2017 Honda Civic Si Review

Back, but better?

Step, push, lift; step, pull, lift. Like walking, you find a rhythm driving the 2017 Honda Civic Si, even while furiously rowing its stubby, metal-trimmed gear selector and pumping the feather-light clutch.

Like other Honda shifters, the one controlling this reborn performance compact’s manual transmission is a piece of art. Light and precise, it glides from gate to gate, seemingly devoid of any friction, making it an absolute pleasure to use. There’s also a constant-mesh, helically cut reverse gear that eliminates the annoying whine Hondas used to make while backing up.

But praising this Japanese automaker’s shifters is merely stating the obvious, akin to saying soy sauce is salty or economy air travel uncomfortable. It’s quintessential.

Aside from this outstanding driver-interface element, there’s plenty more to love about the new Honda Civic Si, from its rapid acceleration and sporty steering to impressive fuel economy and value pricing, more than enough upsides to offset any of its minor shortcomings.

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A First Time for Everything

Breaking with tradition, this is the first Civic Si to feature a turbocharged engine from the factory. Like mainstream versions of the car, a 1.5-liter four-cylinder is nestled under its hood.

Rather than focusing on economical operation, performance was the goal. Accordingly, this Earth Dreams powerplant has been massaged in several ways to deliver more of what enthusiasts want.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Mazda3 vs Honda Civic Hatchback

Higher peak boost, which tops out at 20.3 PSI, helps this engine outmuscle lesser Civics. Fill the tank with premium-grade gasoline and you’re rewarded with 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. Compared to non-Si Civics those are increases of 31 and 25, respectively.

Sodium-filled exhaust valves, direct fuel injection and a forged-steel crankshaft help ensure quiet, efficient operation, though it is worth noting those output figures aren’t particularly impressive, especially compared to the firepower wielded by rivals like the Volkswagen GTI, Subaru WRX, and Ford Focus ST. However, don’t let them deceive you; the Si can run, hard. Given its rapid acceleration, we wouldn’t be surprised if this engine were underrated by a healthy amount.

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But don’t think all that giddy-up results in questionable efficiency. This new Civic Si is rated at 28 miles per gallon city (8.4 L/100 km) and 38 highway (6.2 L/100 km), damn impressive figures, especially for a performance car.

Double the Fun

Available in either sedan or coupe formats, this eighth-generation Civic Si should appeal to a broad spectrum of sport-compact customers.

Size wise, there are some unexpected differences between these two cars. The four-door variant is about five and a half inches longer than its coupe stablemate, something that helps it provide about three more cubic feet of trunk space, which tops out at a claimed 14.7.

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Luckily, these increased dimensions result in a curb weight that’s just 17 pounds huskier than the coupe’s. Both cars clock in at right around 2,900 pounds, making them significantly lighter than key rivals, a whopping 366 pounds trimmer than the WRX.

Winding through the mountainous terrain of California’s sun-scorched Mojave Desert, this high-performance Civic soon revealed its true colors (if you’re curious, up to seven exterior hues are available, with Energy Green Pearl exclusive to the coupe model). The Si’s steering is unusually sharp for an electrically boosted setup, with a ratio that’s just about perfect. Weighting is suitably sporty.

Thanks to its chunky rim, the tiller feels like a precision instrument in your hands. Throw in firm, fade-resistant brakes with a forgiving suspension arrangement and you have a car that’s eager to build driver confidence.

Track Ready

And this is key to on-track fun. Nobody wants to drive something that feels jittery at its limit, as if it will try to kill you if you’re not devoting 110 percent of your attention to it. The Si is a surprisingly capable steed on closed courses and mountain roads alike, remaining as planted as a giant sequoia.

We had a brief opportunity to evaluate this car on a short road course at Honda’s proving ground in the California desert. Performance was strong and handling benign, though truth be told, it was a lot more fun on the street.

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One issue that diminished the on-track fun is a lack of headroom. In normal driving, this is not a problem, but when a helmet is factored into the equation, things get iffy. I had to sit in an awkward, overly reclined position, otherwise my head was mashed against the roof, cocked to one side. If you plan on racing, it’d be smart to bring your helmet along on any Civic Si test drive you take just to make sure this isn’t an issue.

Understeer is the name of the game when cooking corners, though this is no surprise since the Civic is front-wheel drive. Enter a turn too hot and she’ll push wide of your intended line. Tight maneuvers are accompanied by a wisp of body roll.

Altering the car’s feel is a drive-mode selector with two settings, Normal and Sport. The former provides a more relaxed experience, the latter amplifies the power steering, throttle response, stability control threshold and stiffens the adaptive dampers. Yes, this car’s shocks are now adjustable.

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In Sport mode, the Si is noticeably more responsive, with a more eager accelerator pedal and weightier steering. Many of today’s drive-mode selectors are basically useless, but this one actually makes changes you can feel.

ALSO SEE: Top 10 Cars the 2017 Honda Civic Type R Beats on the Nurburgring

Compared to a standard Civic, the Si’s suspension has 7 percent stiffer front springs; at the rear, they’re 32 percent starchier. The stabilizer bars are also meatier, ditto for the upper control arms. This provides a frim but livable ride. Even over large bumps the tuning isn’t too harsh. A helical limited-slip differential keeps you from roasting one front tire when exiting corners.

High-Strung Horses

Even though the 2017 Civic Si’s horsepower rating matches the previous generation’s, it’s far less peaky. Unlike that naturally aspirated car, you needn’t wring its neck to get moving in a hurry.

Along with a 100-pound weight advantage, today’s turbocharged model responds readily from the tach’s midrange onward, pulling enthusiastically all the way to redline. But hey, it’s a Honda, that’s kind of their thing…

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As is an acute lack of low-end torque. In, say, second gear at 1,500 rpm, you can nail the accelerator and nothing happens for three or four seconds. The engine doesn’t catch its breath until about 3,500 rpm, at which point it finally wakes up.

Admittedly, this is a relatively minor gripe; just downshift and rev it up. My biggest dynamic complaint, what annoys me most about this new Si, is the clutch.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback Review

I like a left pedal with some meat on her bones. This Honda’s is scrawnier than a chicken foot. Feather-light with a vague engagement point, it’s like stepping on cupcake, though without the risk of smearing frosting all over your shoe. Throw in an engine that’s slow to drop revs when you lift your foot off the accelerator and this Civic can be frustrating to drive smoothly. Even after several hundred miles behind the wheel I never fully mastered it.

Still, this new Civic Si is far better to drive quickly than the old one. The old one returned such bad track times against its competition that we thought it was broken. Although it felt decent to drive on the street, it was far too sloppy to be rewarding when pushed really hard on a track. The suspension was way too soft and the dynamics just weren’t there. This new Civic Si doesn’t really have these problems.

Small Can be Premium

Like mainline Civics, the Si is blessed with an upscale interior. Richly textured soft plastics, tasteful styling, and high-quality controls are all part of this package deal.

Locking you in place are sporty front bucket seats that are unique to this performance model. Striking a nice balance, they keep you upright in tight corners but aren’t so aggressive that they’d be a literal pain in the backside to live with every day.

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A seven-inch Display Audio system gives you access to vehicle settings and other important functions; it also enables Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are included at no extra cost.

The same is true of the Si’s 10-speaker, 450-Watt sound system. Heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and an electric parking brake are all standard as well.

The Verdict: 2017 Honda Civic Si Review

The 2017 Honda Civic Si brings a lot to the table. It’s incredibly fuel efficient, provides exemplary road manners and is dressed up with tastefully aggressive styling, but it’s also got more standard equipment than rival models and a lower price tag.

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Not only is this a great driver’s car, it’s also a strong value, starting at $24,775 including $875 for delivery, which gets you either a sedan or coupe. The sole option on this car is a $200 upcharge for summer tires. That’s it.

Despite its numerous talents, I’d probably rather have the more grownup-looking and oh-so-sophisticated GTI, but I’d take this Civic Si over a Ford Focus ST or Subaru WRX any day. If you like what you see with the reborn Si – and you totally should – it’s landing on dealer lots right now.

Discuss this story on our Honda Civic Forum

  • danwat1234

    Gutless low end … electric drivetrains do not have this issue.

  • Cody Beisel

    Electric drivetrains also cost waaaaay more. You obviously haven’t driven a car that you have to beat the piss outta to make power, you buy a car like this because it’s fun to abuse and wring out the modest power it has on tap and make the most of it.

  • danwat1234

    Yes they usually do cost more unless you buy used.
    I have driven a car with low power. A 1999 Civic DX Coupe 4-speed automatic 106HP 103tq. Nice car and I’ve towed ~1500 pounds with it. Very durable and the engine is strong like new, not afraid to get near red line, but plan on putting that on beater duties soon and buy a used EV.

  • Pete Flynn

    Go away. You are a troll. People shopping this car could care less.

  • danwat1234

    People stuck in the 20th century. A used Chevy Bolt that’ll do 0-60 in 6.5 seconds ought to be $20K or less within a few years, nearly the same performance as this car.

  • Christopher Iden

    nice car but reminds me too much of my honda accord Coupe…

  • Cody Beisel

    Now that you mention it the other morning while driving to work I had mistaken the new Civic coupe for an Accord coupe they have grown significantly in size compared to my 15 si coupe

  • Barron

    Or you can go to a junk yard and build your own car from parts for only $500, and you can build it so it does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. What is your point exactly?

  • Barron

    EV is a very bad idea. You should consider the batteries which will need replacing, at a very high cost. A friend of mine has a used Hybrid, and one of the cells had gone bad and it caused the entire battery to stop. Sure it was probably only one cell, but to find it and fix it, the dealer was going to charge her over $5k. Because it was a Hybrid, it was still derivable, but an EV will not even drive.

  • Jamie

    The mileage is nice but it sucks that it’s still on premium fuel still. Premium fuel costs about 30% more these days which really adds up.

  • Cody Beisel

    I’ve never had a problem with paying a little extra for premium considering the extra mileage and performance you get with it. You could put regular in the car just expect the performance to lag behind. If you want cheap gas then buy a base Civic if you want some fun you better expect to pay!

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Over priced. Looks like they plugged the CRV specs in at 1/3 the size.

  • Dying_in_this_Crap_World

    Premium gives you less mileage per $.

  • Jamie

    There is no way premium fuel gives you 30% better economy, that’s what sucks. I do understand it’s requirements for proper engine performance. 70 cents a gallon for a couple octanes is crazy, it was only 15-20 cents more just a couple years ago.

  • Cody Beisel

    Regular is 101 where I’m at and premium is 116. Not a big difference considering the performance I get based on cars that use regular!

  • Bob Johnson

    why do people say could care less.

  • Bob Johnson

    The Bolt has a $36,600 MSRP and can’t go more than 230 miles.

  • Jamie

    Damn, reg is 2.23 and premium is 2.93 around here!

  • danwat1234

    Like I mentioned, buy a Bolt when it’s 2-3 years old, probably $20K. Still more than a used ’17 Si but the gap is narrower.
    More fast charging stations are rolling out all the time.

  • danwat1234

    My point is to spread knowledge that electric cars exist and are starting to penetrate the mainstream.

  • danwat1234

    The battery pack on just about all electric cars is 8 years 100K miles. Probably won’t need replacing right then, otherwise there would be a lot of claims. It is liquid cooled and heated to maintain proper temperature. In the 8+ years for it to degrade 20% or more to the point where you’d want to replace the battery, the cost should be quite a bit lower than it is now, given the reduction in cost per KWh we have seen with battery cells over the past few years and should continue.

    A lot of hybrids (don’t think any new ones) do not have a traditional starter. Motor/Generator 1 cranks the engine, which requires the high voltage battery pack.

  • Cody Beisel

    I’m just curious why you would come and “spread the word” about ev cars on a performance cars page? The Chevy isn’t gonna handle or connect the driver to the road and give the same feeling the Honda does. You’re comparing apples to oranges. I personally will not own an ev car in my lifetime as my commute to work is beyond the range capacity most ev cars have.

  • Cody Beisel

    You come to an enthusiast page, talking about a lame commuter car. I’m really confused as to why? The hoax page that was created with the Chevy jolt looked cool but we know gm will never build a fun to drive ev so why spread the word to guys who actually enjoy driving cars about a lifeless ev??

  • danwat1234

    Then a plugin hybrid would work fine. There will be more performance plugin hybrids down the road, and buy used to save cost. And never say never about the range, who knows 10 years from now the power density possible.

  • Cody Beisel

    But why buy a used ev that isn’t performance orientated and talk about it on a page dedicated to a performance orientated car? 🙄 I’m just lost with your argument in 10 or so years they will build performance orientated ev that’s a possibility in 10 years that car brand new will cost way to much so then we should wait 15-20 years for a used one that will need expensive repairs but at a more affordable price. I don’t get the point you’re trying to make. The Civic si and they type r doesn’t cater to someone who wants a ev or for that matter anyone buying these cars could care less about an ev. I’ve driven electric atvs so I have an idea of what it would feel like and it’s just not for me, as an enthusiast who actually enjoys driving an ev is an insult to my every sense of driving enjoyment. Bad comparison man. Best talk about ev on a tesla page or middle ground on a hybrid page!

  • danwat1234

    The Chevy Bolt is one of the higher horsepower EVs out there besides Tesla. Definitely the most HP of a FWD mass market EV.

    15-20 years, .. shouldn’t take more than 5 years to find one at half the cost of original.
    In 10 years the cost per KWh also should be way cheaper too. Experts expect the difference in price from a regular car to an EV to diminish in the following years.

  • danwat1234

    https://jalopnik dot com/the-chevy-bolt-runs-closer-to-the-vw-gti-than-you-might-1796402701

  • danwat1234

    https://jalopnik dot com/the-chevy-bolt-runs-closer-to-the-vw-gti-than-you-might-1796402701 bam