POSTED: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 6:44pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 9:29am
OK, OK, they did it again. Yet another darned-near perfect car from Honda graced my driveway this past week, and it brought home yet again why they are such formidable competitors. The Honda Civic Si for 2007 as well, is a quantum leap from the last generation and takes the Civic in general back to the head of the small car parade. Now I did say “darned-near” perfect because there is one thing I don’t care for, but it’s so picky as to be inconsequential. And even that gripette is overshadowed by the biggest news, a 4-door model.
Let’s start with the look, which is both classic and futuristic at the same time. We said in our coupe test awhile back, that there was a hint of the compactness of a Porsche 911 along with the short hood look of the Prius. The sedan doesn’t sport quite the sharp rake to the roofline, but loses none of the overall effect. Don’t let the Prius comment fool you, the avant guard visual is much sleeker in the Civic Si and the look is one of perfect balance. Inside, the cabin was spacious for a 2-door coupe but marvelous for a 4-door, and the seats are more firmly bolstered than in the past. The seat of the pants feel is almost German in firmness and very comfortable if a long haul is on your agenda. All the controls are light to the touch and the 6-speed manual gearbox in our test car was nicely gated with no hint of the mushy feel of Civics past. Now we come to my only gripe. This is a lovely, high performance sports sedan and it deserves a more classic instrument panel. The dash of the Si bows way out to follow the forward curve of the windshield and therefore is a good distance away from the driver. And it is all-digital with readouts that look like an old Chrysler LeBaron. But they also put an analogue tachometer directly under this goofy affair, just to make the whole thing look like the design mess it is. This car screams for a full set of analogue gauges in a nicely shaped binnacle, not Captain Kirk’s command chair controls.
Under the hood, the story is better than ever. The 2.4-liter, twin-cam four cylinder engine puts out 201 horsepower this year. This is the same engine found in the Acura TSX Type-S and what that means is smooth, effortless torque and power that is relatively constant through the rev band. 0-60 miles per hour comes up in a hair over 6.6-seconds, and a limited-slip differential is standard on the Si to keep everything planted and for a front-wheel-drive car, it is astonishingly sure-footed on a curving country road. All this performance doesn’t impact the wallet in these perilous times in the history of gas costs. 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway should be the norm, and this is the performance sedan. The standard and hybrid versions will astound you even more.
The Si Sedan with a killer stereo and the navigation system in our test car, you can expect to pay just under $24,600 and for a car that gives you all the stuff the tuners are looking for without the need for any tuning. That’s not a bad deal. Just ditch the old Lincoln Continental digital dash, and I’ll be one happy camper.