But with a more subtle design, it doesn't look like one.
Can you believe we’re on the 11th generation of the Honda Civic? God, we’re all so old. Good news though, even the eldest among us will only remember eight rounds of Civic Si, and it’s still a car perfect for launching off curbing like an immature hooligan, whether you are one, or you should know better. Just ask racing driver Ryan Lewis, he didn’t make it half a lap in the 2022 Honda Civic Si before he was recalling the hot hatch days of his misspent youth.
Honda didn’t offer the Si for 2021, so it’s a relief to see it back in the lineup. We talk a lot about the demise of big burly V-8s in the age of electrics, but these little cheap thrills cars are becoming rare too, and one of the things that makes the Si appealing is it doesn’t look like the kind of car it is. I love the Civic Type R, but it’s a commitment, it’s a lifestyle choice. You see that big wing and all the slats and slots. This is a lot more subtle. It’s not as quick as the Type R, but it does have more than double the horsepower it started with (the first Si in the mid-Eighties only had 91 hp and the new one has 200 hp). It’s more powerful, but Honda has done a good job of sticking to the mission statement—make a car that’s usable, affordable (it starts at under $30K, a rarity in today’s market), fun to drive, and comes as a manual.
Under the skin, not a great deal has changed with the 11th-gen Si. Same 1.5-liter inline-four with a turbo, same 6-speed gearbox, and just a few tweaks in the steering and suspension. This is a good thing because the last Si was excellent fun to drive. As another win for the “Save the manuals” crowd, the Si is only available with a 6-speed transmission, now with a rev-match function, which Lewis and I discussed at length. Is it good to heel-toe for yourself? Sure! Is it helpful to have the car do it if you need it? Look, anything that makes more people comfortable ordering up that third pedal is ok by me.
“It makes you sound like you know what you’re doing to the casual observer at least,” said Lewis, who does know what he’s doing.
I am a big fan of fooling the casual observer into thinking I know what I’m doing, and the Si makes everything about driving pretty simple. It has a light clutch, straight-forward shifter, bigger brakes, and stiffer springs, dampers, and bushings, as well as thicker roll bars. All of which should make even mediocre drivers (hi) feel confident going fast in it.
Cars are getting more expensive and more complicated as we speak. We filmed this video in the beginning of the year and the average car price feels like it’s still going up. The Civic Si is far more fun than its price tag would suggest, and a pleasant driving companion even if you aren’t misbehaving on track with a professional racer.