The headlining change for the 2012 Honda Civic Si is that the old 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has been replaced by a 2.4-liter engine. I was one of the people who expected that the switch from a high-strung, 8000-rpm four to a larger, torquier engine would ruin the character of the Si, but it really hasn't. The new four is still a rev-happy engine that encourages you to run it up toward the 7000-rpm redline, and to blip the throttle heartily on every downshift. And of course, the extra 31 lb-ft of torque makes the new Si feel gutsier and easier to drive.
No, the Honda Civic Si isn't as comfortable or polished as its archrival, the Volkswagen GTI, but it is equally thrilling to drive. The snarling engine note, precise six-speed gearbox, and taut chassis make even the most mundane commute feel like an autocross course. Model-year 2012 also brings refreshed styling for the Civic lineup, which has the Si coupe looking sportier than the 2011 model. With snug bucket seats, shift lights, and a new trunk lid spoiler, the Si feels like a boy-racer's dream -- so it's perfect for a 22-year-old like me.
If I had to quibble, I'd say first gear has too short a ratio, necessitating an upshift to second gear far earlier than I'd like. It's also a bummer that the Civic Si isn't available as a hatchback, and that it lacks gizmos like keyless ignition and a backup camera, which are available on many other new small cars.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
I've spent two different weekends now in the Civic Si. It's a cute car that gets lots of looks, and I love the rust exterior and black interior combination -- very sharp. Both weekends were airport runs, and the trunk as well as the back seat proved to have ample room for all our stuff. I was a little surprised by how quickly the Si drained its tank, and I was not even hot-dogging it. Also, there's quite a lot of road noise on the freeway -- I'm not sure if it was the all-season tires or if it's really the car. The Civic does have one of the better antennas for the satellite radio and carries the signal in areas where other cars frequently drop it. As Jake mentioned, however, some of today's popular options, like a back-up camera and keyless ignition, are missing here.
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director