The Honda Civic is a nameplate that needs no introduction here in Canada.
A mainstay on our roads since the 1970s, the Civic has been Canada’s best selling passenger car for more than two decades. Making up a fair portion of those sales, and on test this week dressed in Aegean Blue is the 2019 Honda Civic Si Coupe. The Si is a powerful, coveted trim level by enthusiasts that brings along with it all of the joys of owning a Civic without any compromises.
A rarity in the industry these days, the Civic Si is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. The next trim level below it that has a manual option is the nicely equipped Sport (reviewed here). With an MSRP and as-tested price of $29,490 before fees and taxes, the Si trim is a $4,800 premium over the Sport. That price increase is worth it for a completely different car, starting with a different engine producing 47 more horsepower, almost a 30% increase, and adaptive dampers in the suspension to improve handling.
The differences are everywhere, from a more aggressive exterior look including LED headlights and a rear deck-lid spoiler, to tons of extra toys inside the car including heated seats and wireless charging. A premium 452-watt, 10-speaker sound system is also on-board the Si, as well as SiriusXM and Honda’s built-in navigation system. Should you not favour native navigation or connectivity, you can use your own mobile device with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Being a coupe of course means long doors and a slick roofline. Popping your head inside the Si will reveal unique and heavily bolstered front cloth seats with red stitching and embroidered with the Si logo. These seats are superbly comfortable and provide plenty of support in cruising settings as well as during hard cornering. Tilting the seats forward provides access to the rear bench seat that can fit three across. Adults may find it tight with the low roofline, but the Civic is one of the roomier two-doors in its class. Should you require two additional doors on your Si, the sedan comes in at $400 less and is also delightful (reviewed here).
Trunk space is tighter in the Si – all of the extra goodies have to go somewhere. This model nets a cargo volume of 289 liters versus 343 liters in the Sport. The rear seats do fold down in the typical 60/40 fashion, so larger items are no fuss for the Si. On the safety front, all Civic Coupes are equipped with the Honda Sensing technology suite. Some features aren’t present on the Si due to the manual transmission, such as low-speed follow.
At the business end of the Civic Si is the Honda Earth Dreams 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 205 horsepower at 5,700RPM and 192 lb-ft. of torque from 2,100-5000RPM. While not typical of Civics in the past, the turbocharger in this engine is tuned in such a way that it doesn’t feel dramatically different from the naturally aspirated engines in terms of response. It may be boosted, but it still feels very much like a Civic.
Part of that wholesome Civic feel certainly comes from the gearing in the six-speed manual transmission. The clutch pedal is quite light, typical of most manual cars these days, but the shifter itself has a great weight and feel to it. By no means does it feel like something dug up from an old parts bin. One of the greatest improvements the Si gets besides the bigger engine is a helical limited slip differential, similar to the one found in the Civic Type R (reviewed here). The differential is partially made of magic, and keeps torque steer to a minimum while helping to get as much power to the ground as possible.
All of that great performance does come at a cost, of course, as the turbocharged engine requires premium fuel. Thankfully, the Si gets better fuel economy ratings than the manual transmission Sport does, so the premium hit to the wallet at the pumps is softened. Official ratings put the 2019 Civic Si Coupe at 8.4L/100km in the city, 6.2L/100km on the highway, and a combined rating of 7.4 L/100km. With a 46.9L fuel tank, our consumption over the test week came in at 8.2L/100km in optimal weather and driving conditions with a city bias.
Holding the number one sales spot does not mean the Civic doesn’t have great challengers in its own segment, with the Volkswagen GTI (reviewed here), Hyundai Elantra Sport, Ford Focus ST, and the Subaru WRX (reviewed here) all putting up a good fight. The Civic Si is a leader for good reason, with excellent handling, a spacious interior and lots of technology in a package that is perfectly and pleasantly suitable for daily use, not just a day at the track. It’s easily one of the easiest daily drivers to live with, and despite its front-drive nature, makes for exceptional behaviour in all weather conditions.
While it is not the race-ready performance machine that is the Type R, the 2019 Honda Civic Si Coupe strikes a wonderful balance in speed, handling, comfort, driving feel, and most importantly price tag and fuel consumption. It provides some of the same handling tech found in the R, a full five-seat configuration unlike the R’s four, a power boost over the rest of the lineup and fantastic road presence without attracting attention. We call this a win-win, especially in the dashing blue colour.