In advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show opening tomorrow, Honda yesterday previewed a prototype of its six-speed manual-transmission Honda Civic Si that soon will be in showrooms and, one imagines, on abandoned stretches of pavement favored by kids who live to rev their engines.
“Though Honda did not share complete details about the car and its engineering in L.A., the automaker did provide enough of a glimpse of what will roll into showrooms early in 2017 to get the salivary glands of sport compact car fans working overtime,” writes Christian Wardlaw for J.D. Power.
“The ‘Si’ in Civic Si is not a Spanish-language affirmation. Rather, it stands for ‘Sport Injected.’ For the last generation or so, the Si wasn't injecting much sport into the Civic lineup as it fell far behind competitors like the Volkswagen Golf GTI — but that's about to change,” explains Andrew Krok for CNET.
The vehicle on display “is the Japanese giant’s version of a serious sports car — right down to the high-performance racing tires and the Rallye Red Pearl paint job,” writes Charles Fleming for the Los Angeles Times.
Why does it matter?
Fleming elaborates: “The Civic is Honda’s bread and butter, a global passenger car juggernaut that has sold in the millions — more than 300,000 of them a year in the U.S. — and the Si is the sporty performance version that brings the Civic sex appeal.”
It is, in other words, the Civic all gussied up for drag night.
Available in both coupe and sedan body styles, it will be “hands down, the fastest, best-handling Si we’ve ever offered to our customers,” according to Honda SVP and GM Jeff Conrad in a release.
“You might think that means the new Civic Si will be powered by a detuned version of the Type-R’s 2.0-liter turbo-four,” — please raise your hand if you do — “but the Civic Si concept actually packs a high-performance version of the turbo 1.5-liter found in higher-trim standard Civics,” writesMotor Trends’ Alex Nishimoto. “In addition to being turbocharged and direct-injected, the Si’s engine sports dual variable cam timing (dual VTC).” Bottom line: it “will have to top the 205 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque of the last Si’s naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4.”
But we’re not just talking performance here.
“The front fascia is equipped with a splitter while the tail has a wing. It also incorporates a center-exit exhaust with a single hexagonal tip,” the Knoxville Daily Sun reports.
And the interior of the prototype “features Si-exclusive front sport seats with red stitching, including stitched Si logos. The red sport stitching carries through to the doors, steering wheel and leather shift boot with aluminum shift knob,” according to Honda. It “also features a red driver's TFT meter and audio system illumination, aluminum sport pedals and Dry Metal Carbon instrument panel trim.”
Patrick George, writing for Jalopnik, begins his review: “There was a time — years ago, you may not even remember it — when people looked to the Honda brand for fun.” He concludes: “Hey, Honda’s doing fun stuff again! There’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
What Honda showed off yesterday is not exactly what will go on sale, however.
“In Honda parlance, prototype means ‘concept car that’s very close to the real thing,’ same as the Civic Type R, NSX and various Acuras before it. Most of the details — including the wheels — of this prototype will carry over to the production version, Honda said,” writes George.
About the latter, they “are 19-inch forged aluminum alloy … shod with 235/35 performance tires,” writes Gerard Lye for PaulTan.org, which said to be Malaysia’s No. 1 source for automotive news. In any event, they look pretty spiffy.
But Road & Track’s Bob Sorokanich has a few words of caution for wannabe engine-revvers out there.
“This won't be the fastest Civic coming to our shores — the Civic Type-R, long forbidden in the North American market, will arrive here sometime in 2017, packing in excess of 300 horsepower and even more go-fast goodies,” he points out. And that spiffy red paint job? It “probably won't be available on the production car.”
The Si “is set to officially launch in early to mid-2017, just ahead of the harder-core, hatchback-only Type R. Needless to say, we can’t wait to get our hands on one,” concludes Tony Markovich for Car and Driver, summing up the aspirations of most of the reviewers.