2012 Honda Civic Si Sedan HPT

Matt Tierney

This car is fast. Well, it feels fast thanks to the fact that the Si is naturally aspirated versus its turbocharged competition. Power comes on quickly and strongly, twitching the front wheels even with just a meager 201 hp (the second-least powerful in the class, ahead of only the 200-hp VW GTI). Sadly, the four-banger sounds quite unrefined until it is wound up to around 5500 rpm where the VTEC kicks in -- then it sings an addicting tune and surges with power all the way to the 7000 rpm redline.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

As Donny says, this Civic Si feels very quick and makes excellent noises so long as you keep the revs high enough to engage the high-lift cam profiles. The buzzy, quick-revving engine encourages downshifts to keep the i-VTEC light illuminated. Overall, though, the drivetrain is a bit of a mixed bag. On the upside, the clutch and transmission are fantastically smooth and precise, real hallmarks of Honda engineering. On the downside, the engine hangs on to revs when you lift off the throttle to shift, which is annoying and means you tend to slip the clutch too much during quick upshifts.

I like my sport compacts to actually look fun and sporty, so it's disappointing that this Si sedan resembles pretty much any other Civic sedan. Sure, it has new wheels and a trunk-lid spoiler, but that's not really enough to make the Si sedan stand out. But the worst offender overall is the horrid radio interface, a panel of flat plastic with unattractive, extra-large buttons arranged in a counter intuitive layout. The passenger side of the dashboard, too, is a boring expanse of flat plastic that makes the Civic Si feel cheap.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

The proliferation of turbocharged engines to which Donny alludes really does make the Civic Si feel like something of a novelty. It snaps in response to the gas pedal in a way few cars of any size and price do any more. The steering is also nice and sharp, though it's surprisingly numb - the CR-Z I'd driven before this provided much more information. And as always, Honda's manual gearbox sets the standard for how shifts should feel. It's clear from all this that Honda engineers still "get" how to make a driver's car. I only wish they were given more to work with. The reality is that the Civic is no longer the class leader. The interior and the styling trail most competitors. On the performance side of things, the four-cylinder, although responsive, isn't as special or racy feeling as some of its predecessors. Having said that, the Si, especially in sedan form, remains a strong choice for the enthusiast who requires a practical, efficient ride.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

Sorry, Jake, but the Si's staid looks are a selling point for me. I'd rather a car feel, not look, sporty. And though it doesn't feel quite as racy as its predecessors (or a few of its competitors), the Si does drive markedly different from the remainder of the Civic range. Impressive steering, along with a delightful shifter and an engine that comes alive when revved to stratospheric heights, makes driving the Civic Si hard rather enjoyable.

There's an awful lot of vitriol online aimed at the new Civic, and I can't understand why. The car may no longer leapfrog its competitors as it once did, but it's hardly uncompetitive or unworthy of consideration. I'm not a fan of the ho-hum interior and dual-layer dash, but my biggest complaint that the Si's suspension tuning is too soft. Volkswagen's GTI seems to walk the line between sport and comfort just a touch better.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

The new Civic Si feels fast enough from behind the wheel, and it gives off a bit (but only a bit) of a sporty air with its rear spoiler and the "i-VTEC DOHC" emblazoned across the rear doors. The new engine in this Si (a 2.4-liter in place of the old 2.0-liter) isn't quite as rev-happy as the previous engine, with peak power coming on at 7000 rpm. The steering is quite good, and the manual transmission's shifter and clutch are well matched. The interior has nicely contoured seats with attractive upholstery that also adorns the center armrest. However, the steeply raked front glass means that the bottom of the windshield is a long way from the driver, and because of that it creates some bad reflections. By day, you can see the reflections of the vents, and by night the gauges are visible in the glass.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

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Thank you, Mr.McCausland, for the nice words about the Civic. I bought a new Civic EX sedan April 24. While it doesn't handle as sharply as the Fit I drove the same day (mom bought it instead!), it was an improvement on my 09 Malibu trade-in. In fact,it was superior. The air conditioning was ice cold within 5 minutes, a feat the Malibu failed during the 2012 summer's miserable 108 temps. The seats are comfortable and nicely finished. The visibility all around is outstanding, also a Malibu sore point. The gas mileage from Oklahoma to Kansas was 41.8, exceeding the EPA rating and the Malibu's best of 31.9. The Malibu also had an oil leak, which my local dealer couldn't pinpoint.Yes, the Civic dash is hard & odd. But it doesn't have the balky transmission and My Ford touch so many have complained about. The Cruze driven at last year's KC car show didn't drive as well & wasn't as comfortable.Yes, the Civic is not like some of its competition. Given high gas prices,it's still a great value & a fine car.
why alot of vitriol aimed at this car mr. McCauslandlet me tell you!this car does nothing spectacular not the best at nothing. The civic SI has always been 100hp per liter this one dosen't have that!(1st big mistake) also it looks like it's 4wd and why do we have to spend more money to get bigger tires their still narrow as hellshould have come with 225/45/17 standard and car lowered from honda (2nd mistake)last but not least this car should look mean, an aggressive which it dont and its way to soft so there you have it, the 2012 civic si gets it ass ticked buy the compentition again!SAD WHAT HONDA HAS BECOMENONCOMPEITIVE, ITS NOT THE BENCHMARK ITS USE TO BE!

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