The 2022 model year saw a brand new Honda Civic, and we’ve enjoyed every one we’ve tested, especially the turbo models, including the Honda Civic Touring Sedan, and the Civic Sport Touring Hatchback. But Honda kept us waiting with a slightly delayed introduction of the Civic Si, the Civic aimed straight at the heart of the enthusiast.
So, was it worth the wait? Let’s find out!
We’ve already talked about how much we love the new Civics’ looks. It’s grown up, with a much cleaner overall appearance and less gimmicky aerodynamic baubles that were a little too shouty for many buyers who wanted to fly under the radar.
So, while the new model is more mature, it hasn’t gone full Grandpa on us, especially for the sporty Si model. It will probably take a well-trained eye to notice the new upper front bumper design, but that’s fine, the LED headlights and fogs look menacing, and the aggressive cut-outs of the upper and lower grilles look ready to do business. And of course, there’s a signature red Si badge that visually pops.
Offered exclusively in 4-door sedan, the profile has the same handsome lines of our other testers but looks a bit more badass with a full blacked-out treatment on the trim and mirrors, made all the better by standard 18” 10-spoke alloy wheels in Si-specific matte black paint.
At the rear your eyes are drawn first to the gloss black rear spoiler that sets off the bold LED taillights underneath. For those not in the know, another Si badge adorns the rear trunk lid. The biggest giveaway that you’re driving the high-protein model are the reshaped bumper with dual large oval exhaust tips. Really setting off our tester was the Si-exclusive Blazing Orange Pearl paint that is stunning. We think it looks like lava. Hot! Hot! Hot!
Inside, the Si puts even more emphasis on sport and driver.
Open the door and you’re greeted by prominently bolstered sport seats with built-in head restraints that are unique to the Si. Like other Civics, there’s no lumbar support, but like the others we’ve tested, the seats are so well designed, you don’t miss it. You might miss the fact that heated seats didn’t make it to the new Si model. It’s a small loss, but the seats are excellent, with plenty of support whether you’re doing a long drive or hitting your favorite on-ramp.
Those riding in back will find comfortable seating, and even though this is a sedan, the rear seats fold down and there’s a generous pass through, so if you need to bring bigger items, you can do it.
Back up front, the gauge package is similar to other Civics, with slight deviations. We love the large analog-look to the speedo and tachometer which is actually part of a 7-inch color instrument display, including a multifunction readout in the center. We also love the 160-mph speedometer. Will you go that fast? Uh, no…but still it looks great.
Also looking great is the 9-inch color touchscreen served up tablet style in the center of the dash, with, thank you Honda, a volume knob. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and we found this one of the easiest systems to handshake and get going. While there’s no wireless charging, there’s a nicely sized tray to store your phone, and USB connections are right there.
Honda says the 12-speaker, Bose premium audio system is the best factory audio system ever in a Civic Si, and we agree – it sounds terrific. Honda knows that Si buyers care as much about the sound of their tracks as the sound of the exhaust!
While you’re in those supportive seats taking in the view, you’ll notice Si-specific red stitching on the leather-wrapped wheel, arm rest, shift boot and shift knob. There’s even red trim on the Civic’s metal honeycomb dash (which hides the air vents) that adds a layer of cool to the eye and the touch.
Speaking of touch, you definitely feel that the Si has stepped up from previous models with nicer, high-quality materials, switchgear that’s effortless and precise, and the kind of well-thought out, tasteful design that Honda does so well.
We Came to Drive
But the real reason you pop for the Si is the driving experience. And here it gets interesting….
In the days of more, more, more, the Si actually has less horsepower – 200– a 5-horse dip from last year, but they do it in the name of peak torque coming in a few hundred rpm sooner. It may be a tiny bit slower than before 0-60, but the engine definitely feels more refined, and we found getting on the power the engine note is delicious.
And let’s not forget, this is a 1.5-liter, turbo four cylinder, so that’s pretty stout for its size. And with a combined EPA 31 mpg, it is having your high-performance cake, and eating it too.
Shifting was already a joy in the previous model, but that didn’t stop Honda from improving shift feel and serving up 10 percent shorter throws. There’s also a new, more rigid shift lever mounting bracket and a new leather-wrapped aluminum shift knob similar to the Civic Type R. Honda sweats the details when it comes to driver’s cars.
When you hit the road, there’s a choice of 3 drive modes, Normal, Sport and new for ‘22 Individual. Since the adaptive suspension is gone for the new model, you’re mostly just choosing throttle mapping and steering feel. Sport also deactivates Auto stop start feature and changes the accent instrument lighting from white to red. Sporty!
Another nice new feature is downshift rev-matching – something that first came out on the Nissan 370Z, and more recently on the Civic Type R – that matches the engine rpm to give you a perfectly smooth downshift. while the purists may like heel and toeing, it’s super handy when you’re driving quickly – and technically pretty amazing!
As before, the Si has a standard limited-slip differential, and combined with our tester’s optional high-performance summer tires gives a ton of grip in corners with no understeer. It may have just 200 horses, but each one is digging in and giving all it’s got.
This makes the Si a superb handler – the steering is precise, the sport seats hug you like crazy, and there’s very little lean. The stiffer chassis of the new model is another bonus. The ride quality is excellent, slightly on the firm side, but not harsh, and frankly, we never missed the adaptive shocks.
Since the Civic is often a family vehicle, Honda enhanced the safety as well. There’s the world’s first application of driver and passenger frontal airbags designed to better reduce the likelihood of injuries from severe brain trauma associated with angled frontal collisions. The Si also features the Honda Sensing® suite of safety tech, including an upgrade that makes the system capable of more quickly and accurately identifying pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles, along with road lines and road signs.
Can I Afford to Get Sporty?
Hey, this is a Civic! While you can get into a base model for just $22,550, the turbo models command a premium. The good news – the Si is not the most expensive turbo Civic; the Touring starts at over $29,000. The bad news – the Si has jumped a couple grand up since last year, now starting at $27,500. Our tester had the Blazing Orange Paint ($395), and Destination ($1,015), ringing the bell at $28,910.
Competition would include the Jetta GLI, at $32,685. It’s a lovely European sport sedan, but nearly $4,000 more is a bitter pill to swallow. The new Elantra N looks like a rocket, with 276 horsepower, but at $33,195 it’s also a significantly larger investment. So, the Si is still the choice for enthusiasts on a budget. Heck, even if you could spend more, why should you?
Great bang for the buck and immense fun to drive – the all-new 2022 Civic Si is our favorite affordable sport sedan.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.