2015 Honda Civic Si SedanPosted on July 2nd, 2015
Affordable performance for driving enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
The Civic Si test car parked in my driveway reminds me of Christmas in July. The high-performance version of Honda’s best-selling compact sedan has long been a favorite among driving enthusiasts: an affordable well-balanced package that’s equally at home doing the daily commute or laps at the track.
Power comes from a 205-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed close ratio manual gearbox. Those who can’t drive a stick need not apply. Those of us who like to push a clutch pedal see that as a win for the Gipper.
Pricing for the Si sedan with navigation begins at $24,490, a bargain considering its chassis components and convenience features including keyless entry, seven-inch touchscreen display with navigation, real-time weather and traffic, satellite radio, rearview camera, Honda LaneWatch, Bluetooth, power moonroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and USB interface. Final MSRP on the test car is $25,310.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
My 100-mile test drive included Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley as well as sections of Tempe and Chandler, Arizona and the Gila River Indian community south of town. Honda has a talent for combining tuning and ergonomics in a way that makes its vehicles intuitive to operate.
The engine has an abundance of low-end torque as well as horsepower giving it excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic.
Like most Honda engines the block likes to rev high. Redline is 7000 rpm, and the sweet spot for power is about 3500. However driving at lower engine speeds to conserve fuel does not make the car feel anemic. Because of its high compression ratio Honda recommends but does not require the use of premium unleaded gasoline.
A short-throw shift lever and light clutch pedal make it easy to utilize the manual gearbox in traffic. There is plenty of range within the gears to prevent the driver from having to shift constantly. On the other hand, the close ratio setup is ideal for track competition.
The shift lever has a metallic-colored composite knob that gets very hot in this area’s extreme summer heat. It might not be a problem for other parts of the country but driving around mid-day I needed to use an oven mitt to keep from burning my hand. To be fair, this is a problem in this area with a lot of shift levers. But perhaps Honda could consider an alternative design that would be just as attractive but not hold onto heat the way the current shift lever knob does.
Front-to-rear weight distribution is approximately 60/40: typical for a front-wheel drive car. Although I never drove the car on wet pavement, I experienced no tendency towards understeer during the test drive. The Civic’s light curb weight contributes to a positive power-to-weight ratio for the four-cylinder engine.
Manual driver’s seat adjustments are easy to use and I had plenty of lower lumbar support for the longest section of the drive. I also appreciate the small diameter steering wheel that is more ergonomic for women drivers.
The suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup on the back axle. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Ventilated disc brakes up front and solid discs in the rear stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
The electric power steering system is one of the best-tuned units I’ve experienced, with plenty of low-speed assist for maneuverability and excellent on-center response on the highway.
Visibility around the perimeter is quite good. A convex mirror insert on the driver’s side makes it possible to monitor two lanes of traffic to the left of the car. Honda’s LaneWatch system projects a view to the right hand side of the vehicle when the driver signals to move in that direction, eliminating dangerous blind spots. The rearview camera makes it easier to monitor cross-traffic in crowded parking lots.
Honda has a talent for making interiors on compact models such as the Civic seem much bigger than they actually are. One reason is the low cowl that also enhances the driver’s forward visibility. Designers also keep clutter to a minimum, making the most of the available interior space.
For example, a mouse control similar to that on personal computers eliminates a bunch of buttons in the center stack. The USB port is recessed at the base of the center stack where it is easy for the driver to reach but out of the way of the shift knob. I was able to put a 20-ounce water bottle in the cupholder in the center console and still easily reach the shift lever.
While performance enthusiasts tend to favor coupes over sedans, the four-door setup has some distinct advantages in the rear world. Second-row passengers will appreciate better access and egress. It is also much easier to install a child safety seat, making the Si an option for growing families.
The fold-flat rear seats extend the cargo floor for long items such as skis and snowboards. Cyclists will be better served with one of Honda’s two crossover vehicles.
The Honda Civic Si sedan comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, daytime running lamps, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, rearview camera, Honda LaneWatch and tire pressure monitoring.
Honda builds the Civic Si in its Alliston, Ontario Canada assembly plant.
Like: An affordable versatile sedan with excellent driving dynamics and appealing styling.
Dislike: Shift lever knob gets dangerously hot in extreme summer heat.
Model: Civic Si sedan
Base price: $24,490
As tested: $25,310
Horsepower: 205 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 174 lbs.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 22/31 mpg city/highway