Test numbers are kind of our thing here at MotorTrend. We’ve been recording new-car performance metrics longer than anyone else, and the ever-expanding pile of data is a cornerstone of our brand. That said, we’re going to ask you not to overly concern yourself with our test results from the new 2022 Honda Civic Si’s evaluation.
Raw performance has never been the Civic Si’s mission or its strength, and yes, we’re intentionally prefacing the bad news that, in objective terms, the latest model’s numbers have gone backwards. The good news is the 2022 Si is so much better to drive than the already great last-generation car, you shouldn’t get too worked up about a few numbers.
Start With The Stats
As you may already know,
this new Civic Si
is slightly larger than the car it replaces. Honda added 1.4 inches to the 11th-gen Civic’s wheelbase, contributing to the car being 1.3 inch longer overall. Despite that, the ’22 Si weighs in eight pounds lighter than
a previous-gen 2020 Civic Si sedan we tested
. Even better, the weight balance has improved slightly from 61 percent front bias to 59 percent.
It’s good that the car is slightly lighter, because
it has slightly less peak power
. The retuned turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4 now makes 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, down five horsepower. Those ponies were sacrificed to a good cause, though, because the torque rolls in sooner and hangs around longer, eliminating our biggest complaint against the old Si. The sogginess under 3,000 rpm is gone and the power no longer dies off on the top end. While we didn’t necessarily feel the engine spinning up any quicker with its new single-mass flywheel, throttle response seems snappier and it now feels like it pulls all the way to redline. No more short shifting required.
And Now The Numbers
Despite improvements to the power band and how the engine feels, the empirical result is disappointing. Feathering the clutch from 3,700 rpm and short-shifting just a bit netted the best acceleration. Thing is, a 7.1-second zero-to-60 mph run is disappointingly slow for a car of this type, and 0.3-second slower than the 2020 Si. Same for the 15.3-second quarter-mile at 92.8 mph, which is 0.2-second behind and 1.1 mph slower.
Stopping the new Civic Si similarly takes longer than before. It required 110 feet to stop from 60 mph, an additional four feet, despite the carryover 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 tires at all four corners. (Those tires are a $200 option, which display on Honda’s website almost as a trim level for the Si dubbed “HPT,” or High-Performance Tire; all-seasons are standard.) What’s more, this time around Honda fits the Si with larger rotors than a standard Civic (not the case for the old car), but the additional swept area evidently doesn’t translate to higher stopping power.
It’s the same story in our handling tests. Cornering is the Si’s traditional strength, but it’s gone backwards on the stopwatch. The old car pulled 0.95 g average on the skid pad, but the new only manages 0.93. Worse, the old car laid down a 25.7-second lap of our Figure Eight test at 0.69 g average while the new car could only muster a 26.3-second lap at 0.67 g average.
What happened? The slower acceleration and longer braking did the new Si no favors in those portions of the Figure Eight, and we have to assume some combination of suspension settings and the switch from two-mode dampers to fixed models had something to do with it. Likely the biggest issue is the stability control, which is never fully off and won’t give you full power until the steering wheel is completely straight, despite the standard limited-slip front differential.
Here’s Why It Doesn’t Matter
Disappointed as we are in the test results, we’re finding it hard to be too upset after spending time behind the wheel. Three-tenths of a second here and 0.02 average lateral g there aren’t things you can feel. What you do feel is a sports sedan that’s even more fun and rewarding to drive than before.
The tractability of the engine and the breadth of its power band are greatly improved and make the car better to drive gently around town and hard on a winding road. Being slightly slower in a straight line is a better than even trade. If this engine needs anything, it’s a higher redline like Sis of old.
The changes in ultimate grip are fairly negligible, and seem worth the tradeoff for the chassis’s added composure. The new Si feels more stable at high speeds and even more confident in corners. The new fixed-rate dampers and resized anti-roll bars provide fantastic body control. The Si leans confidently into corners and transitions side-to-side more precisely and judiciously than many expensive sports sedans.
On a good road, you can really work this little car over and it always comes back for more. Honda’s brilliant manual shifter, second only to that of a Porsche,
has been made even better
with a stiffer mounting bracket and heavier knob that help it slot even more satisfyingly into gear. Every shift, up or down, is as short and crisp as flipping a light switch. Yes, it has automatic rev-matching now, and it works great, but we turned it off anyway.
It’s not just the shifter, either. Every control feels sharp and responsive. The steering is light and precise with solid feedback. The car turns in crisply with only a smidge of understeer if you try to carry too much speed into the corner. The throttle is well-mapped to the engine response allowing you to dial in exactly as much as you need. The limited-slip differential puts the power down coming out of a corner, allowing you to get on the throttle super early and maintain as much speed as possible. That stability control frustration that showed up in instrument testing was nowhere to be found on the road.
As always, the Si is a momentum car. You want to use the brakes as little as possible, and the low power and superb chassis allow you to do exactly that. Not having to worry about destabilizing the car with the throttle or brakes allows you to focus on improving your driving. This, in turn, makes you want to drive faster as you learn what the car likes.
Using the brakes as little as possible is also solid advice if you’re planning on tracking the car. We’d hoped the larger rotors would do something for brake cooling, but no such luck. We faded the brakes after a few laps of a road course at full race pace, so you’ll need to plan upgrades if you’re doing any more than autocross. We’d hoped that wouldn’t translate to the road, but sure enough, we faded them on a canyon road, too. It’s a shame, because the chassis and drivetrain can absolutely handle track work out of the box. At least the brake pedal feel is great.
The Rest Of The Package
The core of the new Si is, of course, the new Civic. This means before you even consider performance you get a car that feels more refined and better built than anything else at this price. From the interior design that looks a class above to the larger rear seat and full suite of standard active and passive safety systems, the Si builds from an already great car.
Rejiggering of the equipment list also nets this new Si a few nice-to-have features, starting with a much-improved infotainment system. It’s not our favorite on the market, but it’s a big step forward. Honda has also equipped it with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an upgraded Bose stereo, both plucked from higher-trim non-Si Civics.
If there’s one place we take exception to Honda’s product planning it’s in
of the old car
. Honda justifies this citing mixed response on the old car’s damping, but we suspect cost played a role. These fixed dampers are quite good for handling, but so were the two-mode units and they rode slightly better in their softer setting.
The Value Question
The dampers aren’t the only thing lost in transition. Also gone are the heated front seats. All the while, the price tag has climbed $2,160 to $28,315 to start and $28,515 as-tested with the high-performance tire option. The old price was a screaming deal, but this one has crept a lot closer to other budget performance cars from Subaru, Volkswagen, and Hyundai.
What Honda giveth—the Si gains a lot of refinement, standard safety equipment, and a few nice electronics—Honda also taketh away, namely peak objective performance and some ancillary features. This makes the 2022 Si a tougher sell, but while it may not be the same no-brainer deal it used to be, the way the car drives and general quality of the vehicle more than justifies the price tag. It is still damn good.
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