I have a confession to make: the outgoing Civic Si was one of my favorite cars, especially in its price point. The performance was reasonable and the handling halfway decent, but the driving experience was always greater than the sum of the parts. The car felt faster and more nimble than it really was, and the six speed gearbox used by Honda was among the smoothest on the market, in any price range. If Honda can put a smooth and precise gearbox in a $23,000 car, why can Porsche do the same in a car that stickers for five times the price? When Honda announced that they were dropping the 2.4-liter engine from the Acura TSX into the 2012 Civic Si, I thought it would make a good car noticeably better. Since I haven’t driven the new Civic Si yet, for now we’ll have to go with the opinions of Edmund’s InsideLine, so watch their video review below.
On paper, the difference between the 2011 and 2012 Civic Si’s isn’t all that impressive. The new car picks up four horsepower, but it does gain 31 more foot-pounds of torque. That translates to improved performance, but the difference isn’t as significant as what I’d hoped for, especially since the 2012 Si is 18 pounds lighter than the 2011 version. By way of example, the 2011 Civic Si managed the 0 to 60 sprint in 7.1 seconds; the 2012 car does it in 6.9 seconds, just 0.2 seconds quicker. The transition to VTEC is less pronounced in the new car, to the point where Honda includes a series of LEDs to show that VTEC is engaging. Oddly enough, the fuel economy is up for 2012, and the Civic Si now gets a combined city and highway average of 25 mpg (1 mpg better than last year).
The Civic Si has always been about the driving experience, not about how the specs play out on a sheet of paper. A lot of people have dissed Honda lately for moving away from their fan base, but I’ll reserve judgement until I have a chance to drive the new Civic Si. If it’s as good as the last one, there may be hope for Honda yet.