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2006 Honda Civic Si

This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

A unique high-performance coupe that benefits from improvements to regular Civic.
Pros:
  • Much better than predecessor
  • Fast
  • Sharp handling
Cons:
  • Springy clutch action
  • Occasional choppy ride
  • Back seat hard to reach

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 recently released Si is the best one yet, partly because it benefits from major changes made to the revamped, eighth-generation 2006 Civic. The 2001-05 Civic was too conservative, but the new one has sleeker styling, upgraded interiors, revised suspensions and more power.

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.

Well Equipped
The high-quality Si has lots of comfort and convenience items, including a power sunroof. Standard safety items include front-seat side airbags and side-curtain airbags.

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
The Si engine is sophisticated, with dual overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. It propels the Si from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds and allows fast merging and passing. But the engine calls for high revs—and thus frequent shifting—for the best performance.

Estimated fuel economy for the Si is 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. Premium fuel is required.

New Gearbox
Last year's Si had a 5-speed manual transmission, but the new Si has a short-throw 6-speed manual gearbox. However, its springy clutch needs a surer feel.

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.

Sports-Car Handling
Steering is quick and handling is virtually in the sports-car class, thanks partly to a helical limited-slip front differential that improves acceleration and cornering performance.

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 Si looks the part, with a "sports grille," a rear spoiler, aerodynamic body cladding, special badging, sport exhaust tip and—most importantly—17-inch alloy wheels with wide 45-series tires.

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
Thr back seat is hard to enter or leave despite long doors and is best suited for children. But you can flip down the rear seatbacks to enlarge the cargo area via a big pass-through opening between the trunk and rear-seat area.

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.

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BB02 - 7/28/2014 8:56:58 PM