2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

When the Civic debuted in 1973, we were just coming out of the muscle-car era and the strangulation of the American V-8 had begun. Much like the V-8 engines of the era, the Civic’s 1,169-cc, inline-four engine produced all of 50 ponies. In 1986, Honda ventured into the performance world with the Civic, as it introduced the performance-oriented Si hatchback . With 91 horsepower and 93 pound-feet in tow, the debut Civic Si could hit 60 mph in around 10 seconds and still deliver 30 mpg on the highway. The 2014 Civic Si Sedan has more than twice the power of its distant sibling, and delivers unexpected pop for a naturally aspirated model.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan, and gave it the flogging it so loudly cried for. With its rev-happy four-cylinder, 18-inch wheels and close-ratio six-speed manual, the Civic Si Sedan seems to be — on paper at least — the perfect combination for gearheads with a family and a lighter wallet.

Click past the jump to see what I think of the 2014 Civic Si Sedan .

Exterior

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven
Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven
Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

For 2014, the Si Coupe received a full refresh, but the Sedan carries on unchanged from its 2013 refresh. The new look of the Civic Si Sedan is not overly different than the rest of the Civic Sedan lineup, but there is enough to distinguish it from the lesser models in the range. Namely the 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler, low-profile tires, fog lights, "Si" badges, and unique fascias on the front and rear.

For a sedan, the Civic Si is relatively sporty looking thanks to the more aggressive front and rear spoilers. The red badges help bolster the idea, and the wheels also add a little extra something to the look as well. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about the Civic Si Sedan’s body that hasn’t been said a million times about every Civic Sedan. The lower body line is the most captivating, as it swings upward near the end of the rear door and makes an invisible straight line between where it ends and the quarter panel-rear bumper swage line starts. It’s a subtle detail, but adds a lot of character to the body. The "i-VTEC" logo on the rear door adds a touch of sportiness and a whole lot of boy-racer feel to the car, but that is who Honda is catering to here.

Around back, the Civic Si gets a little more sportiness in the form of a slightly restyled bumper, a gloss-black bumper insert, a large wing and an equally large exhaust tip.

Overall, the 2014 Civic Si Sedan is an easy car to approach, as its body lines are sharp without looking too insane. This makes it just aggressive enough to keep generation X and Y buyers happy with it, while not offending older purchasers.

My test model came fully loaded with everything, as it was the range-topping model with navigation. Unfortunately, this upgrade into the top-of-the-line model nets you no upgrades on the outside; you get all of the same features you would with the base Si.

2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in)105.1
Length (in)179.4
Height (in)56.5
Width (in)69.0
Track (in, front/rear)59.2 / 59.9
Curb Weight (lbs)3,002
Weight Distribution (%, front/rear)61 / 39

Interior

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven
Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven
Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

On the inside, the Civic Si offers up a lot of goodies that regular Civic buyers cannot get. The two-tone, red-and-black sport seats; a leather-wrapped sports steering wheel with tons of audio and phone controls; one of the best-weighted aluminum shift knobs I have ever had the pleasure to row; and a carbon-fiber-style (read: fake) dash insert are all included with the Si. The last feature was fake, but the fact that Honda covered it with lacquer made it more acceptable than the exposed faux carbon fiber in the 2014 Kia Forte EX. Stitched-leather inserts also grace the dashboard, helping distract you from the sea-of-black-plastic on top of the dash.

Other interior goodies included a seven-inch, 360-watt, seven-speaker Display Audio sound/navigation system that really plays well into the Generation X and Y focus of the Civic Si. The screen is hard-faced, like a cell phone, and the sound is great for a compact car. Sure, it’s not concert-quality sound, but it is very well balanced. The navigation system is accurate and easy to use, plus its voice controls are spot-on. What I really like about this seven-inch screen is the fact that Honda angled it toward the driver, making it easy for me to see.

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

The two-tiered gauge system on the Civic has always intrigued me, and it looks awesome inside the Si’s cabin. I have just two complaints with this display. First of all, Honda went boy-racer overboard with the i-VTEC meter in the top left corner. Honda could have simply made it a shift meter instead of going all Fast and Furious on us. Secondly, the number of options for the small display to the right of the speedometer are too limited. I could choose between a clock, mpg meter, another i-VTEC gauge that was creatively named "Power Gauge," and a redundant audio display. The audio display and power gauge could have easily been cooler with maybe a 0-to-60-mph timer and maybe a tire pressure read-out.

Depending on what you like, the cabin is either a great place to spend some time or simply okay. If you love the sound of Honda’s VTEC system working its magic and a throaty exhaust, the cabin is pure heaven. If you prefer quietness and comfort, then the Civic Si is not a fun place for you to hang around. I am of the former group and my wife is of the latter group, so we had very different feelings about the Si’s cabin.

In terms of easy-driving bits, the Civic Si has more than most compact sedans. These features include a rearview camera with three angles to choose from — wide, narrow and overhead — and a blind-spot camera that activated with the right turn signal or a press of a button on the end of the headlight control stalk.

Overall, the Civic Si’s cabin isn’t great, but it certainly is much more than I originally anticipated.

2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Interior Specifications

Headroom (in, front/rear)37.9 / 36.2
Legroom (in, front/rear)42.0 / 36.2
Shoulder Room (in, front/rear)56.6 / 53.3
Hiproom (in, front/rear)50.5 / 51.4
Cargo Volume (cu ft)12.5
Passenger Volume (cu ft)92.1
Seating Capacity5

Drivetrain

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

Under the hood is where things really matter with the 2014 Civic Si. It comes fitted with a 2.4-liter, i-VTEC DOHC four-cylinder engine that pumps out a tidy 205 horses at 7,000 rpm and 174 pound-feet of twist at 4,400 rpm. That’s a lot of power for a naturally aspirated, four-cylinder, but it’s no match for the likes of the Focus ST, or the Suby WRX.

This i-VTEC system is a pretty nit-picky hunk of aluminum, as it has a great sweet spot between 2,500 and 4,500 revs, but from then on things get a little scary. The revs get super-high, the engine gets very audible and the perceived power returned for all this ruckus isn’t that great. Sure, it is 200+ ponies once you get to 7,000 rpm, but it sounds as if you should be accelerating a lot harder with all the noise. But once you get used to the sweet spot in the rev band, you finally realize that the Civic Si’s free-breathing, i-VTEC engine is a thing of beauty.

The six-cog manual box is pretty nice and has well-placed gates for easy switching under hard throttle. The only issue is that the clutch grabs a little inconsistently under heavy load, so you may find yourself double shifting after a nasty grind on the 1-2 shift until you get used to it.

The EPA rates the 2014 Civic Si at 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. Those aren’t great for a compact car, but about on-par for a performance-oriented four-cylinder. I noted 25.2 mpg during my 500 miles with the car, and that was a lot of city driving and lots of hanging out in the upper ends of the powerband. Not too bad.

In terms of acceleration, I timed the Civic Si consistently in the low-six-second range to 60 mph — 7.1 to 7.4 seconds. To hit these numbers, though, I had to turn off the traction control, or I would experience one hell of a nose dive when the tires broke loose on the 1-2 change and the traction control system cut the power.

2014 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Drivetrain Specifications

Engine TypeInline 4-Cylinder
Engine Block/Cylinder HeadAluminum-Alloy
Displacement (L)2.4
Horsepower @ RPM (SAE net)205 @ 7,000
Torque (LB-FT @ RPM, SAE net)174 @ 4,400
Redline (RPM)7,000
Compression Ratio11.0 : 1
Valve Train16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC

Driving Impressions

Driving the Civic Si correctly is a learned behavior. It is not one of those cars that you can hop into and milk all of its potential in your first few cracks. There is a distinct sweet spot in the rev band and once you pass that, things get deafening and the torque falls at terminal velocity. Finding this sweet spot is fairly simple, but you will find yourself winding out a little too much here and there.

Shifting gears is a pleasure 90 percent of the time in the Si, thanks to its nicely weighted shift knob and easy-to-find gates. Under heavy load, however, the clutch grabs a little inconsistently, leading to the occasional grind, expletive, shift-again moment. This will diminish with more time behind the wheel, but expect it early on in owning one.

In terms of handling, the Civic Si’s newly re-tuned suspension is awesome. I would never expect a sedan to handle like this, particularly one with such a heavy front end. The feedback through the wheel is acceptable and the quick-ratio steering is precise and very point-and-go. The ride quality is so-so, but if you’re buying a Civic Si for comfort, you may want to consider doing more research before buying a car.

The cabin is comfy for a sports car driver and has plenty of features to keep the average Joe happy. Sure, it has cloth seats and a lot of plastic, but there are enough amenities to overcome the scratchy ugliness.

What’s more, having all of these performance credentials and the option of four doors is a thing of beauty. Nothing is better than flogging your machine, then picking up the family with ease later in the day.

Pricing

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

The 2014 Civic Si Sedan starts out at $22,990, but once you move up to the "w/ Navi" trim — I know, Honda and its weird sub trims — you are looking at $24,490 plus $790 destination fee. For the extra coin, you get navigation (of course), a multi-angle rearview camera, voice recognition, and HD and XM radio.

Competition

2015 Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Civic Si Sedan is a bit of an oddball because there are precious few performance, compact sedans on the market. So we need to expand our search to eliminate the sedan requirement. This starts us off with the 2015 Volkswagen Volkswagen GTI, which makes use of a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 210 horses and 258 pound-feet of torque. The Golf really takes hold when you consider it is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG transmission — the Civic Si only comes with a manual. This is enough to hit 60 mph in the 6.5-second range with the manual and 6.3 second range with the DSG trans. No matter what way you slice it, the GTI is faster than the Civic Si, unsurprisingly.

Where the VW GTI loses some of its lead is in its price. The base four-door GTI starts at about $25k. You’re looking at about another $2,000 to get a few of the goodies that the Civic Si w/ Navi comes with. To get navigation, you need to jump into the Autobahn trim and pay around $29,500.

2015 Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX

One sedan that I can say competes with the Si is the WRX, but its 268-horsepower, 258-pound-feet boxer-four slaughters the Civic Si. This is compounded when you compare the WRX’s powerband to that of the Si — the WRX’s peak torque ranges from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm and its peak horsepower comes in at 5,600 rpm. These nearly overlapping maximums make for an easy-to-find powerband that keeps the WRX accelerating consistently through the revs. This will lead to a 0-to-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds, making it much faster than the Civic and VW.

Like the GTI, the WRX does have two transmission options. One is a six-speed manual and the other is the Sport Lineartronic CVT with six- and eight-speed manual modes. The WRX takes the cake with its standard AWD system, something neither Volkwwagen nor Honda can boast.

The downside to the WRX is that it starts out at $26,295 and lacks navigation. But, I think the AWD makes up for the lack of navi. Then again, the 2015 WRX is pretty ugly.

2014 Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST is likely the closest to matching the available amenities of the Si I tested while keeping near that $25k price tag. In terms of performance, the Focus ST carries a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that pumps out 252 ponies and 270 pound-feet of twist. This power travels through a six-speed manual on its way to the front wheels. With the right driver at the helm, the Focus ST can hit 60 mph in around six ticks of the second hand and deliver 32 mpg on the highway when needed.

In terms of pricing, the ST bases at $23,625, but adding enough creature comforts to match the Si I drove brings the price to $26,890. That price also includes stylish, partial-leather seats.

Conclusion

Honda Civic Si Sedan - Driven

Back in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the Civic Si reigned supreme as the king of the compact imports, thanks to its relatively powerful engine, upgraded suspension and legendary reliability. Though the Civic Si is now better than ever, it has since lost its seat at the head of the class to turbocharged imports that easily crest 250 ponies. That’s not to say that the Civic Si is bad by any means. As you can see, it is significantly cheaper than its rivals, has more features for the money, and is still fairly powerful.

In the current automotive world, the Civic Si is more of a `tweener car that splits the difference between the mainstream Corollas and Fortes of the world and the extreme WRXs and Focus STs. With it satisfying a very narrow niche, it is only a matter of time before Honda decides to add a turbocharger to the Civic and let it play with the big boys, either with an Si or Type-R badge.

LOVE IT
  • Amazingly quick with the right driver
  • Pretty stylish for a warmed-over econo-box
  • Stylish interior
  • Loaded with a ton of tech gadgetry
  • Gets the advertised combined fuel economy even when flogged
  • Handles like a more expensive car
  • Price is right
LEAVE IT
  • The powerband is very narrow and things get buzzy near peak horsepower
  • Traction control turns back on with every key cycle
  • Ride may be an issue with some
  • Underpowered when compared to others in its niche class

What is your take?

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