The speculation, rumors, and hearsay can now officially quiet down and make room for heated comments and the all-but-guaranteed trash talk. Honda officially pulled the veil off of the 2017 Civic Si, based on the 10th generation Civic chassis in both coupe and sedan form.
Before I go any further with this, here’s what you’re looking for: the power output is officially 205hp, 192 lb.-ft. of torque. If you haven’t already thrown your phone or smashed your keyboard in frustration at the fact that horsepower output for the eighth iteration of Honda’s Si line is on par with the previous generation’s K24, you’re not alone. Social media has been buzzing ever since the Si was first announced and demands asking for at least 250 hp, along with the requisite “it better be AWD or else” statements could be seen far and wide. With an MSRP estimated in the mid-20s, the Si will land, as expected, in between the standard and sport model and the long lusted after Type R.
When the Si prototype first surfaced, I wrote many people would be angry about a smaller engine, but also that its efficient nature might change some minds, if given a chance. I was roasted for those comments. I mean really roasted, a number of times, and I accept that, but also stand by my comments. My point was that we didn’t have enough experience with the new Si engine (using the new math, carry the 6, divide by … the answer is zero; all of us have had zero experience with it) to know what the ceiling is or how it will react to modification. Yes, going from a 2.4L mill to a 1.5L seems like a huge step backward; however, when you look at the facts that lie just beyond the glitz of peak numbers, there are some interesting things to note.
First, though, the 1.5L is obviously quite a bit smaller than its K24 sibling while it produces almost 20 additional lb.-ft. of torque, and that grunt comes on 2,300 RPM earlier than the 2.4L. More importantly, it holds that increased torque for over 70 percent of the rev range. In addition, that conservative 205hp that will undoubtedly cause a disturbance in the automotive web-iverse as people talk incessantly about how their highly modified Honda makes that much power in its sleep, also arrives quite a bit earlier than the previous generation – by about 1,300 RPM. That power is applied to the pavement via Honda’s helical limited-slip differential.
As promised, a short throw, six-speed transmission will accompany both the coupe and sedan versions of the Si. In addition to that promise, Honda noted back in November the Si would handle better than any other Civic model. A tall order when you factor in the ’99 Si, the darling of the lineage, consistently praised for its rev-happy power plant and sharp handling. With two driving mode options, Normal and Sport, the driver can opt for a stiffer suspension that’s accompanied by steering and throttle response changes. Will they outshine the late ‘90s coupe? Nobody knows – yet.
Not far off from the initial prototype, the production version is definitely in the same ballpark. Both the coupe and sedan are fitted with 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels wrapped in 235/40s. A generous helping of black trim is used up front, a welcome addition in lieu of plastic chrome. And while the sedan’s rear is adorned with more of a decklid finisher, the Si features a raised rear spoiler and both chassis are fitted with a somewhat controversial center-exit exhaust. Also in the rear, something most probably took notice of right away between the two models, is the difference in rear bumper grill garnish. The sedan carries large inserts just under each taillight, while the coupe relies on much sleeker openings at the bottom of the bumper – a subtlety I really appreciate about the coupe.
In addition to the active dampers, the new Si relies on stiffer springs and stabilizer bars that are 30 percent larger up front and 60 percent larger in the rear. 12.3-inch rotors help keep things under control, and although the chassis is considerably more rigid than its predecessor, it’s also significantly lighter. Production of the U.S.-bound Si chassis will take place in Ontario, Canada, while the engine will be produced in Honda’s largest automotive engine plant located in Anna, Ohio.
So what does all of this mean to you, an enthusiast who’s been around the block and knows quite a bit about performance and tuning? Well, if you can get around the fact the engine is considerably smaller, you might be somewhat interested in what the Si offers and what kind of potential it has in store once people start tinkering. Speaking frankly, I’ve been a Honda enthusiast for many years and I’ve seen the various Civic generations arrive and depart, and unless there’s been some magical, overnight change in the universe, the newer gen Civic will always take a little while to grow on people. This new model is a departure from the conventional thinking that has surrounded Honda’s Si lineup over the years. We saw the snappy, high-revving power plant start to fade away with the previous generation, and now the naturally aspirated element has been completely wiped away and displacement is on par with the earliest Si generations. However, with modern turbo technology, Honda looks to enter a new era. Some say it’s about damn time, while others say it’s the wrong direction and that Honda has lost its way. Regardless of which side you fall on, the Si is here, and beyond the upcoming Type R promises to outperform every Civic ever created – as it should based on simple progression. More useable power packed into a lighter chassis with better handling doesn’t seem like it’s headed in the wrong direction at all, but like so many models of the past, only time will tell.