2022 Honda Civic Si First Drive: Straying From The Formula
Since its introduction in 1984, the Honda Civic Si built its status as an affordable sporty car by offering better value and performance throughout its nine generations. However, the 2022 Honda Civic Si strays from this formula slightly by omitting standard features, a slight loss in power, and a higher price tag. On paper, the new Si doesn’t immediately come across as the value proposition it once was.
It’s only behind the wheel that the new Si’s improvements come into view. Benefiting from the longer wheelbase and wider track of the 11th generation Civic, this latest Si utilizes suspension components from the Type R, large brakes, sticky summer tires, and a revised manual shifter to deliver a fun driving experience for under $30,000.
In an always competitive sport compact segment, the question becomes: Do the hits outweigh the misses?
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Gallery: 2022 Honda Civic Si First Drive
Less On Paper, More On The Road
Powering the 2022 Honda Civic Si is the same turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder as the previous generation, developing 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. While the 5-hp deficit is a bummer, the new Si does offer a lower torque peak at 1,800 rpm versus 2,100 rpm for the outgoing car.
This might be more of a gain on paper than on the street, however, as the 1.5T is still mostly characterized by its willingness to rev. A quick-spinning engine—quicker than ever thanks to a lower weight flywheel—finds it’s horsepower peak at 6000 rpm, before hitting the limiter at 6,600. In all of that action the small deficit of power is hard to notice, especially in the kind of real-world-fun driving that the Si is known for.
Power still goes to the front wheels exclusively via a six-speed manual. Better yet, said manual’s throws are now 10 percent shorter, which adds positively to the driving experience. Honda’s unique, some might say magical, shifter feel is intact and augmented by quicker, more precise gear changes. Additionally, Honda spaced the Si’s three pedals in such a way that pulling off the occasional heel and toe maneuver is simple.
The Si also benefits from the previous-gen Type R’s rev-matching system, which works well to smoothen up changes, but can be turned off for those who want a less assisted driving experience. (Though finding the “on/off switch” could require repeated trips through the owner’s manual.) While the Si offers one of the best manual transmissions in its segment, it stands alone in offering a manual as its only option. Competitors such as the Volkswagen Jetta GLI, Kia Forte GT, and Hyundai Elantra N-Line all offer dual-clutch transmissions as an alternative.
Honda nailed the Civic’s steering action, feel, and feedback. While the Si relies on an electric power steering unit like its predecessor, it feels heavier than before, providing excellent feedback and quick turn-in. For context, the Si’s steering is now heavier than what you’d find in a Volkswagen Jetta GLI, with more useful information coming from the front wheels. In a sporty sedan that doesn’t have immense power to fall back on, communicative steering contributes significantly to how much fun the driver has behind the wheel.
Unlike its predecessor, the 2022 Honda Civic Si no longer features two-stage adaptive dampers. Thankfully the new dampers work well at higher speeds, providing the Si with greater stability. The new shocks are supported by stiffer suspension bushings from the Type R, higher spring rates front and rear, and stiffer anti-roll bars. While these beefed up components help the Si perform better at speed, they come at a cost around town, where the sporty Civic feels stiffer and bouncier than would be ideal.
Honda nailed the Civic’s steering action, feel, and feedback.
As with previous generations, the Civic Si is available with dedicated summer or all-season tires, with the former costing $200 extra. Those sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tires performed admirably during our test drive, even when we pushed the Si into sharp corners.
Naturally, the other half of a quick corner is stout brakes. Thankfully the Si has an advantage here with 12.3-inch brake rotors up front and 11.1-in in the rear. Those are bigger discs than you’ll find on the Hyundai Elantra N-Line or the Kia Forte GT. While the Si’s rotors are the same size as in the previous generation, they still fit this sporty sedan well, offering a solid initial bite and progressive braking performance that remains consistent even after hours of hard sporty driving.
The new Civic Si’s familiar engine gets an all-new exhaust system, which significantly changes the engine’s tune in the cabin and overall character. Instead of buzzing its way to redline, the Si’s four-cylinder now sings a silky smooth song you’d be happy to hear. Thankfully the new system quiets back down in the lower rpms, giving you volume levels adequate for daily driving.
Red, Red, and Red
Like all previous generations of the Si, red remains the staple accent color. Step inside the and you’ll find red accents on the dashboard, front seats, door cards, shifter, and more. On their own, these red elements work well, giving a pretty standard interior, a sporty edge. But up against our test car’s Blazing Orange Pearl paint (which is an Si-exclusive color), extensive red touches clashed with the exterior finish. Thankfully, just about every other available color should match up nicely.
Despite only offering manually adjustable front seats, the Si’s sport seat is comfortable, even on long drives, thanks to added support around the thigh area. While it is easy to dial in a good driving position in the Si, its seats fall short of the 8-way power seats with lumbar support found in competitors such as the Hyundai Elantra N-Line. Additionally, the Si is only available with cloth seats, while the Hyundai offers up a combination of leather and cloth. Though it’s fair to say that in the sport compact segment, a lighter, simpler, cloth-clad seat is exactly what some shoppers are still looking for.
Given the Civic Si’s standing as a value-focused sporty sedan, it offers notable standard features such as a 12-speaker Bose sound system, a 9.0-in touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto connectivity, and the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. Still, overall value takes a bit of a hit with the loss of standard heated seats and dual climate controls. These axed features do come standard on cheaper competitors such as the Kia Forte GT and Hyundai Elantra N-Line.
A Heightened Price With Affordable Options
Overall this Honda is still an affordable sporty sedan, just slightly less affordable than before. The Si now starts at $28,315, including a $1,015 destination charge, marking a near $2,400 increase over its predecessor. In contrast, the aforementioned Kia Forte GT and Hyundai Elantra N-Line cost significantly less, starting at $23,490 and $24,250, respectively. This latest price increase pushes the Si out of being the go-to value proposition as its competitors offer more standard features for less.
On the upside, the Si’s price tag won’t go up much further than that with options. The sparkly orange paint, for example, only costs $395, while the sticky summer tires add $200 to the price. The most expensive option available for the new Si is the dealer-installed the HPD Package, which improves the car’s aesthetics and costs an additional $1,112 plus installation fees. As a result, you don’t need to pay up extra to get the best driving version of the Si.
Despite its higher starting price and shortened features list, the Si still manages to shine in the affordable sporty sedan segment. From its sharpened handling to its stellar shifter and high-strung engine, the Si is a joy to hoon around on a fun road. While it may no longer be the most value-focused buy under $30,000, the Si buys you levels of fun its competitors will struggle to match.
Civic Si Competitor Review:
- Volkswagen Jetta GLI: Not Rated
- Hyundai Elantra N-Line: Not Rated
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