The Honda Civic Si underwent a big change under the hood in 2012 when the current ninth-generation Honda Civic Si was introduced, stirring up some controversy amongst enthusiasts. For the first time in the venerated tuner-car-of-choice’s history, it would have a relatively large displacement of 2.4 litres – up from the previous gen’s 2 L – meaning more low-end torque. However, it also meant a lower 7,000 rpm redline instead of 8,000, which had many worried if all the fun had been sapped out.
Is it still fun? Yes. But it’s also a very different animal compared to previous Si’s, including the last model that I happened to own (2009 Si sedan). From an aesthetic standpoint, the odd-looking ninth-gen sedan wasn’t well met during its debut prompting a drastic exterior refresh after only one model year.
For 2014, it was the coupe’s turn for a mid-model refresh. Gone is the old front end with the Audi-like front bumper opening, replaced by a new fascia that features a grille that connects with the more aggressive headlights and big angular brake ducts underneath. The side mirrors also look more sleek, and the rear bumper now sport integrated reflectors and a small black diffuser.The body panels remain curvy and look like they probably cut through wind resistance well, and Honda says they are made from a high-strength and lightweight steel that increases rigidity. Everything is fit onto an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) II structure underneath that is supposed to be safer by dispersing energy from frontal collisions.
Sitting inside the new Si made me nostalgic about my old one – I was glad to see that the sporty red stitching on various interior bits like the shift boot were still there, and they finally added some onto the steering wheel too that is only logical. The soft-touch plastics on the dash and door panels add a touch of luxury, as does the navigation system that comes standard on all Si’s since there is only one trim level.
Driving-wise, updates from the former offering include a quicker-ratio electronic power steering setup, stiffer front springs and thicker front and rear anti-roll bars with new Teflon-lined bushings. That should translate into better handling, and the Si is indeed sharp in the corners. Earlier in the year, Honda held a performance driving event where I was able to take the Si around a tight parking lot course and it glided around all the cones with minimal fuss.
The gripe I have doesn’t lay with the new 2.4-litre motor that nets only five more horsepower than the previous version (four more than last year due to a retuned exhaust system) despite increasing torque to 174 lb-ft (also four more than last year) from 130. It’s not even necessarily that the redline is lower. What irked me was the ear-piercing sound that used to be produced from the engine when one reaches somewhere north of 5,000 rpm – signaling the engagement of the VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system – has been reduced to a tiny whine. I acknowledge that the new Si is by all measures faster and more efficient, but the boy racer in me certainly misses that feature.