I wasn't sure it was worth my time to test drive this car, but i'm glad I did. I was looking for a sporty second car and chose this over the following vehicles, a low mileage Porsche Cayman, several low mileage Corvettes, Subaru BRZ and WRX, Scion FSR, Ford Mustang GT, and a Mazda Miata. The Si may not have the horsepower as the more expensive cars, but it has enough to be fun and keep you out of trouble and I still get comments on the stock exhaust note. The solid build quality, lack of rattles and other noises, and great Honda reliability make this car a winner. I have owned it for about 18 months and still enjoy it more than any other car I have owned, which have been many. I consistently get 26 mpg in town driving it moderately hard and 32 mpg on the highway at 75mph.
SOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
143 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
129 @ 4,300
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
Not much a driver can do to affect acceleration here, with a CVT and not enough torque to break the front tires' traction. I tried all three forward "gears" (D, S, L) and found S caused the engine rpm to reach redline by 60 mph and hold it there until about 80 mph. There are no distinct gears and no manual-shift mode. Those unfamiliar with this type of transmission might find it odd sounding, as if the transmission is "slipping" gears.
As is typical for this type of car, the first stop was the shortest of four, where moderate brake fading occurs. Each stop was straight and well controlled, however.
Slalom: The Civic's electronic stability control (ESC) is remarkably sophisticated for this class of car. Unlike some other cars that detect aggressive driver input or the outer limits of the tires' grip and clamp down early and hard on the brakes, this car allows a modest amount of play before subtly "trimming" the car's heading with quick and effective dabs of selected brakes. It's obvious this ESC was tuned and optimized to allow for spirited driving. Steering weight is light but precision is very good. Skid pad: Rather than using brakes to affect the car's attitude (as in the slalom), ESC merely breathes off the throttle in this steady-state corner to maintain the skid pad arc without causing the tires to howl or skid. Shutting the system off allows the tires to begin to slide and gain a little more grip in the process. Again, steering feel doesn't really inform the driver in any way, weight remains rather light regardless, and precision is good.