded in keeping the aura around this car alive, but whether the 2022 model manages to do so as well remained to be confirmed.
Why is that? Because on paper, the new Si looks diminished, seeing as how it costs more and offers less power. But those are numbers and numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Let's take a closer look at what it brings to the table.
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Under the hood
The 2022 Honda Civic Si is powered by the same 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the previous generation, and from that engine the car gets 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. We're talking about a 5-hp decrease compared to the outgoing version, which is disappointing in itself. But, the new Si does offer a peak torque some 300 RPM sooner, at 1,800 RPM instead of 2,100 RPM before. The engine also peaks at 6,000 RPM before hitting the limiter at 6,600. This makes the Si both easier to drive at the limit and easier to drive at low revs around town.
Power still goes to the front wheels, while the manual transmission borrowed from the Type R works wonders and increases driving pleasure with quicker, more precise shifts. Good news, the driving experience is once again awesome.
The Si also benefits from the previous Type R's rev-matching system, which works well to smooth out shifts, but can be turned off for those who want a less-assisted driving experience (note, however, that finding the “on/off switch” may require repeated trips to the owner's manual).
While the Si offers one of the best manual transmissions in its segment, the offering includes only one transmission option. Competitors like the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, Kia Forte GT and Hyundai Elantra N-Line all offer a dual-clutch alternative.
The new shocks of the Si also contribute to the overall sporty comfort of this version. They are firm and even uncomfortable on a rough surface, but they offer great stability when pushed on the road and in other conditions that allow for, well, pushing.
The engine in the new Civic Si may be familiar, but it's linked to an all-new exhaust system that dramatically changes the sound of the engine in the cabin. Instead of droning all the way to the redline, the Si's four cylinders now warble a silky-smooth melody that’s music to the ears. At the same time, the new system quiets down in the lower RPM range, giving you adequate volume levels for everyday driving. This exhaust system is pure aural bliss to be consumed without moderation.
So, to put to bed the question of reduced power compered to before, the sum of all the small improvements mentioned above make it seem like this feisty little rocket delivers far more than the 200 hp listed on the spec sheet.
Like all previous generations of the Civic Si, red remains the base colour. Step inside and you'll find red accents on the dashboard, front seats, door panels, shifter and elsewhere. On their own, these red elements work well, resulting in a sporty, yet fairly standard interior. But then with our test car's Blazing Orange Pearl (which is an exclusive Si colour), we found it a bit much. Fortunately, just about every other colour available for the Si should match better.
The seats are manually adjustable, and while generally comfortable, we found them sorely lacking in lateral support. A little lumbar adjustment wouldn't be unwelcome either. Perhaps our complaints in this regard betrays our ages and a young person certainly wouldn't have had anything to complain about with these seats. Let's not forget, however, that the competition offers all-electric, multi-adjustable seats.
Let's stay with the seats and point out a major flaw in our opinion. Why dress the front seats in a sporty black/red fabric and leave the back seat in a morose black? Wouldn't it have been easier to dress all the seats the same? This smacks a little of an attempts at small-scale money-saving.
The rest of the cabin is well-finished, though, and notable standard features include a 12-speaker Bose audio system, 9-inch touchscreen with wired Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto connectivity and an induction charger, plus there's the signature Honda Sensing safety suite. The competition does more or less the same in this regard.
A Civic Si for 40-year-old young-uns
Overall, this Honda is still an affordable sports sedan; it’s just a little less affordable than before. The Si model now starts at $33,150 and you still have to add shipping and delivery costs plus taxes. The Hyundai Elantra N Line starts at $27,799, while the Volkswagen Golf GTI has a base price of $31,495, not to mention the fact that the latter offers 40 more hp.
On the other hand, the Civic Si still retains the same fun-to-drive DNA that makes you want to push it a little further. We loved our week behind the wheel.
Despite two snowstorms, this Si equipped with ContiWinterContact tires braved all the elements with enthusiasm. It was impressive to see it attack highway stretches or narrow, winding roads and remain very stable. Despite its low ground clearance, we never worried about getting stuck or even losing traction. We often started in second gear and the car responded exactly as we wanted it to.
We had driven the Civic Sport Touring hatchback with the manual transmission a few weeks earlier and honestly, the performances of the two cars have precious little in common. As much as the Sport hatchback was fun to use and the transmission associated with its engine a joy to use, the Si was a joy to use with almost every gear change. Only 20 horsepower separate these two models, but the separation overall is far greater than that.
The fact remains that this Civic Si is a city sports car and we'll leave the Type R to track enthusiasts! If you're looking for a fun car with a manual transmission, don't leave the Si off your short list. Especially, test drive it before making any decision.
Overall interior finish
We like less
Lack of support from front seats
Heating and heated seats a bit weak at -20°C
No wireless Apple CarPlay
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Hyundai Elantra N
Volkswagen Jetta GLI