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Honda Civic Si Added to Lineup for Enthusiast Small Car Buyers

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2017 Honda Civic Si

Eighth Generation Honda Civic Si  There have been ten generations of the Honda Civic spanning about 40 years.  Generations three through nine have included the Honda Civic Si model to provide a sportier alternative for enthusiast small car buyers.  The tenth generation Honda Civic Si sedan and coupe went on sale at Honda dealers on May 13, 2017.

The tenth generation Civic is a platform development tour-de-force.  Honda lost its mojo with a generation of technically excellent, but unexciting products.  Honda is now back with a vengeance.  Their new generation stuff is outstanding.  Their truck platform products are very good – Honda Pilot XSUV, Honda Ridgeline pickup and Honda Odyssey minivan.  The Honda Accord is a very competitive premium mid-size car selling at high volumes.

The previous, ninth gen Civic was created during the lean years of the Great Recession.  Consequently, the car left a lot to be desired.  Realizing the ninth gen Civic had been a step backwards, Honda pulled out the stops on the tenth generation Civic.  They created a car with distinctive styling and a comfortable and functional interior.  The car is available with an impressive load of comfort, convenience and safety features.

2017 Honda Civic Si

The Honda Civic Si is not the end of the car line’s model extension.  The higher performance Type-R hatchback will be launched in a month or so.

Exterior Styling  The 2017 Honda Civic Si is special.  It has more aggressive front and rear fascias with prominent air ducts.  The grille texture has moved from chrome to gloss black for a sportier look.  A rear spoiler has been added.  Tires are upgraded to 235/40R18 to help more aggressive handling and enhance the car’s stance.  There is a center outlet exhaust with chrome surround.  All this clearly communicates the car’s more sporty nature.

Interior Styling  The black interior sports black and red accents for the instrumentation.  The Honda Civic Si has two driving modes – “Sport”and “Normal”.  In sport mode, the cluster accents are red.  In normal mode, the cluster accents are blue.  New front seats have a unique frame and bolstering to better support the driver and front seat passenger when pushing the limits.  The bolsters are firm, but not uncomfortable.

Powertrain and Chassis  Under the skin, the engine has been upgraded.  It is powered by a 205-horsepower 1.5L 4-cylinder turbo.  The turbo substantially improves mid-range torque which makes the car feel more flexible.  The already-excellent 6-speed manual transmission in the Civic is upgraded to provide an even more definite short stroke gear change.  Front brake discs grow 1.2-inches to a 12.3 inch diameter.  Rears add 0.9 inches for 11.1 inches.  As you might expect, the Si gets an exclusive suspension with unique springs, stabilizer bars and shocks.

Competition and Pricing  The Honda Civic Si competes with the Subaru Impreza WRX, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST, Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and Hyundai Veloster Turbo.  In recent years the WRX and GTI have outsold the Si, but the new car may change that.  The Si is priced at $23,900 for either the coupe or 4-door sedan.  This gives it a $525 advantage over the Focus ST, $1,695 over the GTI and $2,795 over the WRX.   Si is a high value proposition in its class.  There are no options available on the Si.

What Honda Civic Si Lacks The Si is available only with a 6-speed manual transmission.  This is admittedly an excellent transmission, but American buyers have been abandoning manuals for years.  This limits the sales potential of the Si.  Honda engineers and planners seemed to dismiss the need for an automatic.  They cited the enthusiast’s desire for the active driving experience provided by a manual.  One admitted their Continuously Variable Transmission found in the rest of the Civic line would accommodate the horsepower and torque of the Si’s engine, but the CVT would surely sap the crispness of the engine.  Then there is a dual clutch automatic like Honda uses in the Acura ILX.  Maybe that could be fitted.  Anyway, if they want to increase Si sales at some point, an automatic would be in order.

The rest of the Civic line offers the excellent HondaSensing automatic driver assistance system.  This includes adaptive cruise control, lane watch and assist.  More and more drivers are expecting this system.  Just because Si is directed at sporty drivers, it does not mean they do not want HondaSensing.  Similarly, the Si is not available with a blind spot monitoring system.  It needs one available.

 


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2008 Subaru Impreza: New York Auto Show

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New Chassis and New Look Means a Quieter Impreza, Inside and Out
Subaru was busy at this year’s New York International Auto Show, delivering both a new Impreza and an updated look for their Tribeca crossover SUV. The new Impreza will go on sale in fall 2007, continuing with a five-door and a four-door and, of course, the highly coveted WRX model. We’ll have to wait until next year to get hold of the coveted STi.

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Subaru revealed a more conservatively styled Impreza in New York, as they also did with the updated Tribeca. Impreza, particularly disappointing for the WRX models, lost much of its front-end character, gained side surfacing reminiscent of BMW, and the five-door traded in its Subaru edges for a more rounded form. The new look takes as much adjusting to as the 2006 model year facelift did when it brought us the wing-form grille from the Tribeca, but this time it makes you miss the Subaru feel.
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By time the Impreza goes on sale in fall, buyers may well be used to the new face and less disappointed. If the new look brings in new buyers without losing the old, the change could be worth suffering initial criticism. In New York, Subaru had the sedan in WRX trim and the five-door in 2.5i trim on display, and both models looked better in person than in photographs. While the new five-door isn’t as quirky as the outgoing car, it is also less clumsy. Its shape is more elegant, though it doesn’t look like a Subaru from the rear.
EDITOR’s Note: Subaru aficionados appear to be initially turned off by the look of the new Impreza. Chat rooms are full of negative buzz about the styling. Maybe the performance will offset some of the criticism.
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Here in the States, Subaru will continue to offer four- and five-door bodystyles for 2008MY (in 2.5i and WRX form), but the four-door sedan will be available only here. All-wheel drive continues as standard equipment for the States, with Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control optional on Impreza for the first time. The airbag system has been updated to deploy driver and front passenger airbags in stages depending on passenger sensors. The driver’s seat has a sensor in the seat track to allow deployment based on seating position, while the front passenger’s side senses the weight of the passenger. Side-impact airbags are standard as well.
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