May 2, 2011

Honda Civic Si

           Some would argue that none of this is sensible...  We don’t care what they think.  After our S4 test we decided on a more economical test.  The Honda Civic for years has been known as a reliable and sensible investment.  Every Man’s, like most men (not always sensible), tested the 2011 Civic Si sedan. It could hold two child/infant cars seats in back if it needed to!  When testing cars, we always look for the manual transmissions to really understand how a car handles, even though they are starting to become a thing of the past.  Manuals main selling point was improved gas mileage, but some automatics are beginning to get better mileage.  No matter what, if you really want to know how it drives, you need a stick!    That didn’t sound right…

Interior:
Two-tiered instrument panel and steering wheel controls

The interior of the Si was comfortable for a small car.  The first thing we noticed was the suede accents all over the seats and doors.  The suede was unnecessary.  Just go with some regular leather or vinyl and let’s move on.  The dash is huge.  Seriously, I think I could almost lay out a sleeping bag and curl up it’s so large and mostly flat.  This didn’t inhibit the driving, but it did bother our eyes when we first got in.  The gauges are red-backed (not really a fan) and the instrument panel is two-tiered with a digital speedo up top with the fuel indicator and engine temp to the sides, and the tachometer plus all other indicator lights down below.  The digital speedo was nice, but I found my eye staying there too often to make sure I was going exactly as fast as allowed.  The new 2012 models also have an information center to the right of the digital speedo for radio, power usage, and other info.  Overall the interior didn’t thrill us, but at the same time like most Honda’s it wasn’t anything that detracted from the appeal of the car.

Exterior:
With the newly introduced Elantra’s and Sonata’s, the Civic now shares a number of external styling features.  If you look at the Si too long, you really will start to see the new Hyundai’s coming out.  The style lines down the side of the Civic are also apparent on the Elantra.  Nothing that really takes away from the Si, but if you’re looking for that original looking ride, this isn’t it…  The exhaust doesn’t sound very different from the standard version of the Civic.  Nothing to take note of; just sounds like an angry rodent.  The spoiler is still unique looking with its knife edge design.  Again, nothing here that causes us to run away and vomit, but nothing that makes us fight to drive this car.
Knife-edge spoiler

Performance:
The Si has a 1.998L I-4 engine that Honda advertises as a 2.0L producing 197 horsepower.  The 2012 model has a 2.354 L engine that produces 4 more horsepower.  The gear shift was functional and felt firm.  Reverse is all the way to the right, but without the depression and beep to let you know you’re in reverse; you have to check twice to be sure.  Maybe it’s 6th gear or maybe reverse.  The gas tank is 13.2 gallons which won’t kill you at the pump, but Honda states that premium is required, which will suck your wallet dry with gas close to $4 a gallon for unleaded.  The 2011 averages 21 city/29 hwy/ 24 combined with the 2012 getting 22 city/31 hwy/ 25 combined with the slightly bigger engine. 
                We don’t think the Si we drove liked us very much.  The car didn’t seem up to the task.  Every acceleration felt like I was forcing the Si through chores that it didn’t want to do.  It was quick, but won’t break any land speed records or even make any take notice.  If anything, they might take notice of the angry little car that the middle-aged guy was torturing.   Each shift felt like we were rapping too many rpm’s, even if the red line is 7,000.  In 6th at 70mph the tach was reading 3,000 rpm’s with very little left to accelerate to pass at highway speeds.  The 0-60 test was measured at 7.1 seconds (Edmunds.com) and felt that fast.  We weren’t shocked by its time, but weren’t impressed either, just content.  In the corners the Si handled itself well.  We even flipped a hard U-turn and felt the front wheels haul us through the turn with ease.  It was fun with a short wheel base to crank it over hard and accelerate out of it.  There wasn’t very much torque-steering, where the power applied to the front tires pulls the steering wheel a specific way.

Summary:
                We liked the Si for the price ($23,155).  The Si we drove was pretty standard.  The 6-speed transmission was fair, but not great.  Buying premium gas might cause us to avoid the Si for now, but at least the base price is far lower than any other cars that might require premium.  We weren’t overjoyed with the Si, but if we’re on a tight budget (Who isn’t?!?!) then we would give this car a lot of our consideration.

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