Everyone wants to get their hands on the Honda Civic Type R, but its turbo engine and boy-racer looks don't come cheap. There is, however, a solution for Americans who can't stretch their budget. It won't be causing the Type R any trouble on the drag strip, but the Civic Si promises three-quarters the fun at a fraction the cost.
Old-fashioned fast Hondas were all about revs, but the performance world has moved on from there. Forget ragging a naturally aspirated engine to redline, nowadays it's all about torque, and the best way to add torque is with turbos. Gone is the naturally aspirated engine from the last Si, replaced with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four making 205 hp (153 kW) of power and 192 lb.ft (260 Nm) of torque. That puts it right in line with the Hyundai Elantra Sport, and just short of the VW Jetta GLI for power and torque.
Power is put the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox which, if past Honda gearboxes are anything to go by, should be an absolute joy to operate. No automatic will be offered, meaning anyone averse to using their left leg will need to wander into a VW dealership and ask for the dual-clutch Jetta GLI instead. Alternatively, those people could take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask why they want an automatic hot hatch.
To make sure the extra power can be put to good use, the Si has been fitted with adaptive steering, a stiffer suspension with adaptive dampers, a proper helical limited-slip diff and bigger (12.3-inch/31-cm) front brake discs. The whole package sits on stickier, wider 235/40 tires as standard, but track-focused rubber is also on the options list. Honda has even managed to nick the stabilizer bars, compliance bushings and upper control arms from the Type R. Sounds like a tasty recipe.
Given how wild the Civic Type R looks, the Si is surprisingly subdued on the outside. The design team has slapped on a set of alloys, slotted in a wider bumper, attached a new exhaust and, well, that's about it. Thankfully, the tuner market should be able to solve that with a range of suitably gaudy lights, spoilers, wheels and wings.
It's basically standard Civic inside, too. Beyond some racy red stitching, the changes are limited to a set of new bucket seats and a chunky metal gearknob. All the tech from the regular car carries over, which means the central touchscreen is home to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda will be unveiling the Civic Si at the New York Auto Show, which kicks off on April 14. Prices will start in the "mid-US$20,000" range. You can check the car out in the video below.