It takes a special mindset to really turn on the fun in the Civic Si. Running the engine to the 8000-rpm redline is hardly a natural action. Sure, the 2.0-liter is smooth and quick to rev, but you certainly feel like you're calling a lot of attention to yourself (especially in a bright red car) with your foot planted for so long as the howling engine announces your juvenile maturity to anyone within a half-mile.
Then there's the matter of keeping the revs in the powerband. With other sport compacts you're typically playing at 4000 rpm as you whip down a curvy road. In this Civic, you'll want to make that 6000 rpm to stay on top of the VTEC power boost. It's a totally different driving experience, but it sure is rewarding when you keep the revs at the top of the tach.
The Si also shines for its tag-team steering and handling duo. The wheel effort is fairly light, but in a tribute to the S2000, dialing in a steering input always places the car right where you expect. Turn-in is shockingly quick, and the car remains composed and balanced at all speeds up to the limit. This light and nimble package provides some of the best front-wheel-drive cornering you can find.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor