Though the Nürburgring-conquering Civic Type R attracts big headlines, its uncompromising performance bent and expected price tag in the mid-$30,000 range preclude it from being anything more than a low-volume halo car for wealthy, diehard sport compact fans. The 2017 Civic Si on the other hand, with an affordable price of $24,775, is the performance Civic that most people will have a chance to drive and own, which arguably makes it more important than the Type R. To see if Honda has a winner on its hands, we drove the coupe at the Honda Proving Center in the Mojave Desert and on mountain roads near Los Angeles. The first thing we need to address about the Civic Si is the engine. It's a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that is based on the one found in standard turbocharged Civics, but it features a larger turbocharger. The bigger compressor allows the engine to make 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful Civic around until the Type R goes on sale. It certainly feels peppy, with boost coming on quickly, strongly, and smoothly. It accelerates willingly, and feels distinctly faster than regular Civics. The low-down torque also easily surpasses previous high-revving Si models to become the most tractable Si ever. The engine is quite smooth, too, and has a pleasant muted growl when mashing the gas pedal. But for all the power improvements the Si has, on paper it has a major power and torque deficit compared with the more powerful and torquey VW GTI and Ford Focus ST. In reality, that deficit comes through clearly, as the Si never pins you to the seat the way those hot hatches do. This is despite the fact that both of those cars are 145 pounds and 334 pounds heavier than the Si, respectively. It also doesn't feel as eager to rev as the old naturally aspirated engines, nor does it shed RPM quickly, making upshifts less smooth and enjoyable. It's possible that the aftermarket could offer a solution in the near future to address the horsepower deficit. An aftermarket tuner, Hondata, already offers a tune that makes a conventional turbocharged Civic more powerful than an Si, so just imagine what it could do to the Si's engine with its bigger turbo. Connected to the Si's turbo engine is a six-speed manual transmission - the only transmission available - and a helical limited-slip differential. The transmission is very good, though it isn't one for the Honda hall of fame. Throws are very short and require hardly any effort, but it lacks some of the slick mechanical feel of best Honda shifters, such as those in the S2000 and even the 2006-2011 Civic Si. The limited-slip differential did a good job of getting power to the ground, since we never once noticed the inside wheel spinning away power in turns. Some of the credit may be due to the optional summer tires ($200) that were equipped to all of the test cars. …
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|MPG||30 City / 39 Hwy|
|Transmission||2-spd CVT w/OD|
|Power||158 @ 6500 rpm|
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