Cars Tech

2017 Honda Civic Si: The Sporty Civic Returns

2017 Honda Civic Si Front Driving

American Honda

The Honda Civic Si returns for 2017.

The Honda Civic is the best-selling car in the country. In a country where cars aren’t selling well, over half-a-million 10th generation Civics have sold in just 18 months, increasing the car’s market share by 3 percent. With that much success Honda doesn’t need a sportier, niche version like the Civic Si, but the automaker is introducing one anyway, along with the much-anticipated Civic Type R. Both versions will build on the 10th generation Civic’s excellent platform, with 25 percent higher torsional rigidity and an approximately 100-pound weight advantage compared to the previous Civic Si.

2017 Honda Civic Si Front

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The 2017 Honda Civic Si features an upgraded grille.

The Civic Type R is still a ways out, but the Civic Si will be in showrooms soon, featuring a host of performance upgrades meant to fill the “exciting sport” role in the Civic line. The Si’s exterior upgrades are easy to spot, ranging from a revised front bumper with larger openings, larger 18-inch wheels with 235/40 tires, a rear spoiler and a center exhaust outlet. A sharper eye might discern the Civic Si’s 5 mm lower ride height compared to the standard Civic.

2017 Honda Civic Si Interior

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All Civic Si interiors are black with red stitching

The Si’s interior also features a range of unique items, including a red gauge cluster with a rev meter, lateral G-meter and lap timer. There’s also a leather steering wheel with red stitching, a black cabin with more red stitching, sport pedals and sport seats with embroidered “Si” emblems. The seats are the most dramatic upgrade, using a unique metal frame supporting aggressive side bolsters. The Civic already boasts the highest interior volume in the compact car category, yet the Si builds on the car’s functionality with a dose of passion.

2017 Honda Civic Si Engine

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Upgraded engine tuning give the Is 205 horsepower

The Si’s exterior and interior upgrades are matched by mechanical enhancements to the drivetrain and suspension. The same 1.5-liter turbo found in other Civics powers the Si, with higher turbo boost (23 psi max) and better airflow pushing peak horsepower from 174 to 205 hp. Peak torque also grows from 167 pound-feet to 192 lb-ft. This improvement is particularly noticeable at midrange rpm in higher gears, where the engine still pulls with authority.

2017 Honda Civic Si Shifter

2017 Honda Civic Si Shifter

The Civic Si is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission

The sporty Civic manages an impressive 28 city mpg, 38 highway mpg and 32 mixed mpg. A single, 6-speed manual transmission option means only three-pedal buyers can operate the new Si. Automatic shoppers might whine, though Honda’s reputation for magnificent manuals continues in the Si, including a 10 percent shorter throw and a stiffer mounting bracket versus other manual Civics.

2017 Honda Civic Si Profile Red

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Larger, 18-inch wheels enhance handling in the Civic Is

A car like the Civic Si certainly benefits from increased power, but the Si’s real focus is the total driving experience. Enhancements to the Si’s suspension and wheel/tire package keep the 2017 Si true to previous models’ reputation. A larger power steering motor keeps the steering light, despite the Si’s bigger 235/40 R18 tires. The bigger news is the Civic Si’s first use of adaptive dampers, which further benefit from more rigid damper mounting points along with stiffer springs and stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars.

2017 Honda Civic Si Rear Driving

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The 2017 Honda Civic Si uses adaptive dampers to enhance its dynamics

All that stiffening might sound like a recipe for teeth rattling, but the adaptive dampers (plus fluid-filled compliance bushings) keep the Si’s ride quality easy going in either “Normal” or “Sport” mode. The Si’s reduced body roll, standard limited-slip differential and larger disc brakes make for an engaging driving experience along twisting canyon roads, or even at Honda’s test center in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

2017 Honda Civic Si Steering Wheel

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Steering feel and ride quality are among the best Honda Civic Si traits

We experienced the new Civic Si in both conditions and couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces. Everything from steering feel to shifter action to a more pronounced exhaust note kept us entertained while shooting from apex to apex. Switching from Normal to Sport mode tightens up steering feel, throttle response and ride quality, but even in Normal mode the Civic Si offers an excellent balance of fun and functionality. Sport mode is similarly effective for extended periods without wearing on the driver or passengers.

2017 Honda Civic Si Seat

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Embroidered “Si” lettering is featured on the heavily-bolstered seats

Honda has kept things simple on the 2017 Civic Si. Beyond the Coupe or Sedan body style and one of seven colors, the only option to consider are the $200 summer/performance tires. Everything else comes standard for $23,900 ($24,775 with dealer handling). That price includes a power moonroof, dual-zone climate control, a 7-inch touchscreen display monitor, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, foglights, keyless entry and a 450-watt audio system with 10 speakers. These features are in addition to all of the aforementioned performance upgrades (sport pedals, 18-inch wheels, limited slip, etc.).

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan

American Honda

The Honda Civic Si is available in coupe or sedan form

That’s a lot of car for less than $25,000. The 2017 Civic Si undercuts the competition from Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen on price, just as it undercuts their curb weights by up to 366 pounds. Sport-oriented drivers seeking maximum bang (and minimum heft) for their buck will find the new Si tough to beat.

Karl Brauer has spent over 20 years working in the automotive industry as a writer, analyst, web designer, online business consultant and media representative. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram