By on June 5, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Coupe Si – Image: Honda

Not everyone was blown away by the new Honda Civic Si’s 205 horsepower, especially after a year of rumors suggesting output could fall in the 220-hp range. While the hotter (but not hottest) version of Honda’s 10th-generation Civic possesses the same horsepower rating as its predecessor, albeit with significantly less displacement, many Big H aficionados had hoped for more.

Nah, you don’t want that, Honda says. The Si’s massaged 1.5-liter turbo does offer increased torque (192 lb-ft) compared to the previous 2.4-liter model, but the automaker claims the addition of more ponies would have harmed the model.

More power was a possibility, but it would have turned the Civic Si into a moth venturing close to a flame. Honda’s reasoning is pretty straightforward.

Explaining that he was told “you can tune more power into it, but all of that takes away from the durability of the engine,” Rob Keough, the model’s senior product planner, outlined the company’s intentions to Automotive News.

“Honda likes to build their engines to last hundreds of thousands of miles, so they’re working toward that target,” he said. Meaning, if you’re looking for reduced engine life, the shady aftermarket tunes (or an old rotary Mazda) is your best bet.

Durability wasn’t the only consideration. Based on a window sticker spotted last week, it looks like Honda will keep a $10,000 buffer between the Civic Si and its beastly, 306-hp Type R sibling. Dropping a 2.0-liter into the Si — even a considerably milder one — would have ratcheted the MSRP into a less-attainable price range.

Currently, the 2017 Civic Si stickers for just under $25,000. Had the company gone with a larger engine, the price could have ended up pushing $30,000 — well above the model’s traditional range. Still, Keough wouldn’t rule out a hotter Si variant to split the difference between it and the Type R.

“There’s maybe other configurations and things that they can do with this motor,” Keough said. “The market will tell us and then we’ll see what we can do about it.”

[Image: Honda]

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53 Comments on “Civic Si’s Less-than-stunning Power Is for Your Own Good, Says Honda...”

  • avatar

    That rear view is just so hideous.

  • avatar

    I don’t believe A 2.0T would have cost so much more. The CTR’s? Sure, but a more basic one with the exact same parts count and tech of the 1.5T?

    Like the BRZ this thing is going to be 500cc’s short of undisputed greatness.

    • 0 avatar

      the architectures are different between the two, as well as I am aware. The Si 1.5l is “based” on the Fit L15. The Type-R 2.0l is a K-series more similar to the previous gen Si but with a turbo. It’s a more complex, expensive-to-produce engine before the forced induction is added.

      my point, to up-size the 1.5l would require more bore, more stroke or both.

      But it really comes down to development cost, not cost to produce. Sure they could probably slap something together, but there is a reason for their reputation for building long lasting engines- they place durability higher on the priority list. The cost to prove out the changes to the architecture to handle a 33% increase in displacement to please the guys who will just go out and get an aftermarket tune anyway aren’t really worth while.

      • 0 avatar

        >The Si 1.5l is “based” on the Fit L15

        Now if only they would put this new engine in the Fit…!

        • 0 avatar

          “Now if only they would put this new engine in the Fit…!”

          They can’t. Open the Civic’s hood. Where to fit all that mess in Fit?

          • 0 avatar

            All The evidence I need to the contrary-


          • 0 avatar

            Are we talking about the same TARDIS*? Honda Fit engineers will find a way.

            * yes, it’s an acronym.

      • 0 avatar

        Show me the extra $5,000 worth of engine hardware in a 2.0L DOHC 4-cyl vs a 1.5L DOHC 4-cyl.

        Especially if the 2.0L turbo is being used in other cars, the development costs aren’t that great.

        Yes, there are additional costs involved if you have to “beef up” drivetrain parts for the added power. But remember, Honda already developed heavier parts for the Type R.

        I am not saying it doesn’t cost money to engineer for power, but I am saying that the cost seems exaggerated and the explanation seems over-simplified.

        I am thinking it probably has more to do with development lead times and factory capacity than anything else. And if the Si model sticks around for more than a couple of years, it will get a bigger engine in time.

    • 0 avatar

      Niche models like the Si often ride the coattails.

      I have read elsewhere the reason for the 1.5T has more to do with logistics than anything else. Isn’t the Honda 2.0T built in the UK? If the Si were to get the 2.0T, you’d either have to re-tool Ohio for a niche model, import the engine from UK or build the entire car in the UK and import it.

      Also, in global markets that have a displacement tax, the 2.0T could cost quite a bit more. I believe that’s part of what Honda is speaking to.

      • 0 avatar

        I am not sure what is wrong with this company. Civics have 5 different engines now. 2x2L, 3×1.5L. Honda packaging always was an issue with me but now it is “todos locos”. I doubt they themselves know which one is which.

        • 0 avatar

          I concur. Honda used to be “the engine company”.

          They arent now. IMO heaps of companies have ‘showcase’ engines… Mazda’s 2.5 n/a, GM’s PFI turbo 1.6, even Nissans’s PFI 2.5 isnt bad. To us anyway, engines sell cars.

          Bad engine, bad car. I’m not interested in what Honda is pushing.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s all about trade-offs. At least on paper, 0-60 under 7 seconds, 28/38 EPA and a stick shift for $25K seems pretty optimum.

  • avatar
    John R

    This makes we wonder why supercharging isn’t adopted more by manufacturers. Supercharged Integra GS-R’s are neat.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    At no point is this car going to be considered attractive. 10 years from now, people will not look fondly upon this design like they do with old Civics now.

    Work on that issue before you worry about a few horsepower.

  • avatar

    There’s always the Elantra Sport if you don’t like the looks of this thing.

    Curious to see the real world performance figures for the Si and Elantra Sport.

    Given the numbers on paper are almost identical, will the Honda over-deliver and Hyundai under-deliver like is usually the case?

    • 0 avatar

      VW brought the Jetta sport back too, albeit without a manual for MY17. 180hp, 1.8T (with a ton of power left on the table via a $500 tune), and the suspension from the GLI, and you can generally buy one for around $18k.

    • 0 avatar

      In fact, I drove both. And I have to say, Si and Sport+package are practically identical. Although, Sport comes with leather seats and Si can’t have them. And with package, Sport can have Navigation. I just like Sport better to drive. It smoother than Si. Plenty of power. Brakes feel good in Sport and numb in Si. Interior is nicer in Si, minus dash. I hate that electronic dash. On top of that you can use hand brake in Sport for snow donuts. Sport is much cleaner under hood. And sounds better too. And with some cash on the hood… Sport wins in my heart. I wish they could have Sport with interior finish and seats from Si.

      • 0 avatar

        Smoother ride, or engine? The Honda engine has got to be more refined, when Car and Driver comes out with an Elantra Sport vs Si comparo, that’s what I’m expecting them to write.

        Your observations are interesting as I would’ve thought the Honda to have the more refined engine and ride vs. Hyundai.

        I’m a Honda fanboy that owns an Elantra Sport….but I wasn’t comparing it to the Si, but the LX 2.0L sedan with hubcaps, because it also was ~$18K that I paid for the Elantra.

        Looked at Jettas too, but I need a manual, and wasn’t going to take the VW plunge for a 1.4T.

        • 0 avatar

          “Honda engine has got to be more refined”

          That doesn’t sound scientific. Why is it “got” to be? If anything, engine is a child of an engineer. And Elantra Sport was done by a German.

          I took test Elantra through some serious twists at full throttle. It went through it like hot knife over butter. Si on the other side, was a bit rough-sounding over similar stretch.
          The good news is, there still is not as quick but very fun Mazda3.

        • 0 avatar

          Not quite “apples to apples,” but the Australian reviews have noted that the Elantra SR is the sportier of the 2 (Civic RS) to drive.

  • avatar

    Honda is right to tune the engine for reliability. It’s the only way to ensure resale value. I just wish they would have revealed the true extent of the horsepower ruse.

    Half of the ruse revolves around engineers tuning an engine until the reliability disappears, which undermines the usability of the performance. The other half of the ruse is that higher power outputs generally require the manufacturers to neuter the power with fuel-efficiency gearing to meet CAFE. Buyers pay for 50 additional hp and toque, which is subsequently eliminated at the wheels by gearing changes. They pay for the gearbox redesign as well.

    In short, these boy racers are merely bankrupting themselves and ruining the chassis tuning by adding torque steer.

    • 0 avatar

      According to Consumer Report, ’16 Civic is “worst buy” for reliability. So, be careful

      • 0 avatar

        yes, because the in-car electronics are wonky.

        Seriously. That is the only attribute where they’re “much worse than average.”

        • 0 avatar

          Japanese cars with bad electronics – novelty. They also had engine issues and even had stop-sell.

          • 0 avatar

            True, but the problem was corrected proactively.

            Of course, the ironic part was that the N/A 2.0 was the problem, not the 1.5T!

            The infotainment in the early Civics had major issues, especially with spurious error messages about some of the safety systems (pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist), but I believe those problems have been addressed.

            It is decisions like this underpowered Si which make me think that loss of plot is ruling the day again at Honda.

      • 0 avatar

        thanks for the info

    • 0 avatar

      Tell me more about how gearing changes can “eliminate horsepower”.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s an easy one, bike. If the gearing ratio is too steep, the engine is kept below the power band under normal driving conditions, forcing you to wind it tighter just to have sufficient power to maintain acceleration. You might get economy, but you lose performance.

  • avatar

    I’m wondering how much of this decision was actually “no, we don’t want to really compete with the WRX after all”.

  • avatar

    I test-drove this 2 days ago. I see more Cons than Pros in it. I can deal with the looks but I just can’t get over hideous electronic dash. On top of that, brakes are numb, engine doesn’t sound very refined, gear switch has short throws but is clunky. The seats are good. Interior is nice. Under hood is a mess. And then the price. I feel that Elantra sport does everything at least as good as Si and it is smoother operator. And because “Sport” doesn’t pack sunroof into base model, it can be purchased $4K under Si.

    I have some serious questions to Honda engineers. I see problems under hood. There are lot of components right behind bumper cover. Any small accident and I see lots of damage. Windshield washer located right behind fender. This car can have no dents.

  • avatar

    I have no problem with this thing limited to only 205 horses; that limited boost means you get better acceleration from a smaller engine AND eliminate the fuel-hungry high boost that many drivers tend to abuse and which many of them don’t know how to handle.

    205 horses in a relatively light car already offers impressive performance, compared to similar cars of 20 years ago. I had a Camaro with the 205-horse V6 under the hood and people thought it had a V8 when seeing its acceleration for the first time. They were even more amazed when I told them my highway mileage in that car exceeded 32mpg. I expect this Honda could make that Camaro look sick as far as economy while offering similar or better acceleration despite being somewhat inhibited. This is the kind of boost I’d like to put on my old Ranger because with even half the boost of the typical EcoBoost turbo I could probably up my horses by 50%.

  • avatar

    This car will be faster than 90% of the vehicles on the road. Which is exactly where the Civic Si should be. It’s never been a 1-percenter and people who think it should be, are just armchair quarterbacks.

  • avatar

    I would have been stunned, and possibly a buyer, if it had 4 doors.

  • avatar

    “Explaining that he was told “you can tune more power into it, but all of that takes away from the durability of the engine””

    Gee, I guess it never occurred to anyone maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to use a motor which could have “durability issues” under any possible circumstance.

  • avatar

    And yet, Ford Focus ST regularly stickers for under 25K while having a much more powerful 2.0T engine. Honda simply continues Civic’s tradition of offering the least power in Si’s class, counting mostly on brand aficionados and ricers to buy it.

    • 0 avatar

      I would buy an Si over a FoST.

      The Focus has a much less appealing interior, less cabin space and lower reliability rankings. These matter for cars that are ostensibly to be used as daily drivers.

  • avatar

    Is he implying that the NSX’s engine won’t last?

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