2006 Honda Civic Si
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The youth-oriented Si adds sex appeal to the redesigned 2006 Honda Civic line, but isn't for everyone. It never was.
The Si stands apart from other Civics. It's the bad boy of that Honda line, the one for boy (or girl) racers. Most buy it for transportation as much as for driving kicks.
The first Civic arrived in America as a small, fuel-stingy car in the early 1970s, just in time to cash in on America's first big gasoline crunch. The car helped build Honda's reputation here, and approximately 7 million have been sold in the United States.
The Si debuted in this country much later, in 1985. It soon was snapped up by those who wanted a fast, nimble, affordable, economical and reliable car that was fun to drive. It could be easily modified to develop more power and thus has endeared itself to the "fast and furious" crowd.
Best One Yet
The front-wheel-drive Si is sold only as a rakish two-door coupe with a manual transmission. The regular Civic is offered with a manual or automatic transmission and as a more conservative-looking coupe or sedan—or as a gasoline-electric hybrid sedan.
In fact, the 2006 Civic offers more than 148 model, trim, option and color combinations; more than ever before. Civic prices range from $14,560 to $22,240.
The base Si lists at $20,290, while a Si with performance tires is $20,490. Opt for the Si with a navigation system and XM satellite radio and it's $22,040. The highest-cost Si comes in at $22,240 with XM satellite radio, navigation system and performance tires.
The Si easily outpowers other Civics. Its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine kicks out 197 horsepower, or 57 more than the regular Civic 1.8-liter gasoline engine. The new Si also has 37 more horsepower than the 2005 Si engine.
Frequent Shifting Needed
Estimated fuel economy for the Si is 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Premium fuel is required.
The Si wheelbase is 104.3 inches for better ride and handling, up from 101.2 inches for the 2005 Si.
The new Si also is 9.1 inches longer overall at 174.8 inches and is 2.2 inches wider and 3.2 inches lower. It's heavier, but not enough to affect performance much with its additional horsepower and torque.
Drive the new Si, which has a regular trunk, and last year's hatchback coupe Si and the new version not only handles much better—it makes the 2005 model look and feel more than one year old.
The standard anti-lock, all-disc brakes provide impressive stopping power, with good pedal feel. However, while the ride is supple over rough roads, some uneven ones occasionally cause a choppy ride.
Looks the Part
The quiet, Si-exclusive interior has deeply bolstered seats for fast driving, red fabric stitching and unique trim panels.
There's a large, high-set digital speedometer in the driver's line of sight behind a big, sharply raked windshield, but it's out of place in a high-performance car and doesn't go with the conventional analog tachometer.
Most controls can be easily reached. Front cupholders are large and there are a good number of interior storage areas. Front seatbelts, though, are difficult to reach before being fastened.
Backseat for Kids
The Si is generally so well-finished that it's a letdown to see that the unfinished-looking bare metal interior trunk lid has no cover—and that the hood needs a prop rod to hold it open, instead of a hydraulic strut.
For the most part, though, the new Si is a welcome addition to the high-performance affordable small-car crowd.