After ten generations to build upon, one would expect Honda to learn a thing or two when coming out with the eleventh generation 2022 Honda Civic Si late last year. Having been a Honda enthusiast for many years, I’ve been eagerly awaiting a full week of testing with the new Si, and only just recently sold my beloved 2008 Acura CSX Type S – an eighth-generation Civic Si in more luxurious Acura clothing that was sold only in Canada.
Less Is More
When the tenth generation debuted for the 2017 model year, many decried the use of a smaller turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine over the 2.0-litre “K20” and 2.4-litre “K24” units used in the eighth and ninth generation models, respectively. Gone was the stratospheric seven to eight thousand RPM redline complete with violent VTEC kicking in, and in its place was a gutsy little thing that hauled ass, but didn’t have as much personality.
For 2022, the 1.5-litre turbo carries on in the Si, and curiously, peak horsepower is down from 205 to 200. Peak torque remains at 192 pound-feet but now happens between 1,800 and 5,000 RPM as opposed to the previous model’s peak between 2,100 and 5,000 RPM. Long story short, while the peak number is lower overall, there is more usable torque over a broader part of the rev range.
In the real world, it’s true – the 2022 Honda Civic Si doesn’t have as much personality when wringing out the revs, but it’s much more of a treat to daily drive when you’re not hustling so hard, and the turbo motor will mop the floor with any of the old K20 or K24 in a drag race. Refinement is pretty good, too, with nothing out of the ordinary to report for a smaller four-cylinder configuration.
2022 Honda Civic Si: Shift It Yourself
As always, there’s only one transmission available on the 2022 Honda Civic Si: a six-speed manual. With revisions to shorten shift throws and improve shifter feel, there’s also been a change from a dual-mass flywheel to a single-mass unit. While the older K-series Si models had the shift feel market cornered, the 2017 to 2022 tenth generation missed the mark slightly. This has now been fixed, and the 2022 Si once again has one of the best shifters of any car on the market today.
On the flip side, the phenomenon known as rev hang has plagued Si models for over a decade and a half. Even with my 2008 Acura CSX Type S, upshifts happened slower than ideal because the engine’s revs would take a long time to drop when the clutch was depressed. To get around this, you had two choices – wait for the revs to drop, or engage the clutch and have a less-than-smooth upshift.
Some say this is due to emissions requirements, and it can get quite annoying to live with. I’m happy to report that the new 2022 model improves on this considerably over the car it replaces, but Honda hasn’t eliminated it completely. Drivers from other makes and models who don’t have rev hang may not be thrilled, but existing eighth/ninth/tenth generation Si owners will find it to be an upgrade.
The 2022 Honda Civic Si has a significantly revised suspension, with springs, dampers, sway bars, and bushings getting a stiffer calibration. The dampers are now fixed and not adaptive, and the end result is a Civic that doesn’t actually ride that badly at all. With upgraded Koni “Orange” dampers, my 2008 CSX sometimes was a bit much for my 18-month-old son, and downtown driving over streetcar tracks and pockmarked surfaces sometimes caused his stomach contents to make themselves known to the outside world. Even with low-profile 18-inch wheels and tires, the 2022 Si rides better and has improved body control. I didn’t get a chance to subject my son to such destructive testing (I’m not so sure Honda Canada would’ve appreciated the mess in their press car!), but from my own perspective, it feels like an improvement.
Like the models that precede it, a helical limited-slip differential combines with good suspension tuning to create an incredible amount of cornering grip and power-on traction. This lets the Si keep its distinction as one of the better-handling front-wheel drive cars that money can buy, and I’ve personally seen a number of late model Si obliterating the competition at local autocross competitions. With a competent pilot, sticky tires and perhaps a more aggressive alignment, they can finish in the top five out of over a hundred “much faster” cars.
Going right back to the eighth generation, steering feel was never a strong suit for the Civic Si. This was when electric power steering assist was introduced, and it did kill off a lot of road feedback that used to be plentiful in the 1988 to 2000 heydays of the EF (fourth), EG (fifth), and EK (sixth) generations. For 2022, the steering still doesn’t offer a ton of feedback in terms of what the front wheels are doing, but it’s at least nice and heavy and is more in line with the hydraulically assisted setups from years gone by.
For Dads and Families
The 2022 Honda Civic Si is available only as a sedan – the coupe has been silently dropped. For dads looking for a practical yet fun car, it’s a good choice, and I always appreciated the 2008 CSX because it could accommodate one to two kids as a solid urban family car. It could handle a stroller and/or a grocery store run and was more nimble around town than a big fat sport utility vehicle.
For child seats, LATCH/ISOFIX anchors are available for the outer rear seating positions only, but top tether anchor points are available for any of the three rear seating positions – installing in the rear middle position should use the locking mechanism on the seat belt. In the safety department, there’s the full Honda Sensing system of driver assists, which are not necessarily found in manual transmission offerings from other automakers.
2022 Honda Civic Si: Bottom Line
With 2022 coming to a close, no major changes are expected for the 2023 model year. While this year’s Civic Si costs $33,750 Canadian, next year’s will be $35,130 for a very well-equipped sedan that’s in line with the non-sporting top-trim Touring model. Against its peers, the 2022 Honda Civic Si finds itself up against the Volkswagen GLI, Subaru WRX, and Hyundai Elantra N. The GLI and Si are pretty close; the WRX gives up some features for all-wheel drive (or balloons to nearly 40 grand for similar equipment), and the Elantra N is a better performer that compromises on premium feel.
For road trips, taller people, or the baggage that life brings, the 2022 Honda Civic Si might be a bit small. If prospective buyers are willing to pack smartly or are looking to supplement a larger car with a smaller one that also happens to be fun, the Civic Si could be for you. As a Honda enthusiast and past CSX Type S / Si owner, I do miss the screaming K20, but would still consider it to be everything that a modern-day Si should be.