Honda Civic Si Sedan Review

Lyn Vogel
by Lyn Vogel

Honda salesman? More like “order taker.” The new Civic Si sedan is guaranteed to sell itself, no “product specialist” needed. After all, the stock version is already a hit. Honda can legitimately claim they’re moving them by the boatload– even if they’re assembled on Ohio acreage. And Si coupes have always done well– even when they haven’t been well done. So, offering a four door variant with a sprinkle of go-faster and look-sharper for a few more bucks is a no-brainer. Say, is that a commission check in your pocket or are you just happy you’re not selling Isuzus?

It’s easy to see why Ma and Pa America have taken to the four-door Honda Civic: it’s easy on the eyes. Well, except for the slightly revised front end, which looks like nothing so much as a Saturn Ion whittled out of a chunk of Vermont cheddar and left to bake in Death Valley. The Si Sedan is further differentiated by the inclusion of the same 17” wheels appearing on the Si Coupe (how economical!), a rear wing (how imaginative!) and some stickers on the rear doors (how economical and imaginative!). Still, better under than over-stated– especially when even the loss-leader generic-cigarette version comes with a sunroof. Oh wait, that’s the windshield.

Comfortalize yourself in the forward chairs– dressed for duty in basic black cloth with red stitching on bolstered cushions– and don’t be surprised if you smile. They’re ass-tastic! You also get Si-specific red instrument lighting and a delicate aluminum shift switch; not much visual jingle for your jangle. You’re still gazing over a foosball table-sized expanse of dashboard with the dreaded dual-zone instrument panel. With the central tach resembling the first-generation Prelude’s, and a secondary HUD-ish binnacle, this seemingly frivolous design feature actually works– if you can get past the idea of a car that thinks its part of NORAD.

Place an amorous horse in the vicinity of a frisky donkey and a short time later you’ll end up with a mule. Think of the Civic Si four-door as the similarly sired offspring of its stock and modified stablemates. Only the Si sedan’s not sterile at birth. For one thing, you get the Si’s 197-thoroughbred powerplant. The 2.0-liter DOHC four redlines at eight-grand, peak power arrives at 7800 rpm, and max torque (139ft.-lbs.) shows up at 6200 rpm. In other words, Honda’s i-VTEC technology is hard at work, trying like crazy to provide oomph down low and whee up high.

Except it doesn’t. The Si’s mill sounds fine, thanks to a growly though thankfully restrained exhaust. But for a car that weighs only 60 lbs more than its two-door sibling, the Si sedan should run a lot harder than it does. Or at least feel as if it’s running harder than it is. Despite a not-entirely-slow zero to sixty time of 8.4 seconds, the four-door seems distinctly anemic.

Credit the hard workers across the hall in the Dept. of Chassis Magic. The Si loves the twisties like a fat kid loves cake. Honda’s boffins installed a larger front stabilizer bar, tweaked the dampers and dropped in a limited slip dif. It’s all to great effect; the Si sedan retains day-to-day composure which, considering the fact that it’s a performance variant, is a genuine bonus. At the same time, the car combines tenacious grip with superb chassis control, allowing fully-committed drivers a rare opportunity to explore the nexus of high G’s and understeer scrub off.

The electrically-assisted steering is a delight, if a touch over-boosted, offering tremendous tactility and reassurance. Speaking of which, 11.8-inch ventilated front and 10.2-inch solid rear discs manage braking duties like Scotty Bowman handled the Montreal Canadiens. And if the Honda S2000’s gear change is the best ‘box on the planet (it is), the Si sedan’s is number two. It’s the low-fat Skippy peanut butter of gearboxes: light, smooth, and tasty.

The main difference between the Si sedan and Si coupe? Nothing much– save the extra portals and a couple of grand (the Si sells for about $20k). In fact, the Si sedan’s practicality is practically inescapable. Keeping the rev needle in the penthouse will cost you at the pump, but not much (23 / 32 mpg). There’s a big ass boot and enough room for four genuine adults. Honda reliability, reasonable resale, and remind me again who can compete at this price point ($21k)? VW GLI? No thanks. Still…

Honda is known for its engines. They’ve given the Si Sedan everything an enthusiast could want but a totally stonking powerplant. At the end of the day, you’re left like a greedy little girl penning a letter to Santa for a corral full of ponies. Will that stop Honda from selling the frugal, fine-handling, sensibly priced Si sedan all day long? Nope. Never mind then.

Lyn Vogel
Lyn Vogel

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  • Littleredsi Littleredsi on Dec 02, 2008

    I've owned this car for a little over a year now. I can tell you that I have not once regretted making the purchase. Yes, it has little torque below the 5k mark, but wind it up on an open road and start smashing gears at 8k and it really does become a different animal. I also question the claimed 8.4 sec 0-60, as I have tracked the car with a 6.9 sec 0-60 time myself and I am no pro. The interior is fairly straight forward, but you will be hard pressed to find another car in this price range that has the fit and finsh detail Honda has managed to acheive. As for the looks yes it was an odd duck to look at for awhile but it really does grow on you. In closing where else can you get a 4 dr. sedan with top safety crash ratings, a fun loving high reving engine, good looks and interior treatments, and enough room for your small family, all for under 22K? Enough said.

  • Shakedown Shakedown on Jul 08, 2010

    I'm late to the game, but I'm a used-car kind of guy, so this page wasn't relevant to me until now. For the MazdaSpeed3 trumpeters, may I suggest you invest some research into your livelihood? It has performed significantly worse in crash testing than the civic. IIHS Mazda test: Measures taken from the dummy indicate that serious skull fracture and/or brain injuries plus rib fractures and/or internal organ injuries would be likely in a crash of this severity. A fracture of the pelvis also would be possible. IIHS Honda test: Measures taken from the dummy indicate that rib fractures would be possible in a crash of this severity. The risk of significant injuries to other body regions is low. NHSTA testing (unfortunately, direct links are not available due to poor website design): Lower numbers are better for all of the following: Mazda frontal: Head Injury - 499 Chest decel - 45 Femur load - 501/917 Honda frontal: Head injury - 290 Chest decel - 44 Femur load - 548/63 Mazda side: Head injury - 544 Thoracic Trauma - 91 Pelvis decel - 75 Honda side: Head injury - 237 Thoracic Trauma - 58 Pelvis decel - 80 Now, the only knock I hear about the civic is power and lack of hatch. Every car has downsides and if that's all anybody can come up with for the civic, then this sounds fantastic. Power is a lot easier to adjust with the after-market than ergonomics or an unsorted chassis. So there's great safety, ergonomics, steering feel, dynamics, and the much-appreciated standard LSD. I say much appreciated because: 1) open-diff FWD cars are maddeningly annoying in the rain and when trying to make a right turn onto a main street from a stop. 2) standard-issue makes it invaluable in the used-car market where the majority wouldn't choose it if it were an option. Now, for the RWD trumpeters: why have none of you suggested better buys at this price-point? Perhaps because none exist?

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.