Strengths and weaknesses:
- exterior styling
- interior space
Thoroughly civil Civic
Despite a rev-happy engine with an 8,000 RPM redline, smooth six-speed manual transmission, limited slip differential and in-yer-face rear spoiler, the 2009 Honda Civic Si just doesn’t seem to have the stuff to get the heart racing as do its competitors. And by ‘stuff’ we mostly mean ‘power’.
For the Honda faithful, the Si is a wonderful little sport coupe (or, for the exact same price, a sedan if you value convenience over style) that is sure to provide some stirring moments. And it certainly has a price advantage over most of its competitors, starting at under $27,000.
Where it unfortunately falls woefully behind is in terms of power - 139 lb.-ft. of torque? Really? That’s significantly less than a PT Cruiser. Yikes. Even then, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS is about $1,000 less, has a lot more horsepower, and a lot LOT more torque. Sure, the SS may not be the first vehicle people will think of when they’re looking for a sporty little coupe, but if you want more dollar-for-dollar power, it’s no contest.
And yes, the Mazdaspeed3, Subaru Impreza WRX, Mini Cooper S, and Volkswagen GTI all cost a few thousand more, but it may just be worth the extra few hours of work a week to get something with oodles more power.
The Si does handle itself well though. It’s low to the ground and very light, making it great for pushing around corners. Steering is nice and precise and it doesn’t dawdle when you point it where you want it to go. One of the nice things about not having a ton of power is that torque steer - more prevalent on front wheel drive cars - is never a problem.
And those who simply love to hear the engine hit the highest of revs will be absolutely captivated by the little inline-four housed under the Si’s hood.
Step inside a Civic Si without looking at the exterior, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for any other Civic trim level. The Si gets an aluminum shift knob with leather, along with red-stitched sport seats, but besides that, it’s all pretty tame. The two-tier dash still looks quasi-futuristic after all these years, but you can find that in any Civic. Buttons are big and easy to find, which we suppose is appreciated. But the interior could still stand a little more pizzazz.
The sports seats look a little snazzier, but aren’t epic in their ability to hold the driver and front passenger in place. Up to three people can fit in the rear quarters, but even two people will be cramped back there. Head room and leg room definitely are at a premium.
Interior space may not be numero uno on the list of what buyers in this segment are looking for, but considering just how tiny the Si is compared to much more versatile hatchbacks like the Mazdaspeed3 and Impreza WRX, it loses out here as well. The Si does get fold-down 60/40 split rear seats for a little extra space when no one is in the back.
Like just about any Honda, the Si trumps most competitors when it comes to fuel economy (again, not sure how important that will be to the buyer looking in this segment), but even then, remember that Cobalt SS? Yup - better on fuel.
The Civic Si could use a little more power, as well as some added personality to help separate it from its plain-Jane brethren. It’s a comfortable, fuel-efficient, low cost alternative to pricier sport compacts. Guess it all depends on how important the former two are on your list.