We finally get our hands on the hot shoe version of the iconic compact sedan from Honda
Outstanding 6-speed manual transmission
Fit and finish, ergonomics
Wind, road and tire noise
Uninspired styling of the 4-door
2014 Honda Civic Si
Despite getting a fairly extensive makeover in 2013 that included a new dash, beefed-up front end and revised front and rear fascias, the Civic Si, the most entertaining model of the bunch, gets 4 more horsepower and an additional 4 lb.-ft. of torque courtesy of a new exhaust system for the 2014 model year.
Outside, the Si remains the most aggressive-looking Civic – the Coupe more so than the somewhat bland-looking sedan. This is faint praise considering the competition the model faces that includes both the Ford Focus and the Mazda Mazda3. But even though styling is very subjective, you can put me in the camp with those that think the previous- generation Civic looked edgier and more stylish that the current model.
Like the other models in the lineup, the dashboard was completely reworked for 2013 – couched in what Honda terms "revised textures and panel junctions." This means there are soft-touch materials, along with faux carbon fiber accents on the dash that continue along the upper door trim panels with a "stitched look" that matches the stitched "leather-like" door panel inserts. The entire look of the interior puts the Civic at the upper end of the segment.
In typical Honda fashion, all controls are within easy reach of the driver, are very intuitive and operate smoothly. There's also an i-MID gesture-based display with features that include Honda's Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, Bluetooth audio and a rearview camera. The only superfluous feature is Honda's LaneWatch that's a lot more show than go and it can be distracting as it always comes on whenever you touch the turn signal lever. You can even turn it on so it's always displayed on the screen.
Inside you'll find very supportive, well-bolstered front seats with plenty of head, shoulder, hip, and leg room. Meanwhile in back, rear seat passengers are treated to the same 2-tone high-quality fabric seat materials as well as a generous 36 inches of legroom. Cargo volume, at 12.5 cubic feet, is just average for the segment while the rear seats (with a center armrest featuring 2 cup holders) also split and fold flat.
Thanks to a low beltline, cowl, and fairly narrow A- and C-pillars the driver's view out the front, sides and rear three- quarters is excellent. But out the back the high deck lid and large rear spoiler make viewing difficult. Fortunately, a rear camera with guidelines is standard on all Civic Sis, making maneuvering much easier.
On the road
All Si's come with the most powerful engine available in a Civic – a 2.4-liter VTEC inline-4 that produces 205 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque. Rated by the EPA at 22/31/25 city/highway/combined mpg our own observed fuel economy measured 28.8 miles per gallon on the highway and 19.8 mpg in the city in some pretty aggressive driving.
The ride is firm, but well dampened. The steering is sharp and nicely weighted with only a bit of numbness on-center. The close-ratio 6-speed manual shifts so smoothly you'd think it was directly connected to the transmission, while the clutch action is smooth and progressive. Put your foot into the accelerator and the engine responds immediately, easily winding up to its 7,000 rpm redline.
There's also very little body lean in corners and even the all-season tires offer up plenty of grip. The Civic Si doesn't soak up all road imperfections, but the suspension is compliant enough to filter out most of the badness. At the same time, merging onto the expressway is effortless with plenty of power on tap for passing. At highway speeds the Civic Si feels well planted – you always know where you are. The brakes on the Si are also on par with the best in the compact segment. They're powerful, easy to modulate and there's plenty of feedback through the pedal.
From the 2013 model on up, stiffer wheels and front springs and a new front stabilizer bar with Teflon-lined mountings allow for flatter cornering. The rear suspension also gets a thicker stabilizer bar, increased spring rates and reworked suspension bushings to increase both bump and roll-motion stiffness. Honda also re-worked the electronic power steering system last year for reduced friction and a quicker steering ratio.
Honda has done a good job of keeping interior noise levels down, but like most compacts, especially at freeway speeds there is a fair amount of road and wind noise that makes its way into the cabin.
Equipment and pricing
Civic Si models are available as either a coupe or sedan. The coupe comes in 4 variations – base, with summer tires, with navigation or with navigation and summer tires, while opting for the sedan gives you just the first three – inexplicably you can't get a 4-door from the factory with both navigation and summer tires.
Standard equipment includes, among other things, a power moonroof, fog lights, rearview camera with guidelines, power windows, locks and outside mirrors, Bluetooth streaming audio and phone capability, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedals and a 360-watt audio system.
Pricing starts at $23,580 for a base Si coupe and can top out at close to $29,000 for a fully-accessorized 4-door with navigation. Our tester lacked only the multitude of available accessories with a base price of $24,490 plus $790 in destination and handling charges adding up to a total MSRP of $25,280.
The Bottom Line
There isn't a whole lot not to like about the latest Civic Si. The ride may be on the firm side, but there's plenty of suspension compliance. The engine offers up plenty of power and the torque peaks at just 4,400 rpm, while the limited- slip differential keeps torque steer under control. Topping it all off is one of the sweetest 6-speed close-ratio manual transmissions on the market.
On the other hand, the latest Si is something of a compromise, lacking the edginess of previous models while still retaining a ride that many drivers might still find too firm. There's also a fair amount of wind, road and tire noise that finds its way into the cabin at freeway speeds.
The bottom line, however, is that the Honda Civic is still one of the nicest performance cars in the compact segment. Pair that with Honda's reputation for quality and reliability and the result is a combination that's hard to beat.