Any sports car purist will tell you, front wheel drive is wrong wheel drive. Transmitting power through the wheels that also steer ensures that they do neither well, and when pushed hard you’ll have understeer instead of fun. Despite this, the Si handles well enough to give many rear wheel and all-wheel-drive competitors a tough time on any onramp or windy road.
Blame the well-sorted suspension, stiff chassis and mechanical limited-slip front differential, but we tried, repeatedly, to get the Si to misbehave in hard corners. Even our sloppiest corner entry was rewarded almost perfectly neutral balance and only the slightest hint of understeer. In the hands of a skilled driver (though perhaps equipped with better tires) the Si could easily hound the rear bumper of some downright fast cars on track days.
At a glance the Si looks like a miniature version of the Accord Coupe. From some angles it looks like a slightly more angry version than a normal Civic, but from others it can look frumpy and humble. Lower ride height and less wheel gap would help considerably, and there should be a number of aftermarket suspension upgrades available to lower the Si while retaining its dialed, nimble handling.
The Civic Si has always packed a lot of performance into an affordable package, and the 2012 edition is no different. Though it lacks some creature comforts like heated power seats or any number of other luxury options, it has an excellent motor, transmission and driving dynamics, solid built quality and great gas mileage. The Si would score even higher marks in the value department if it had a little more headroom for passengers and perhaps more cargo room in back. If these things are high on your list of priorities, you’ll be delighted to hear that the Si is also available in a four-door version.
Who should buy it?
The ideal Civic Si owner seeks a practical, affordable and fuel efficient car that occasionally impersonates a race car. Sure, there are faster cars lurking within a few thousand dollars of the Si, and also an ever-increasing number of cars that get even better mileage. But there aren’t many that offer such an enjoyable mix of both.
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