The Honda Civic Si has grown by a lot over the generations. The current Si is almost as long as the Honda Accord. But with the bigger size, is it still fun to drive?
Engine – The high revving VTEC days of the old Civic Si are long gone. Instead, this new Civic Si gets boost. The 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 200 hp & 192 lb-ft of torque (149 kW & 260 Nm). There have been other reviews of this car with dyno tests and as it turns out, this engine actually produces about 10 to 15 hp more than is claimed by Honda. But I can’t verify that for myself so I can only go off the press material.
Regardless of the extra power or not, the engine picks up quickly as soon as the rpm needle hits the 2,000 mark. Coupled with the short ratio gearbox, the engine quickly hits the redline under full throttle applications. Actually, in order to hit 100 km/h (62 mph), you need to shift into 3rd gear. Depending on how quickly you can change gears, 0-100 km/h can be achieved in 6.5 to 7 seconds.
Fuel Economy – With such a small engine, the 2023 Honda Civic Si is actually very fuel efficient. It’s rated for 8.7 L/100km (27 MPG) in a city and 6.4 L/100km (36.8 MPG) on a highway. During my week with the car, I averaged 7.0 L/100km (33.6 MPG).
Helping with the fuel economy is the auto start/stop function. I know, a lot of people don’t like it and there is a button on the center console to turn off this feature. But it works as it should with the engine shutting off if the car is in neutral with your foot off the clutch pedal. Once you press on the clutch pedal, it starts up again.
Transmission – This car is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission. Thankfully no CVT is available. If you want a CVT with this engine, the Acura Integra is the one to look at.
Back to this manual, The shifts feel slick and there’s a satisfying “click” as the shifter goes into each gear. It feels mechanical and not rubbery like the shifter in the BMW M2. But the clutch is too light. It’s great for daily driving because it won’t make your left leg sore but it doesn’t change resistance as you reach or go past the clutch bite point. Because of this, I found myself over revving the engine when setting off from a stop on a slight incline. The car has hill start assist and it works on steep hills. But on shallow inclines where the system doesn’t engage, I found myself revving the engine to 3,000 rpms by accident because I couldn’t feel where the clutch bite point was.
Finally, this transmission has a rev-match function. This will blip the engine to the appropriate rpms when downshifting. I never noticed any problems even when skipping gears like 6th to 4th. However, if you want to turn it off, it’s not as simple as pushing one button like the auto start/stop. You have to come to a complete stop, engage the parking brake, and then dig through the vehicle settings in the infotainment system to disable the rev-match function.
Braking – The 2023 Honda Civic Si receives larger discs in the front and rear compared to the standard Civic. They measure 12.3” in the front and 11.1” in the back. The brakes are strong and the brake pedal feel is firm. Some may find the brake pedal a tad on the sensitive side but I found it to be just about perfect. The only things that were letting down the braking and handling performance of this demo car were the winter tires. They don’t provide much grip on dry asphalt and I found myself inadvertently tripping the ABS under moderate braking.
Handling – The new Civic Si is a playful car. It likes to be tossed from corner to corner. The steering is sharp although lacking in feel. It’s light in the normal Comfort drive mode and it becomes artificially heavier in the Sport mode. However, at 1,360 kg (2,998 lbs), it’s light by modern day standards which is why it feels so playful.
The car also gets help from a standard limited slip differential when exiting a corner. Plant your foot on the right pedal and the tires grip out of a corner after 1st gear. In 1st gear, both wheels spin off the line. But you can really feel the LSD working as it manages the power.
Ride Comfort – The Honda Civic Si has stiffer suspension compared to the standard Honda Civic, as is to be expected. But the ride has not been sacrificed in the name of sporty driving characteristics. Yes, big bumps feel rough but overall, this is still a comfortable daily commuter.
Further enhancing the ride quality are the superb Civic Si seats. They not only keep you firmly planted around corners but the padding is soft and supportive. They do not have any power adjustments and no lumbar adjustment but some lumbar support is already built into them.
Interior Space – With this new generation Honda Civic Si being bigger, the passenger space is enormous. Front occupants have a lot of space for their legs and heads. The new Civic also has good visibility both over the hood and over the shoulder. In the standard Civic, I found myself having just enough legroom behind my tall driving position. But with the beefier seats of this Si model, my knees felt a bit more squished compared to the regular Civic. But then again, I am above average in height with long legs. Behind the seats, the 2023 Honda Civic Si has 408 L (14.4 cu-ft) of cargo volume with more available by folding down the rear seats.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Sound insulation has been drastically improved in this new Civic over the old one. Engine, wind, and tire noises barely intrude into the cabin when driving around city streets. Road noise is a bit more prevalent on highways. When switching the car into Sport mode, there are “enhanced” engine noises being played through the audio system.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – In Canada, the 2023 Honda Civic Si is considered the top spec trim of the new generation Civic. This is ignoring the very unique Type-R. As a result, it has a price of $35,630 CAD ($29,100 USD). In the United States, the Civic Si is one step below the Touring trim and as such, it is not as expensive but it also doesn’t come as well equipped.
Gadgets – Between both markets, the 2023 Civic Si is equipped with a power sunroof, wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity, automatic climate control, push button start, and keyless entry.
However, in Canada, we also receive heated front & rear seats, heated steering wheel, a 9” touchscreen, and a wireless phone charging pad. We also receive LED shift lights on top of the fully digital driver display. Sorry Honda fans in the United States…
Interior Design – The Civic Si has an interior that is identical to that of the regular Civic with the exception of the bigger seats and the red highlights across the dashboard & door panels. Otherwise, the most used functions have physical controls, the infotainment system is easy to use and I really like the mesh across the air vents. My only concern is with the vent prongs that look like they can easily break with too much force.
Exterior Design – To my eyes, the exterior doesn’t look as exciting as the previous generation. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a bit bland. The previous Civic had interesting lines and shapes in the exterior design. The new Civic has smooth curves – which are not bad – but it looks like it’ll blend in with other cars in a parking lot. I understand that this new Civic is a global car so every country gets the same looking vehicle and thus it has to appeal to a much broader audience. But the design is a bit too far on the conservative scale. The Si receives a small trunk lip spoiler, Si badges, polished exhaust pipes, and unique 18” alloy wheels.
Safety – The 2023 Honda Civic Si is equipped with a lot of safety & driver aids. Unlike Hondas in the past, I have not experienced any issues with false readings when it came to the forward collision alert warning or the blind spot sensors. Lane keeping assist was a bit intrusive during more spirited drives but that was my fault for getting too close to the inside of each corner. The Honda Civic also received a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS.
Warranty – The 2023 Honda Civic Si is covered by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle and 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. For more information on Canadian warranty, click here. For information on USA warranty, click here.
Conclusion – Like the standard Honda Civic, the Si version is a great car. It’s fun to drive, very spacious, comfortable, and reasonably priced. There’s not much more you can ask from a sports sedan like this.
Thank you to Honda Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Honda.ca