I will do nothing to hide the fact that I am a huge fan of the Honda Civic, in just about every iteration. Over the span of fifty years (yes, the original Civic was birthed in 1972), it has strived to be a better version of itself, and has become a household name here in North America. The Civic takes the bare-bones compact commuter sedan and adds a splash of passion to make it just a smidge more enjoyable than the competition even in base forms. The eleventh-generation presented itself to us last year, and we were very excited to get behind the wheel of the hotter version. This is the 2022 Honda Civic Si, available only in sedan form at the time of this writing.
Even in commuter spec, the 2022 Civic is an exceptional car. The base price here in Canada has gone up to an eye-watering $24,465, though it’s worth noting that even the LX comes with a plethora of features that do add up to a very competent little sedan. The Si however, is the enthusiast-special, with a still-very-affordable sticker of $33,150. Going head-to-head against the Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Golf GTI isn’t an easy feat, especially considering both of these major competitors are also completely redesigned for this model year.
Only available with a six-speed manual transmission and in front-wheel-drive form, the Civic Si is very obviously a sport compact, a hot hatchback in sedan form. Under the hood lies the same 1.5-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder that Honda has put into just about everything they sell, but it has been massaged for this application. Output is 200 horsepower at 6,000RPM, and 192 horsepower at 1,800 RPM. This powertrain does not have VTEC technology, which Honda fanboys will complain about, but it’s a more modern and lively setup that feels better than the tenth-generation car it replaces.
Power is constantly available when needed, and a limited-slip differential helps keep things in line. The six-speed manual gearbox is a slick unit, one of the best currently offered anywhere in the automotive industry. Shifter throws are very short, and it falls predictably into its gates with a mere flick of the wrist. The clutch takes some getting used to due to its lack of feel, but the Si now offers automatic rev-matching on downshifts. Purists may grumble at this feature, but it’s both defeat-able and a neat little party trick to have, especially in rush hour traffic.
The new Civic Si is nearly a half-second quicker to 100km/h than the regular Civic Hatchback with the same transmission, pulling off a 6.9-second sprint off the line. Our tester was wearing winter tires on the black 18-inch wheels, and the standard summer rubber will be stickier. It’s worth mentioning that while the previous Si had adaptive dampers, the latest one forgoes that layout for a fixed sport suspension. It’s very firm for those who are used to softer rides, and notably firmer than the standard Civic Touring.
As expected for a Honda, the steering is quick and precise, though lacking in analog feel. The car goes where pointed and responds eagerly, with decent on-center feel requiring minimal correction at highway speeds. The bigger brakes on the Si also help with stopping performance, making this a great overall performer. We came away really liking the overall driving dynamics of the Civic despite longing for the VTEC scream of the ninth-generation car.
Cruising on the highway, the Honda 1.5-liter mill can pull off brilliant fuel efficiency. We observed highway consumption in the 6.3L/100km range, incredible considering the sub-zero winter weather at the time of testing. Over our week of combined driving including some spirited city runs, we saw 8.2L/100km. Honda Canada’s official ratings are 8.7L/100km in the city and 6.4L/100km on the highway. The Si does require 91-octane premium fuel to run optimally, and that’s what our test took place on.
With cars like the latest generation of Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf, the horse of “going upscale” has been beaten to death. The reality is, the interior of the latest Civic is modern and fresh, with significant improvements made over the last one. The infotainment is completely redesigned to match that of the Accord, with a nine-inch touchscreen and physical buttons for major controls. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, however we had some intermittent connectivity issues with the wireless CarPlay.
For the first time ever, the Civic has a sound system that can be considered acceptable, which means something for a car that supposedly targets a younger buying demographic. It’s not as good as the Bose premium audio in the Mazda3, but it’s better than anything else in its class. Interior ergonomics are well appointed, and the sheer size of the Civic now means four adults can travel in comfort, with plenty of headroom and legroom for rear occupants.
As it relates to its competition, the Civic Si remains in a class of its own – sort of. The Volkswagen GTI and Hyundai Veloster N are both only available as hatchbacks, and for those who don’t want to row their own gears, can be had with dual-clutch automatics. The Subaru WRX is the only other sedan in the class, but gets the benefit of all-wheel-drive, with certain compromises. If what you’re looking for is a genuinely good performance sedan with a proven history for an attainable price, the 2022 Honda Civic Si is probably the thoroughbred you’ve been looking for.