2010 Honda Civic Si new car reviews

Better than: Just about any small sedan out there
But not as good as: An Integra Type R
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 87.34

The Honda Civic Si is nothing new to the GRM staff, as we acquired our first one back in 1986--at the time the model had just been released, replacing the carbureted 1500S.

The Civic Si has always been the sportiest Civic available here in States, receiving more power, better seats, stiffer suspension and bigger brakes. It's basically aimed right at our market.

The Civic Si recently gained a four-door variant--something totally new for the model line--and we recently spent some time with a navigation packaged-equipped Si while out in California.

Other staff views

Tim Suddard Tim Suddard
Publisher

As a big time fan of the Honda Civic Si since owning the first generation car way back in 1986, I was anxious to get my hands on the newest version. As a guy who is currently in the market for an economical, four door, fun to drive, five passenger car, I was especially happy to be able to test out the four door version of Honda’s latest Civic Si.

My first two impressions were mixed. While I readily admit that I am not as young and as thin as I once was, I felt genuinely old when I found the seat bolsters were hugging me too tightly and the ride was somewhere between stiff and harsh.

After driving all the way from Monterey to San Diego, California on all types of roads for over a week what initially irked me became quite comfortable. I guess you still can teach an old dog new tricks, as I quickly fell in love with the Civic Si. Of course it has Honda build quality, practicality and economy. Fuel mileage reached nearly 30 mpg, while wailing the car for a week. That 197 hp i-VTEC engine screams to an impressive 8000 rpm redline. While torque is nearly nonexistent down low, the engine is silky smooth, makes plenty of power once the VTEC kicks in and sounds more like a Formula 1 car than a practical four door sedan.

Certainly this was a week well spent. The power, handling and agility and just plain practicality of the new Civic Si make it an easy choice for someone living with the reality of a budget and a family. The car is still plenty capable and would be fun at an autocross or track day. if you live where the roads are rough, you might want to live with the Civic Si for a day or two, before you sign up for a multi-year commitment.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Dad let me drive it a little while we were out in Monterey, but I have spent real time with the Civic Si sedan before. I know this will sound biased coming from someone who has owned several Si-badged Hondas, but I really like this car. It's quick, tight and comfortable. Yes, the dash is a little weird, but after a while it works.

During the original press intro we covered many laps at Autobahn, and even on the available tires the car was composed and easy to drive at the limit. The brakes held up, and the car wasn't tiring to drive. Lots of visibility in all directions made the cockpit a relaxing place to operate, too.

The Civic Si also emits a nice bark, unlike most other production cars. I'd say it's possibly the angriest Honda we have seen in a while.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

I know I'm probably going to have rocks thrown at me from all the Honda fans here, but I couldn't wait to get out of this car.

I, too, was out in Monterey, and drove this same Civic Si. Now, to preface, I really like the standard Civic, especially in the very attractive four-door guise. I was really looking forward to the Si, as you would think it would improve on the strengths of the standard car, only amp them up a bit. Unfortunately, the Si is much less enjoyable for me than the regular Civic. Here's why:

The seats were uncomfortable, and I'm not a super-sized guy (5'8", 165 lbs.). I spent a few hours behind the wheel and could never get comfy.

This car is LOUD. Now, I like a rorty exhaust as much as the next guy, and the Si really does scream in VTEC mode. What turned me off was the extreme tire roar and the horrible resonance inside the car at highway speeds. There was an omnipresent drone that was hard to take. The noise, coupled with a very rough ride on imperfect pavement, made the Si a chore to drive.

This, along with the engine's lack of torque, made the Civic less than fun--especially when just slogging along in traffic.

To give the Si its due, it was a pleasure to carve up the Pacific Coast Highway south of Monterey. It hangs on well, has a great gearbox, and like David said, it does have good visibility. I'm not a fan of the sci-fi interior, but I'm sure you'd get used to it eventually.

My biggest problem with this Civic is its competition. I would much rather spend time in a Mazdaspeed3, a WRX or a MINI. Of course the Civic Si isn't a bad car—it is, after all, a Honda—but it sure isn't the car for me.

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Comments

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rwdsport
rwdsport Reader
9/10/09 1:07 a.m.

This is my baby and I have been enjoying every moment with this car since November 08. I actually posted up a pretty long review between this car, the new MX5 and the daily driver at the time (a RHD JDM 1990 Miata). I ended up going with this car... as for the money I did not feel the MX5 was right. It is a bit on the harsh ride, but nothing compared to some of the "tuners" I have driven. I think this car is the best jack of all trades in the sport economy market right now...

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
9/15/09 2:01 p.m.

awww Greg, you're gonna make me blush. Or that redness could be the Honda fanbois choking me!

miwifri
miwifri New Reader
9/21/09 6:11 p.m.

Yup, I think this car embodies the dilemma for the purist in most of us. When I drive my S2000 on long trips my head spins from sensory overload but when I get into the wife's spec b Legacy I'm thinking "this thing is a pig." I'm old but I'd still rather have the snappy suspension and zippy engine.

JohnW
JohnW Reader
10/26/09 9:15 p.m.

Joe -- you're right on the money with your assessment! If I ever buy a new Civic, it will be a 4-door LX with a 5-speed manual. I think it looks better than the Si -- and it's capable of almost 40 mpg on the highway.

I view these cars as nice, sophisticated daily drivers -- not pocket rockets.

ntvinh986
ntvinh986
11/3/09 3:31 a.m.

I hope other members would love to share their great photos and memories this site.


http://animewatching.com

grmjim09
grmjim09
11/24/09 1:46 p.m.

This is a great car! I just purchased an '09 in late July. I am not sure why someone would not like the looks and prefer the standard civic instead. The tiny little wing on the end? The few small badges? Sure as hell doesn't glare "boy racer" at you, yet it has the performance of one, right out of the box. I am happy to have a silver Si, and easily blend in with the other silver Civics and other four doors of the same size. When I drop a gear or two, stomp on the pedal, that is when I stand out of the pack. I do have to agree the view out of the cockpit is terrific, except out of the back. I am still not comfortable looking out the back, and seeing all I think I should be seeing, consequently, I am glancing all around instead. The engine noise is great, I think "angry cat", and if it is a little too much, shift up one gear. I am 6', and there is plenty of head room, and the seats are c-o-m-f-y. Coming from an '00 5 speed Maxima SE (exactly, bet you thought they didn't exist), I love the noises, and the fun. Yeah, you need to use the gearbox more, but that is part of the fun. Talk about the gearbox, its the best I have driven in ages. The slush box is remenicient of my '94 Si hatch (I have owned a '77 Civic CVCC, an '85 Civic, a '94 Civic Si, and now the 8th gen, my first sedan, the rest were hatchbacks). Better than the 6spd in my '01 Miata, definitely smoother, quieter, and easier to find the gears, they fall right in. Sometimes, I miss the "snick", but that's ok, it is still a pleasure to row through the gears.

richard_rsp
richard_rsp New Reader
11/30/09 10:52 a.m.

Ok, I can pitch in here a little. As a previous owner of a 2008 EX Sedan 5-speed and a current possessor of a 2009 Civic Si Sedan, I can directly give an owners perspective on both cars.

The EX Civic was a good car. It has plenty of pickup (as much as my 94 Civic Si), great on gas, and is well designed. However, the shifter feel is notchy (partially due to the horrible plastic shift knob), the suspension is too soft (I'd bottom the rear suspension with 4 people in the car every time), and the on-off action of the Drive-by-wire is particularly amplified (and irritating) at low, "traffic-crawling" speeds: so much that the significant other and I went looking at other cars after only 6 months.

The Si is a much better car. Better Seats (in my opinion), better shifter (by FAR) and easier to drive overall in everyday situations. The fact that my Si only averages 4 mpg less than my EX, has suspension that will tackle mountain curves with attitude, and looks much more sporty are all extra benefits that make the Si that much more of a great buy.

And while I agree that the Si's exhaust has a drone and that WOT is VERY "ticket-me" loud, Joe, I feel that you forgot to mention that both the EX and SI 8th Gen Civics both have excessive road tire noise.

I too had looked at the cars mentioned by Joe, but cost was significantly higher than the Si and each had problems that I felt were not fitting to my needs (ie. WRX - gas mileage, Mini - Size/Carrying Capacity, Mazdaspeed - reliability)

But to each their own. I feel that the Si is an excellent example of practicality, reliability, and sport into a simple, inexpensive package.

richard_rsp
richard_rsp New Reader
11/30/09 12:47 p.m.

Oh, and I think you guys may have been had: I believe that is a 2009 Civic Si Sedan that you tested (or at least photographed).

The 2010 model has a black engine cover instead of the silver like the one in your photos.... (http://automobiles.honda.com/images/2010/civic-si-sedan/features/197-hp.jpg)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
11/30/09 2:54 p.m.

Good catch on the year. We did test an '09. I'll see if I can make the change.

ptrckrichardson5
ptrckrichardson5 New Reader
8/9/10 9:10 p.m.

i love this car! rides, handles and all civic parts great as well. i have had my civic si for almost a year and i must say that when it comes to gas it has given me excellent drive.

Rupert
Rupert HalfDork
8/21/10 9:15 a.m.

Like most people, the entire HONDA product line needs to lose a few pounds. It sadly appears their engineers are doing nothing but bulged up replays now. The NSX, S2000, & the CRX are gone. The CIVIC is bigger than my first ('78) ACCORD & the ACCORD is about the same size as a BUICK!

The only remnants I can find of the old HONDA character are the FIT and the ELEMENT. While slightly taller, this FIT is the direct successor to the old (mid '80s) CIVIC WAGON. It gets over 38mph everyday, handles sprightly, is great fun to drive, runs forever, & carries a world of goods. The ELEMENT was aimed at the beach-bunch but has found a niche with small businesses or people who transport dogs and other dirty items. It's also fun to drive and looks just quirky enough to out quirk the CUBE and the SCION as well.

If only HONDA came to their senses and redid the CRXSI. Even if they didn't make it a true CRX but built it about the same size and capacity as the '80s CIVIC but with a better power to weight ratio, they would find it would appeal to a ton of people. I know I miss my old ('85) CRXSI and would certainly look at a newer version whether it be in CRX or, old, CIVIC bodysize.

Though I'm in my '60s, I'm not old enough for the current CIVIC or ACCORD to be appealing. Nor can I comprehend the thinking involved with the CRZ. It seems to marry all the disadvantages of a small hatchback with none of the positives. As tested so far it is too heavy, has no power, no handling, no room, & no rear vision. Heck the FIT will almost certainly get better real world gas mileage and be much more fun to drive.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter PowerDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

The Honda Civic Si is nothing new to the GRM staff, as we acquired our first one back in 1986--at the time the model had just been released, replacing the carbureted 1500S.

The Civic Si has always been the sportiest Civic available here in States, receiving more power, better seats, stiffer suspension and bigger brakes. It's basically aimed right at our market.

The Civic Si recently gained a four-door variant--something totally new for the model line--and we recently spent some time with a navigation packaged-equipped Si while out in California.

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