Somewhere along the way, amidst the hustle and bustle of the Type R madness that seems to have completely stolen the spotlight from just everything else Honda-related recently, we seemed to, ironically enough, forget about the rather unforgettable Si. Honda wasn't really helping matters any in that they didn't have any specific info about the upcoming Si's engine, chassis type or, more importantly, whether or not we'd actually see an Si model mixed in with the 10th gen Civic offerings - a family unit that currently offers more siblings than any other Civic generation.
Earlier this year we finally got word that the Si was in fact in the pipeline and was likely to show its face not long after the CTR Prototype hit the Paris Auto Show's red carpet for its global debut. Here we are just a few months later and, as promised, the big reveal is here. And before you say it, I know what you're thinking. Shouldn't the Si go first, saving the best for last with the Type R? Perhaps...
By unleashing the Type R global model in Paris, at SEMA and now at the LA Auto Show, Honda has cleverly created such a stir that their already stellar sales numbers for the 10th gen Civic are going to get the rub from the Si's release. So now you have the entry-level sedan, coupe and hatchback buyer and the potential Type R customer that wants one as soon as they become available, and then you have the "other guy." This person doesn't want the base model because he wants more performance, but isn't going to shell out the funds to jump into a Type R, so what do you offer them? The best possible model option between the base and upper echelon Type R with this new Si.
Here's where things get a little tricky, at least, if you're Honda. You want the Si to outperform the base, EX and sport/touring trim levels, but you don't want it to flirt too much with the CTR, in order to maximize sales on all levels. Also, you want the Si to stand out in the largest multi-model offering of any of the Civic's 10 generations.
So, how do they do it? For starters, they're kicking things off with a coupe chassis for the Si. I think many people expected the hatchback to do the heavy lifting on this one but instead; Honda opted for a combination that has worked wonders for them ever since the highly praised EM1 was unleashed back in '98. Expect a sedan offering to accompany the Si coupe's release as well. Recent sales metrics show that people do in fact want a 4-door Si based on the popularity of the 8th and 9th gen sedans.
"It's the most powerful Si yet" That means the upcoming Si should be equipped with well over 200hp produced by a direct-injection, dual VTC, 1.5L turbo mill. The moans and groans from the enthusiast circle were never louder once that info from began surfacing. Why people are complaining about the size of an engine that produces more horsepower and torque, much more efficiently, is beyond me, but the "bigger is always better" routine is a clear indicator that the automotive education of younger generations is in dire straits. I blame you, Instagram. Think about it, you're telling someone that a new, smaller displacement engine produces more power and torque than its predecessor, and their rebuttal is, "yeah, but old one bigger. Bigger better. Want bigger." See what I mean? But Grimlock-esque comments aside, the upcoming Si will harness its yet unreleased power numbers with a factory LSD, while an active suspension and steering set up promise to make this the best handling Si of all time to boot.
When I stepped inside the cabin and plopped down on the red-stitched, Si-specific seats (a look that carries throughout the entire interior, from door panels to shift boot), I gave a nod to what I feel is a more ergonomic-friendly interior. A little more simplified and a lot more, ehh, I hate to use the word, but it really does make sense here: organic. The steering wheel controls are still intact, but those random floating vents that seemed to be slapped on at the very last minute of production in the 9th gen, are more refined and blend in nicely to the multi-layer dash. The high contrast infotainment screen is all but standard nowadays and the Si's system is no different.
Listen, I get it. You want a mid-90s, super lightweight Civic with a virtual bottomless pit of aftermarket options. You want it stripped down to its bare bones and you want it now. Here's the thing, and this is going to shock the hell out of you: people that buy new cars to get to work everyday or haul their 1.5 kids to and from school, the park and far too many extra curricular activities actually want things like modern safety, air conditioning and a vehicle that doesn't look like it's from, well, the 90s. I get it, trust me, no one loves 90s Hondas more than me, but you have to understand that the majority of people you hear complaining about a small engine, a car's design, how Honda "should have" built this or that, are not even in the market to purchase a new car. When the new Civic arrived and people said that Honda lost is way, they probably didn't expect the 10th gen to break sales records, nab a North American Car of the Year award and set them up for another record breaking year on the horizon. Most doubted that the Civic Type R would ever consider touching down in the U.S, and even fewer expected a 1.5L turbo Si to produce more power than the outgoing 2.4L from the 9th gen, but that's sort of Hondas thing, doing the unexpected and surprising people. You know, the same way that little economy car of yours is able to surprise people with much more expensive machinery.
Whether you're on board or not, the new Si and Type R are a done deal, and on the way. If you think back to when the *insert any generation Civic here* was first introduced, you probably shook your head and said the old one was better. After some time, it started to grow on you and it eventually just became a part of the family. Do yourself a favor, give it some time and let's see what can be pulled out of these vehicles as enthusiasts start to tinker with them. You never now, they might surprise you...