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First Drive: The 2022 Honda Civic Si Is Down on Power but Still a Blast to Drive

Less power or not, the Si is still a Civic for enthusiasts

  • 200 horsepower, fresh looks and a manual transmission
  • Rev-matching system from the previous Civic Type R is new to the Si
  • Sport-tuned suspension and beefed-up brakes round out the Si package, though the previous Civic Si's adaptive dampers have been dropped
  • Part of the 11th Civic generation introduced for 2022

What is the Civic Si?

Before the Type R came to the U.S. market in 2017, the sportiest Civic that Americans could buy was the Si. Today, the Honda Civic Si is more of a middle ground that bridges the gap between the Civic Sport and the Type R, but that doesn't mean it has lost its luster.

On the outside, the 2022 Si (which will only be available as a sedan) gets slightly more aggressive looks than the normal Civic and an optional Blazing Orange Pearl paint scheme that is exclusive to the Si. Underneath, the obligatory sport-tuned suspension borrows some of its components from last year's Type R, though the fancy adaptive dampers that came with the previous Civic Si are no longer available.

The brakes are also upgraded from the standard Civic specification, measuring the same 12.3 inches up front and 11.1 inches at the rear as the previous Civic Si's stoppers. Covering those brakes are matte black 18-inch wheels from the Civic Sport wrapped in all-season rubber (or summer tires for an extra $200 — which is pretty cheap).

How does the Civic Si drive?

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On the outside, the 2022 Civic looks all-new, but the engine essentially carries over. Under the hood of the new Si is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 192 lb-ft of torque between 1,800 and 5,000 rpm. That power is sent through a limited-slip differential to the front wheels exclusively, just like it ever was.

Si aficionados might be raising their eyebrows right about now, though. The new car actually makes five fewer horses than the car it replaces. What gives? Honda kept the same hardware as the previous model but fussed with the tuning for this generation. The changes lowered the amount of power slightly while keeping the same 192 lb-ft of torque, but the key changes are in how that output gets delivered. Specifically, peak torque comes in 300 rpm lower in the rev range — and lasts till 5,000 rpm (same as before), while the drop-off from peak horsepower after 6,000 rpm is significantly less pronounced.

This change in tuning doesn't completely change the character of the Si, but it does make it better to drive at the limit. Instead of feeling let down after 6,000 rpm, you feel the urge to push the Si all the way to redline — second gear, third gear, right up to the limit before you grab the next one. It's almost like the Civic is nudging you with an elbow every time you bounce off the rev limiter to pack up your stuff and head for the racetrack.

The six-speed manual transmission, which now features the rev-matching function from the Type R, is a particular highlight in the Si. The 2022 model features shorter shifter throws, thanks to some added Type R components, and the shifter action is nearly flawless. The well-weighted shifter knob feels expertly crafted and easy to move. The engagement from each gear, whether you're upshifting or downshifting, is crisp and smooth. If you miss a gear in this thing, it's because you weren't paying attention. Want to drop down a gear for an approaching corner? No problem. Mash the clutch, move the shifter just a short distance and — thwip! — the rev matching rises quickly to the occasion, making you feel like a hot-lap hero, as if you'd learned heel-toe shifting all on your own. 

Want to enter or exit a corner quickly? The Si is good at that too. The steering, while a bit light for a sporty vehicle, is precise. Body roll is minimal, even during multiple changes in direction, and the limited-slip differential helps you control the power as you roll on the throttle while exiting a corner. In short, it's fast, and it's fun to drive fast, and it's easy to drive fast.

How comfortable is the Civic Si?

If you're looking for a practical daily driver with some personality, the Civic Si is an excellent choice. Why? It's more than comfortable enough for your daily errands without sacrificing any performance. The aggressively bolstered seats might look intimidating at first, but they're well padded and lumbar support is adequate. Basically, they hold you in place and they won't beat you up on a road trip — just what you'd want out of performance seats. The ride quality has a similar balance of performance and comfort. Sure, the Si stays flat in corners, but it also manages not to be a mess over broken pavement, which is nice. Gone is the adjustable suspension from previous models, but the nonadjustable suspension on the 2022 Si is still pretty impressive.

How's the Civic Si's interior?

Inside, the Si gets the typical sporty touches. Upgrades from the standard Civic include sportier front seats, red trim sprinkled throughout, and the larger 9-inch infotainment display and 12-speaker Bose audio system from higher-spec Civics. The infotainment system also gets the track apps from last year's Type R, with goodies like a lap timer to help you devour your local autocross course. Like a standard Civic, there's plenty of room up front and in the back for adults.

How's the Civic Si's tech?

Powering the Civic Si's center touchscreen is the same software that's used in the top-trim Touring model. It's a large 9-inch screen that's mounted high on the dashboard close to the driver. It's easy to see, easy to reach out and touch the controls, and it's intuitive too. The screen gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity as standard, an upgrade from lower models that require a wired USB connection to hook up to smartphones. During our short test, Apple CarPlay connected quickly and flawlessly each time we turned the car on and off.

Driver aids including forward collision warning, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control are all standard on every Civic, and that's true of the Si too. Unfortunately, the forward collision warning is aggressively tuned. During some enthusiastic canyon carving (fast back-road driving) the collision warning system set off several false alarms. The other driver aids, however, were relatively well tuned and nice additions on this performance platform.

How economical is the Civic Si?

Fuel economy estimates for the new Civic Si are pretty good given the car's sporty intent. The EPA rates the Civic Si at 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway), which is a 1 mpg improvement in every area compared to the previous Si. It's also a bit more efficient across the board than the Si's longtime rival, the Volkswagen Golf GTI — though the GTI has quite a bit more power. The Civic Si also edges out the similar Kia Forte GT by 1-3 mpg combined, depending on the Kia's transmission.

Edmunds says

The Si may have less power than before, but this sporty sedan has never been about outright oomph under the hood. You still get a sweet-shifting six-speed manual, a limited-slip differential, hot looks and sharp handling. For the weekend warrior who needs a practical daily driver, the 2022 Civic Si strikes an excellent balance between fun and functional. What's not to love?