2017 Honda Civic Si First Drive: Sport On A Budget

– Cantil, California

I stand by my earlier statement: the 2017 Honda Civic Si doesn’t need more power. It doesn’t need more of anything, really. The intrinsic beauty of the Si is in its balance: It doesn’t overachieve at any one thing, rather, it does everything well. It’s fun to drive – more than its spec sheet would lead you to believe – and still works like a Civic, offering comfort and convenience for easy daily livability.

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan: First Drive
2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan: First Drive
2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan: First Drive
2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan: First Drive
2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan: First Drive

Of course, the fun-to-drive factor is super important here – that Si badge has to mean more than just a well-balanced Civic. You already know the Si uses an enhanced version of Honda’s turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four, with 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. But those numbers only tell part of the story. Did I mention this car also gets 38 miles per gallon highway?

Compared to a standard Civic EX-T, the Si upgrade includes stiffer springs and stabilizer bars, adaptive dampers, and a limited-slip differential. It gets larger 18-inch wheels and wider 235/40-series all-season tires (Goodyear Eagle F1 summer rubber is a $200 option), as well as beefier brakes for better stopping power. The steering has a weightier action, though the 10.9:1 ratio carries over unchanged from the standard Civic. Finally, the car sits five millimeters (0.2 inch) lower to the ground.

It isn’t just a Civic Sport with a little extra power. The adaptive damping really improves the Civic’s chassis.

On an intentionally tricky vehicle dynamics course laid out a...