This vehicle was supplied by our good friends at Lee Honda. They always keep a good stock of these cars at their dealership in Auburn, Maine.
When the year 2016 rolled in, fans of the Honda Civic Si of years past were no doubt nervous that they would never see this lovable sporty car in the Honda lineup ever again. Sales were down in 2015, so it just didn’t happen that year. But along came 2017 and the facelift that the Si deserved came along with it. And it’s proven to be a 2017-worthy thrill for its audience. I had more fun with it than I was expecting to, and I’d love to tell you all about it.
I’ll start off with some preferential transparency, I don’t generally like coupes. To me a 4 door car makes more sense, I’m not fond of the enormous doors, the challenge to get in and out of the back seat, or the difficulty reaching the seatbelt if you’re in the front. And the civic is not immune to these flaws of concept.
But the coupe is for a specific type of person that’s probably not me. Someone who’s not accessing their back seat often, someone who perhaps has longer legs and can sit back further, and a variety of other circumstances that allow them to trade off without losing. So my pickiness won’t really factor in this review because I wasn’t looking at these things as flaws in Honda’s 2017 coupe. They’re just things that make the coupe body style remain a specific car for a specific type of person. It’s probably the reason why coupes are getting harder and harder to find; the whole concept seems to be dying off. But I think Honda is smart to continue supplying car buyers with that option as they’re one of the only ones left and there are plenty out there that still like them.
Style Worthy Of 2017
One of the strongest assets of the newly redesigned Civic Si is the way the body has been styled. It’s much bolder and more aggressive looking than the standard Civic, and that’s shown in the styling of the bumpers, the new lines, and the center exhaust. The design is very striking and truly grew on me over time. Honda went very audacious with the look of their coupe, but it’s reasonable and not too outrageous so as to scare away some more conservative buyers. The rear wing is stylish and tasteful, the wheels have a great pattern and two-tone finish, and I think the large mesh bumper vents (although fake) give it a really neat look. This look is reminiscent of some cars of the late 1990s that were designed for a fun and youthful attitude, such as the Subaru Outback Sport with its fake hood scoop and hood vents. Today we see cars like that sterilized and chopped down to a more basic, “normal” look which to me screams boring, and uninspired. You can’t speak about the new Civic Si and use any of those words when describing the exterior design. I’m glad to see Honda at least attempting to keep an inspired vision in their lineup.
Hopping into the driver’s seat, I was met with a very cozy racing style seat which felt just right to me. It’s become a very common thing to see this type of seat in this category of cars for the past decade or so, and this one wasn’t too constricting or tight at all. I felt my sides and shoulders were hugged nicely and my body felt planted for the ride ahead of me.
Other interior styling was very pleasing to the eyes and touch as well. The steering wheel has a very nice texture and feel to it, the gauges area is mostly digital and pleasing to look at, the push button start has an excellent red glow about it, and there are traces of carbon fiber patterns that are not over-the-top or outlandish but quite tasteful. The shift knob is noticeably smaller than average but I found it to be surprisingly ergonomic. I was mostly gripping it while cruising, which is out of normal habit for me, but the whole time I became familiar with it I never felt like anything about it needed improvement or change. Its short throw is a welcome addition to the Si’s sporty feature set.
The media center screen is big and bright and has a fairly snappy response to it And with integrated Apple CarPlay™ functionality I ended up using it more than I would have normally. I had a very hit-or-miss experience with that feature but I think it was more about the cable I was using at the time. When it did work, it worked as well as expected and it has a nice crisp, large display which makes it easy to see text and imagery from the map or album art. Also, voice recognition was very good and I never had to repeat myself or speak up while trying it. One thing I’m sad to see missing is a dedicated volume knob. Instead it’s now a touch screen slider which lacks tactile feel. Some may find this to be a cleaner look and a futuristic approach, but for me it’s all about function over form and nothing beats a knob to dial in volume appropriately in my opinion.
One thing I absolutely loved having and glad to see included in this year’s model was Honda’s LaneWatch™ system. This integrates a camera into the passenger side view mirror, and shows a live video of what’s coming up beside you on the right when you put your blinker on to change lanes or turn onto a road to make sure you don’t have an all-too-eager driver coming up behind you to pass you as you do that. It’s a great offering from Honda and nice to see them still putting this in their affordable car section. This is a $23,900 MSRP car with some great tech included in the price.
Sporty, Affordable Fun
Ok how about the actual drive? It’s quick. It’s very quick for a 205 hp 1.5L turbocharged coupe. It’s not blow-your-socks-off fast, but it’s truly in a “sweet spot” zone for quickness where it’s just plain fun to accelerate. It’s not scary fast which gives it great control and grip, but it also doesn’t feel like a sluggish machine at the same time. And the 28/38 MPG that goes along with it is an added bonus so buyers can feel like they can take the Civic on a very affordable road trip while also being able to have some torque and fun at their disposal.
The Civic Si also has a Sport mode that when activated shows a graphic in the dashboard that indicates that 3 major areas of the car have been improved: suspension, engine, and steering. And it’s very noticeable. Handling and steering is tighter, and the turbo seems to spool up quicker and have quicker throttle response. It’s the most impressive transformation when pushing the sport button that I’ve experienced in a car of this price point. And really worth using too.
I have to give it to Honda for going the distance with this new redesign, and they’ve done a great job making it fun and a good fit for their 2017 lineup. And for the MSRP of $23,900 it’s a fully loaded “affordable” car packed with a marriage of gadgetry and power that quite possibly could be unmatched by any other car out there. I hope to get another chance to drive one soon and I know that car buyers will be happy with this choice.