2013 Honda Civic Si new car reviews

Honda's Civic Si has tons of history. All the way back to 1986, this platform has offered quickness, lightness and good fuel economy for budget-minded enthusiasts everywhere. Today, it packs quite a bit more punch—and torque—than previous versions to hit our shores. Its 2.4-liter engine makes 170 ft.-lbs. of twist. How does it stack up in today's market? Read our staff opinions below.

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Other staff views

Alan Cesar Alan Cesar
SuperDork

The Civic Si has failed to keep up with the competition. It doesn't offer enough power, enough lightness, enough refinement, or enough fuel mileage to nose ahead in today's very crowded performance-compact market. What else can you get for $22,515? A Ford Fiesta ST, which is both significantly lighter and has more torque; a Mini Cooper with thousands to spare (or a Cooper S for just $800 more); or a Fiat 500 Abarth, which oozes style and is much more engaging to drive—never mind the fuel mileage.

The difference becomes more stark when the price jumps to our as-tested model, equipped with navigation. It's fighting with the Focus ST and Mazdaspeed3—both of which carry a 100 ft.-lb. torque advantage—and the refined, understated VW GTI.

In terms of style, it feels stuck appeasing to Fast & Furious, Street Glow-equipped fanboy obsession. The gauges are cheesy faux-high-tech. There's a VTEC gauge to tell you... uh, how much VTEC you're using. The roofline exposes the aluminum shifter to direct sunlight, meaning it'll sear your palm if you touch it when you go for a drive on your lunch break. I'm just 5-foot-9, and my hair's touching the headliner. What's with those VTEC stickers on the side? Those went out of style 10 years ago.

The gas mileage is disappointing, and the coupe shape is useless. The hot hatch segment is very strong today. This Civic Si needs some time with P90X—either for weight loss, or more muscle—before it can be considered a real contender.

Tom Suddard Tom Suddard
Associate Editor

The Civic Si is a good car, but it's just not a great car.

For the past few decades, "good" has been enough to compete in this segment. But with cars like the Fiesta and Focus ST, the Kia Forte, and the Hyundai Veloster, the Civic has finally met its match–and lost.

The Si just feels, well, old compared to its competitors. It's missing a layer of comfort, refinement, speed, agility, technology, and everything else. This felt like a second-tier car that someone would buy because they couldn't afford the competition, but that isn't (and never has been) Honda's brand or pricing strategy.

Overall, I'm both impressed and disappointed. Impressed that econoboxes have come so far in the past few years, and disappointed that Honda hasn't stepped up with them.

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

This latest Civic is no longer a small car. I parked it next to an E36 BMW, and found that this Honda is taller, wider, and within a couple of inches in length of the mid-sized German. With this extra size it should come as no surprise that the new Si's curb weight it also within spitting distance of the BMW. Unfortunately, as the once-beloved Si has grown, it has also lost it's zing.

While the engine sounds willing, and the gearbox snicks into gear with the traditional Honda delicateness--- the powertrain is simply overwhelmed by the additional mass. All Hondas used to have low cowls which gave even their most pedestrian models a thrilling view of the road ahead. Sadly this is no longer the case, and the new Si feels isolated, and big in every way. Compared to the nimble new kid on the block--- the FR-S / BRZ the Civic feels like a cumbersome whale of a car.

Don't get me wrong, the Si is a good car. It will doubtlessly provide thousands of miles of trouble-free service. The tragedy is that the Civic Si used to be fun. Over time the fun has been sucked out, leaving a smoothly adequate car, but nothing more. Once the Civic Si was a giant-killer......now it's just a giant--- and not a very attractive one at that.

Forget about this car going head to head with the WRX, BRZ-FR-S, or Focus ST-- as it is hopelessly outmatched. Think of it more as a competitor to a base Focus.....but even then the Ford provides a more satisfying driving experience. As time as advanced, so has the competition and sadly the Civic Si has gone backwards. Although more powerful than ever before, it's also less fun than it once was.

It's a rough market out there, and merely adequate doesn't cut it anymore. Hopefully when it's time for a new Civic, Honda will return to it's roots. As it stands, it's hard to see this car appealing to anyone other than hard-core Honda fanbois.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

First, the usual disclosure: I'm a Civic Si fan and still own one. I know that the latest one has gotten some knocks for being a bit too soft, but for a daily driver that can still dish out an autocross or track day, I'm still picking this one as a strong contender.

Yes, more powerful options still exist. Know what, though? The Civic Si a nicely balanced car. Plus I'm digging the slightly revised interior.

Scion FRS? The Civic Si has a nicer interior.

Fiat 500? Sorry, ever take one on a long trip?

Mazdaspeed3? Hello, torque steer?

Kia Forte Coupe? Not currently available.

VW GTI? Close but still not the same.

Ford STs? Those I still gotta drive--we'll put them in the "maybe" class.

For me, the biggest debate might be two doors or four. Considering that the weight gain and price differences are so minor, I'd probably go with the four-door sedan.

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