2022 Honda Civic Si 4DR HPT – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A go-kart masquerading as a family car
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
In spite of its vibrant Blazing Orange ($395) paint, this version of the Honda Civic looks like a normal sedan. Which it is not. It is, in fact, a go-kart masquerading as a family car. You'll discover that truth the moment you grip the SI's beefy steering wheel, cinch yourself into its deeply retentive red and black sports seat, and grip the artfully sculpted shift knob controlling the 6-speed manual gearbox.
That's right, this Civic comes with three foot pedals, and the center one controls the clutch. Of course, you can buy an SI with an automatic transmission, but then you'd be missing half the fun of owning this Honda. I've been driving so many automatic transmission cars lately that I forgot to dip the clutch in the SI at the first stoplight, and almost stalled the engine. But from there on, it was all smooth sailing with the 6-speed, because no one makes a better manual shift gearbox than Honda. Clutch effort is light but finely weighted, with hill stop/start assistance provided to eliminate clutch slip in tricky situations. Throws and gate separation of the gearbox are perfectly aligned for quick manipulation. And a rev-matching feature insures you won't spike the engine to redline when you downshift in a hurry.
The individual gears are perfectly matched to the power and torque bands of the 1.5 liter turbo motor, which produces 192lb.-ft. of torque at just 1800rpm, and 200hp at 6000rpm. That means you enjoy good torque grunt off the line as soon as you drop the clutch. Once engagement is complete, the highly sophisticated turbo sings its way to redline in each gear with a perceptible upper-rpm rush that's enhanced by variable valve timing. All the goodies coalesce to haul the SI from 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds, and zing through the standing start quarter mile in 15 seconds at 94mph.
But beyond the creamy drivetrain, the reason this Civic SI is fast enough to challenge most anything on a twisty backroad or race track is the sophistication of its Honda Performance Tuning suspension design. Fully independent at all four corners, with standard limited slip differential judiciously meting out torque to just the front wheels, the SI clings to the road like a leech. Honda has managed to dial understeer out of the SI handling equation. I found it virtually impossible to dislodge the pavement grip of this Civic. Part of that tenacity is due to the race quality tuning of the suspension, but equal measure is due to the superb grip afforded by the ultra sticky (TW 240) Goodyear Eagle F1 tires (235/40R18) mounted on 18x8J charcoal alloy rims. Although you can choose from 3 different drive modes (Normal, Sport, Individual), I found that no matter where the Mode Dial comes to rest, the SI is more than capable of tackling any road with consummate competence.
But let's assume you don't feel like playing race driver most of the time. Is the SI a good choice as a daily driver? Absolutely. Like the other, less potent models in the Civic line, this one shares all of the hospitality, comfort, and convenience features you've come to expect from this manufacturer. Those race-style front row seats are extremely supportive and well padded in all the right places. A standard Bose Premium Audio system with 12 speakers takes good care of your listening needs, as does a 3-month free subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. The rear seat, which folds flat in a 60/40 split, is fitted with a flip-down center armrest/cup holder, and provides more than enough legroom for long-trip comfort.
We inadvertently discovered a neat feature you might never stumble on with this Civic. After we threw a jacket in the SI's trunk, we couldn't figure out why the trunk lid would not latch, no matter what we did to rectify the problem. Just as we were about to settle for a bungee cord solution, we realized the Honda keys were in the pocket of that coat in the trunk. Your Honda Civic will simply not allow the trunk to latch in this situation.
The 2022 Civic SI is such an intelligently designed four-door, five-seat sedan that you can drive it like a family car 99% of the time, while reserving its remarkable performance envelope for special days at the autocross course or the race track. That this much utility and this much performance costs just $28,910 make the Civic SI my top road burner choice this year.
2022 HONDA CIVIC SI 4DR HPT
ENGINE: 1.5 liter inline 4, intercooled and turbocharged, DOHC, 16 valves, aluminum block and head
TORQUE: 192lb.-ft.@ 1800rpm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 27 MPG City/37 MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $28,910
HYPES: Laser Precise Handling, Great Gearbox
GRIPES: Little Bo Peep Horn
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10