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2012 Honda Civic SI Coupe - Not For Amateurs

Honda’s Latest Civic Si Is Just What You’ve Been Waiting For

Jonathon Wong
Jul 7, 2011
Photographer: Courtesy of American Honda

As a longtime Civic Si owner, I know what it’s like to wait in anticipation for that next generation model, hoping (sometimes praying) that it’s every bit as good as the last one was. I never thought anything would be better than my old ’91 Si, but then the EG hatch came along. I wasn’t crazy about the rounded shape but the ease of transplanting a twin-cam engine into it made it lovable; same goes for the EK hatch (technically speaking, we know there was a decent coupe) although we can never understand why no Si model came about or why we never received the Type R like the Japanese and European markets (yes, we’re still bitter about this). Now, as we are about to receive the latest and greatest, I feel I can read your mind; you’re already thinking, “what an ugly Civic that is”. Don’t act like you aren’t because everyone’s been hating on this latest model right after concept drawings and initial photos made their way to the Internet. But as we all know, there comes a time when you’ll love it, sooner or later; it’s just the way of the world. In the ninth gen lineup of the Civic comes this flagship Si model, offered in both a coupe and sedan version, and while we loved the recent FD2 chassis sedan, as of press time there was no 4-door to drive, nor are there very many photos of it at all, so I’ll walk you through the coupe until we’re able to drive the sedan.

  |   2012 Honda Civic SI Coupe - Not For Amateurs

The styling for all of the 2012 Civics aren’t too far of a cry from the previous generation except for a few tweaks that I’ll leave up to you for subjective debate. I think what you’re probably more interested in anyway is how the new Si performs and drives. Plant yourself inside the car and it’s a ‘prepare for lift-off’ moment with front seats specially wrapped in materials only available for the Si, as well as other exclusive to the Si-only parts, like a shift knob, steering wheel and an i-VTEC REV indicator that lights up as you go through all six gears with the brightest light popping on as you engage i-VTEC at max output (that’s 7K rpm). Effectively, Honda took an old school favorite of ours—a shift light—and placed it conveniently to the left of the speedometer, and, as you toggle through the Multi Information Display (MID), there is a Si-only Power Monitor that shows you the output/horsepower ratio while you’re driving. But let’s talk more about what you’ve all been waiting for, the Si’s all-new K24.

  |   2012 Honda Civic SI Coupe - Not For Amateurs

I was especially pleased with this K24 because it has the most potential to become the next wave of must-have K-series engines, both if you plan on buying this car outright or if you plan on tracking one of them down for an engine swap. While it’s only up 4hp overall from the previous generation, Honda more than makes up for it by serving you with a very generous helping of torque at 31lb-ft. So as you’re cruising in lower gears, you no longer need a quick downshift to get going; just punch it and up, up, here we go; the K24 also produces a nice deep tone that resonates as you power up from lower rpm. The transmission was also designed to work better with this new K24 to help out both driving performance and fuel economy as it uses slightly shorter 5th and 6th gears, a lightweight clutch and even a helical limited slip differential to put the power out to both front wheels. Besides being a torque-wielding beast, this is also one of Honda’s most fuel-efficient ULEV-2 K motors, providing you with 22 city/31 highway mpg. For would-be swappers who are thinking of getting one of these in the future, we’d hope that someone perhaps swaps a higher flowing Type R head and intake manifold on which might yield more impressive horsepower figures since the top end on this motor stock is not as mindblowing as the bottom end torque. The potential is extremely strong here.

  |   2012 Honda Civic SI Coupe - Not For Amateurs

For all other points of interest related to the Si sedan, you’ll be delighted to know that if you were going to be deciding between this and the rest of the Civics, that the Si has the best suspension setup with stiffer springs, thicker sway bars and the largest wheels of the bunch at 17-inches, so that makes the Si the Mandingo of the crew. The front end comes with a different upper/lower grille and front foglights while the rear bumper has a black painted diffuser and special exhaust tip. The Si sedan should also come with similar design cues, but both will come outfitted with a 360W 7-speaker audio system (also available for the EX-L coupe) that integrates well with the car’s MID.

  |   2012 Honda Civic SI Coupe - Not For Amateurs

So if you think this Si sucks, we highly encourage you to think again. Honda’s all about setting the bar high with each generation and with this K24 as its heart and soul, there’s no telling how popular this car might become. Imagine a Mugen RR version of this? Evasive Motorsports upgrading from a FD2? Get over the looks and get ready for the power potential is what I say.

That New Car Smell

2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe
The Sticker Pricing TBA
Engine 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC K24
The Power 201hp at 7,000rpm; 170lb-ft at 4,300rpm
Scale Tipping 2,874lbs
Layout Front engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission 6-speed manual transmission; helical limited-slip differential
Footwork & Chassis MacPherson strut front suspension; Multi-Link rear suspension; 18mm front/15mm rear sway bars
Wheels & Tires 17" alloy wheels with 215/45R17 all-season tires or optional 215/45R17 Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 performance tires
At The Pump 22 (city)/31 (highway)/25 (combined)
The Competition Mazda RX-8, Subaru Impreza, Scion tC
Deep Thoughts Although they always grow on you, the Civic Si coupe and sedan offer a K24 that is one of the most fun to drive yet. We can’t wait to see how people are going to tune them in the future.

By Jonathon Wong
10 Articles

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