Red Hot – 2012 Honda Civic Si – Full Review
We reviewed the 2012 Honda Civic Coupe back in November of last year and had a lot of hard criticisms for this 9th Generation Civic. As enthusiasts, we remember the Civic being a fun, small car that was affordable and cool. We couldn’t really say any of the same things about the Civic we reviewed in November, but we left the review saying we’d reserve our enthusiasts opinion until we had the chance to drive the Si. Well, the time has come.
Let’s first look at what’s new for the Civic Si, including an upgrade to a 2.4-liter engine. Normally you’d be looking at a 1.8-liter under the hood, and even in the previous Si, you had to make due with a 2.0-liter engine. The new engine, which is the same engine found in the CR-V, pushes out 4 more horsepower with a rating of 201-hp. This isn’t a significant jump in power, but the Si makes up for that fact in its torque number. The 2.4-liter found under the hood of the 2012 Civic Si pushes out 22% more torque than the previous generation totaling 170-ft-lbs. This is a significant jump and you can really feel it with low-down grunt. The redline for the larger displacement engine drops from 8,000-rpm to 7,000-rpm, but the drop doesn’t take away from reving the engine out – but more on that later. The new engine comes with only one transmission selection and that would be a 6-speed manual. This is a good thing.
Beyond the engine, Honda has made more improvements to add to the sportiness of the new Si. The Si is said to include multiple weight saving technologies, and tips the scales at 2,877-lbs. It’s also equipped with a helical limited-slip differential to improve handling and control when the road gets twisty.
All of these new features and technology make me believe that, at the least, Honda is trying once again to bring some sportiness back to the Civic and back to the brand. The big question though is has it worked and can the Civic still hold its own with all the new competition hitting the street?
Driving the 2012 Civic Si is just about perfection. The steering feel is bang on and the clutch and shifter feel in perfect harmony and are easy and rewarding to use. The extra torque from the 2.4-liter engine gives you a great push off the line. Then when you get up in the revs and the i-Vtech kicks in, you get that extra push that just makes you want to rev this engine up and down forever. Highway on-ramps and tight corners will never be the same as you downshift this smooth transmission, slam on the gas pedal and scream down the road.
The balance and handling have been improved on as well. Cornering in the Civic Si is mostly flat and you have a good feel of what the tires underneath you are doing. There are better handling cars out there, but for a total package, the Si really stands out.
So, for an overall performance package, the 2012 Civic Si really stands out and impressed me, especially compared to the 2012 Civic coupe we reviewed last year. But how does it stand up to the competition?
First of all, lets talk about the styling of the Civic Si. The coupe version of the Civic is much sleeker than the sedan and the Si has a lower and wider looking profile, but what it’s really lacking is any real aggression. It’s almost too plain of a car for the way it drives.
Inside is nice and laid out well. You get cloth, bolstered seats that were great holding you in the corners, but were also much more comfortable and nice looking than the fake leather you get in the more expensive EX-L model.
The starting price for the 2012 Civic Si is $22,355. When you pack it with goodies like touchscreen navigation and bluetooth, like our tester was, you can easily hit around $24k. This is still a great price and probably one of the best bang-for-your-buck coupes you can buy today, but should you buy one over its competition?
When talking about competition for the Civic Si, you mostly hear names like the Mazdaspeed3 and the Volkswagen GTI. You might even hear the Evo or STi being thrown around. These are all front-wheel-drive based cars that have been competing for sales with the Civic Si for some time now, but maybe you should be thinking a little differently.
You can now buy such sporty coupes like the BRZ, FR-S, and Genesis Coupe 2.0t R-Spec. All cost more than the Civic Si, but they are all rear-wheel-drive based coupes that offer great driving experiences and new aggressive styling. The Genesis 2.0t R-Spec has much more horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbo engine and can be had new for $2,000 over the price of the Si. I would argue though, what you gain in horsepower, you lose in feel. The Steering feel and feel of the shifter and clutch in the Si feels much better than in the Genesis.
The BRZ/FR-S on the other hand has less power, barely, but has even better feel from the steering and shifter, plus the RWD platform. Again, you’re looking at about $1,000 more in sticker price, but if it was my money, the FR-S is probably where I’d be looking.
So the 2012 Civic Si actually restored some faith I had lost in Honda and it’s a great car to drive. I can’t wait to see what the aftermarket world does with this car, but I would really like to see Honda make more of an effort to make the Si a more aggressive looking car to match the new aggressive driving feel.