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Motoring: New Civic Si impresses under the hood

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | October 6th, 2008

With the way gas prices are, many people are predicting that it will result in the death of sportscars. People are turning their focus to efficiency over fun, after all most fun cars are also gas guzzlers.

However, Honda believes it can offer you both, a fuel-efficient practical car and a fun sports car all rolled into one. The end result is the Civic Si sedan.

The Civic Si has been around for a few years, but it was originally introduced as a coupe. Now you can have that high-revving motor in a more practical body.

So while from the outside it looks like a regular Civic sedan with some nicer wheels and a body-kit, it is the change under the hood that sets this one apart.

The engine in question is the 2.0-litre, 16-valve, i-VTEC, four-cylinder engine, which also boasts double over head camshafts. This motor revs to 8000rpm and produces an incredible 197hp, along with the best exhaust note I have ever heard from a four-cylinder motor. Mated to a manual six-speed gearbox, this car is ready for fun the minute you turn it on.

This Civic Si is all the fun car you will ever need, because it just does almost everything you want it to. That engine revs like nothing else, and the noise it makes will put a smile on your face every time you push it into the VTEC-zone (past 6000rpm).

This engine is so good in fact, that when a few weeks ago I was driving around in the near $400,000 Bentley Brooklands coupe, the guy from Bentley asked me what is in my mind the best engine in the business, I replied, the 2.0-litre Civic Si engine.

Honestly, this engine is phenomenal. I know the BMW 3-litre, twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder engine has won International Engine of the Year for two years running, and it is a great engine, but my vote has to go to this Civic Si motor. This manages to provide you with all the fun you can ask for, while also averaging nine litres/100km (10.5-litres/100km if you really start enjoying yourself).

So it is a fun car to drive, thanks to its engine and its wonderful six-speed manual gearbox. But there is more to this car than just fun, it is practical too. Based on the regular Civic sedan, it has enough room for five people, and its enormous trunk would easily swallow all the luggage you might want to carry. The driver still gets the same instrument pod as in regular Civic's, but now the dials glow red. The front seats are a big improvement over the stock Civic with sportier seats that hug you in all the right places.

So the Civic Si is a big improvement over the regular model, but how does it compare with the now deceased Civic Si coupe?

Well the fun factor is the same for the most part, but the only difference I could see was with the handling. The coupe having a shorter wheelbase and a stiffer body resulted in better handling. Not to say the Si sedan doesn't handle well, just that it doesn't handle as well as the coupe.

But that should not put you or anyone off from buying one. This is a great car and would make you smile every single day. Plus, with prices starting at $26,680 it is not expensive either. So if you want a fun car that is good on gas, this is as good as it gets, for now.
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