The 2022 Honda Civic Si follows the old formula of making a Civic fun: It has more power, a sport suspension, racey red interior bits, and a manual transmission. But is the car really fun or too tame?
Grown Up Exterior
The new Si wears the latest Civic’s more serious and arguably better-looking skin. The robotic mantis styling is gone, replaced with more simple lines and scowling headlamps. The last car’s fake plastic vents are also gone, and overall the new Si looks more purposeful and refined. Yet it retains some of the fussiness of the previous generation, including a few awkward kinks and creases.
In this trim the car sports the classic red Si badge, a honeycomb grille, blacked-out window trim, blacked-out 18-inch wheels, and dual exhaust pipes. All the cars at the Honda Si release event were slathered in rusty orange (brown? bronze? brorange?) paint, giving them a warm yet spooky autumnal glow that made me wonder if the release was originally scheduled for Halloween. Orange is my favorite color so I may be biased, but I absolutely loved it. The car is also available in a rich metallic blue that contrasts the red accents nicely. Overall the new Civic Si gives off sophisticated vibes. The look will appeal to a more grown-up crowd, but some fans may miss the wild flair of the previous generation.
Sporty, User-Friendly Interior
Inside there are bolstered seats with red fabric inserts and the Si logo, red accents, and red gauges. The dashboard gets funky and futuristic silver honeycomb trim, perhaps in a nod to the previous generation’s more insectoid styling.
A 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is stuck to the top of the dash and points straight back at the rear seats, meaning the driver has to lean in slightly to get a good view of the screen. A few-degree tilt toward the driver would improve things, but so it goes. The screen is responsive and easy to use and the graphics are hilariously Honda. Example: Switch between driving modes and the entire screen changes to a photoshopped picture of a Civic either in a cityscape (normal) or on a twisty road (sport). Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, and setup is super fast and easy whether you choose to pair your device wirelessly or plug it in via USB. The HVAC system is refreshingly analog with three big, easy-to-use knobs in the center of the dash. Overall interior quality is on par with other Civics, but the racy red bits make it a little more fun.
A Few Grievances
The gauge cluster is half analog/half digital with the screen to the left and a physical speedometer to the right, which seems a bit backwards. In a sporty manual-transmission car the tachometer should be analog and the speedo should be digital. At least the digital display is crisp and displays an array of driving info. The steering wheel feels fine and is a nice size, but its buttons stick out past the rim and I accidentally pushed them several times while maneuvering in a parking lot.
Could Use a Boost
The turbocharged engine puts out 200 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 192 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. That’s less horsepower than the outgoing Civic Si, but more usable torque. Still, initial grunt is lacking down low when compared to the competition. The power comes on higher in the rev range, then taps out at 6,500 rpm. The engine likes to be between 4k and 6k and thanks to the manual transmission you can keep it humming away there pretty much all the time. Honda say the dual exhaust is louder and sportier than the standard car, but it’s still very quiet even when driving spiritedly in Sport mode.
With rivals outgunning the 1.5-liter turbo, it would have been nice to see a bit more power in the Civic Si, or maybe a higher-revving engine like the screamers of the past. That may be wishful thinking with stricter emissions regulations, though.
Wholly Capable Chassis
The Si is all about performance and on the road this car is no slouch. It gets a trick mechanical differential that puts power down evenly and prevents torque steer. It works well, making the car feel almost like it has AWD. Our press cars were also equipped with super-sticky summer performance tires (a $200 option) and it was tough to break the tires loose on the extremely twisty canyon roads outside LA.
The Si’s party piece is its standard six-speed manual transmission. It’s the only option for the car and Honda have put a lot of work into making the gearshift mechanical and analog. The result is a heavier-than-expected throw that makes the shifter feel like it’s out of a classic sports car. It’s quite a feat considering it isn’t directly attached to the transmission, but it feels un-Hondalike. Honda shifters of yore were light and delicate while this definitely feels more motorsport. The clutch is still ultralight and intuitive in true Honda fashion, though. The car also gets super-smooth rev-matching tech that automatically blips the throttle when you downshift. It’s one of the best I’ve experienced and really makes you feel like a legit racer.
On the road the car is firm, taut, agile, and extremely capable, but does take some effort to drive. The steering is on the heavy side and a bit numb, which can be tiring for some drivers. With the trick diff and sticky tires the Si should be capable of logging good lap times, but it’s not as playful as Sis of the past. It’s a proper gecko in the twisties, but it may be too serious for some buyers.
The Honda Civic Si has indeed grown up into a more refined, sporty compact sedan. Does it lack some of that excited-puppy energy of past models? Yes, but it still carries the goods, and a willingness to reward the driver when pushed.