Highlights: The Civic Si, the performance version vehicle of the family, is only available with a manual transmission. The Civic Si is available as a coupe or sedan.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $24,475 (Base Model starts at $23,145)
Seating Capacity: 4 (However, Honda says 5, but it’s a tight squeeze.)
Standard Safety Features: airbags (front and side); ABS; electronic brake distribution; vehicle stability assist; traction control; daytime running lights; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment: 17-inch tires; cloth manual adjustable front seats; automatic headlights; power windows; power door locks; a rear integrated spoiler; an exhaust finisher; remote keyless entry; aluminum pedal plates; and a manual tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel
Standard Audio: a 7-speaker, 370-watt AM/FM/CD Player with a subwoofer and MP3/WMA Playback with a limited subscription satellite system
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Bluetooth Compatibility: Yes
MP3 Capability: Yes
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/201-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 22-city/31-hwy
What’s New: The redesigned ninth-generation Civic also includes both the performance-oriented Civic Si coupe and sedan in the line up.
Pros: In the redesigned Si, the embroidered cloth front seats, with the Si logo, are both supportive and comfortable. In fact, the Si provides additional side bolster support for the front seats.
Also, the 2012 Si in many ways look just like the previous model Si, when parked side-by-side. At first glance, the exterior changes aren’t that noticeable. However, once inside, there is a noticeable difference. In addition to a redesigned instrument panel, a new Sequential Rev-limit Indicator and a power monitor screen is now available. Thus, alerting the driver, when it’s time to use the smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. Underneath the hood, one will also find a brand-new, larger 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine which pushes out more horsepower than the previous model from the booming exhaust finisher. The previous generation Si was outfitted with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, which produced 196 horses. And the new larger displacement engine delivers peak power at 7000 rpm, as compared to 7800 in the 2011 model.
Added to that, the 17-inch tires help when cornering and the curvaceous Si distinguished itself from the plain Jane Civic with its aggressive front grille, fog lights, front and rear fascia elements.
Furthermore, the well-equipped Civic Si option list is extremely limited. Buyers of this high-performance compact can opt between a two-door or four-door model, a voice-activated nav system and summer tires. That’s it!
Cons: We have a few minor gripes with the vehicle. In the Si, Honda doesn’t offer a rear view camera in the Civic, leather seats or an available sliding front-center armrest. Furthermore, two average size adults will be hard pressed to squeeze into the rear seats of the two-door coupe, which were designed for little folks. Also the instrument panel gauges along with the 6.5-inch screen, which contains both the nav and the premium audio system, fades out during bright sun light.
Moreover, those unable or unwilling to drive a manual transmission will be unable to experience the fun factor provided in the Si, since it’s not equipped with an automatic transmission.
The Verdict: While the current-generation Civic has been criticized for being a bland, boring, no frill compact, the Honda Civic Si, with its manual transmission, stands apart from the crowd. The vehicle’s notable features are its sporty appearance and premium audio system.
In our opinion, there isn’t another mass-produced, performance-oriented compact that offers the styling, amenities and fun-to-drive factor at an affordable price.
Competition: Volkswagen GTI
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him http://twitter.com/#!/JeffCars/.