The late futurist Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Magical may be overselling Honda’s Civic Si—one of the model’s two performance-oriented editions—but time spent behind the wheel proves that it (and its coupe sibling) have some strong engineering mojo working.
Completely redesigned for 2016 and tweaked a bit since then, the Si’s styling is edgier than previous generations. Slide into the nicely bolstered driver’s seat and the Si’s stealthy technology begins casting its spell. Fire up the turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder and slip the shift lever for the close-ratio, smooth-shifting 6-speed manual transmission into gear (sorry/not sorry: no automatic is offered). Let out the clutch and the engine pulls strongly.
The steering is just as nicely dialed in, with a precise feel and a good weight. Handling is equally responsive, thanks to the adaptive sport-tuned suspension, while the Si’s larger brakes provide generous stopping power. In short, driving becomes thoroughly intuitive, as if the car has developed some neural connection that lets it know exactly where the driver wants it to go.
The Si’s roomy backseat and large trunk are other pluses. Unfortunately, advanced safety features are unavailable on the Si. That and the infotainment system’s unintuitive controls are the biggest nits to pick.
Ultimately, the Si may not be magical, but it feels darn close.
With the Auto Club's free Car Buying Service, members can enjoy a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle. Get estimated pricing and access to online inventory before visiting a AAA-recommended dealer near you. For details, go to AAA.com/auto or call 800-709-7222.
Vehicle layout: 4-door sedan, 1.5-liter turbocharged inline 4 (205 hp), 6-speed manual, FWD
MSRP, base model: $25,220; (as tested: $25,220)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 28/38/32
Safety ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall; IIHS: good (all crash-related ratings)
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Final Assembly: Alliston, Ontario, Canada
Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit