The Civic has always been a good citizen of economy land. Never less that than competent, not often more than mildly entertaining (aside from the rorty CRX), the Civic has been the car that everyone would recommend for their teenage niece for nigh unto 20 years.
But last year, Honda decided to heat up the Civic — to make it even more attractive to the hordes of southern California hot-rodders that have been turning the mild-mannered Civic coupes into their personal testosterone-driven chariots of fire.
Honda answered those homemade ‘rods with the Civic Si. And with the addition of more horsepower, cladding, and less suspension travel, the Civic is now available from the factory with modifications which used to only be obtainable in the aftermarket.
First on the list of equipment is a 160-horsepower DOHC VTEC engine. Its output bests the previous king of the hill Civic EX coupe by 33 horsepower. The engine is similar to the unit that was installed in the now defunct Civic del Sol. Not surprisingly, like other high-performance Honda engines, this one's a revver. And thank God you can't get it with an automatic transmission; its 8000-rpm redline makes such a thought seem sacrilegious. Not surprisingly, most of the power is produced aft of 4000 rpm when the VTEC variable cam timing uncorks the engine with more aggressive intake and exhaust flow.
But while the engine is definitely the centerpiece of this ride, there's much more to the Si than just a new engine. Next on the list of factory modifications is an upgraded chassis. Honda bolts on a rear stabilizer bar and a new front stabilizer bar with a diameter of 26 mm instead of 22 mm, as on other Civics. You also get four-wheel disc brakes in place of the front disc/rear drums of other models, and the new brakes rest behind 15-inch alloy wheels fitted with P195/55R15 V-rated Michelin XGT V4 tires. Coupled with these larger tires and wheels as well as the new stabilizer bar setup, stiffer springs and a front strut tower brace are fitted to further improve handling and steering response.