By Cars.com EditorsOctober 31, 2011
About the video
Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2012 Honda Civic Si. It competes with the Toyota Corolla and MazdaSpeed3.
<v Announcer>Cars.com auto review. (energetic upbeat music) for cars.com. Honda redesigned the Civic for 2012 to be a little bit softer than the car it replaces. It's comfortable, it's quiet, it's got a little bit of a cushier highway ride now.
Unfortunately, a lot of that carries over to the racier Civic Si and I wonder if performance enthusiasts won't like that. We cover the new year Civic's styling and interior cargo area in another video, so be sure to check that out on cars.com. Here, we're gonna talk about what sets the Si apart and cover how it drives. Changes outside to the Si include 17-inch wheels, front fog lights, and a unique rear deck lid spoiler. Inside, the Si's bolstered cloth seats hold you in better than the regular Civic seats, but their backrests don't conform as well as those seats, which are pretty comfortable. Other changes include aluminum pedals, a red-stitched leather steering wheel, and a power monitor in the car's information display that shows the percentage of total horsepower generated by the engine. In place of last year's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the new Si has a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. Horsepower climbs to 201 from 197 in last year's Civic Si, and the engine tops out around 7,000 RPM. Last year's Civic Si topped out around 8. The 2.4 isn't as fun to kind of wind out to its highest revs as the old 2.0-liter was. In that engine, you'd get to the higher lift cams in Honda's legendary VTEC valve lift system, and there'd be kind of an extra rush of power. There's actually a light that lights up on the dashboard now that tells you when that's happening. Unfortunately there's not as much high rev magic. The torque changes a lot. It's now through 170 lb-ft at a lower RPM than before. That's up 31 lb-ft of torque from the old 2.0-liter Civic Si. What that means is around town, you have a lot more power moving off the line. You've got more highway passing power, too. The only transmission available is a 6-speed manual. It's pretty easy to shift with reasonably clean throws and a light clutch. Unfortunately, the brake pedal and the gas pedal are a little bit too far apart to do easy heel and toe rev match shifting as you're coming down in speed. And the revs don't fall all that quickly, which we wish they did. The steering is pretty light. It's actually lighter than we'd expect for a performance car. The problem is the car's balance. Despite having a limited slip differential as standard, the Civic feels really nose-heavy. The front end kind of pushes a lot as you get into corners, feels really skittish. It's hard to kind of bring it back in line. There's also a lot of body roll. As far as good things, the brakes have a nice solid feel. There's a linear pedal here, easy to stop the car. There's also decent ride quality for what this is. It sops up bumps okay. Could do a little bit better isolating the cabin on the highway, but overall not a bad setup there. The Si comes as a coupe or a sedan, and either way the car got a little bit softer. So instead of going toward the likes of a Mazdaspeed 3 or even a Volkswagen GTI, Honda kind of went a little bit in the other direction. The Civic Si works as a quicker Civic that's still comfortable, but its merely average reflexes might have a few performance enthusiasts wanting more. <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog, kickingtires.net.