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July 5, 2006 > 2006 Honda Civic Si

2006 Honda Civic Si

by Dick Ryan

The Civic has been sold in the USA since 1973, about 7.3 million of them so far. The Si is the high performance version of the Civic line. It has been redesigned for 2006 (now the eighth generation) and the two-door body style (the basis for the Si) looks great, growing by 9 inches over the 2005 version.

The heart of the Si lives under its hood. Honda uses its variable valve timing technology to coax 197 horsepower (and 139 foot pounds of torque) out of 2.0 liters of DOHC, 4-cylinder displacement. The timing shift occurs at 5800 rpm and runs up to its 8000 rpm redline. Honda's first 6-speed manual gearbox sold in the U.S. is mated to the motor. This combination is a blast to drive.

So all that power doesn't go to waste, Honda beefs up the Civic Si's suspension, brakes, rubber, and adds a limited slip differential. The suspension settings and components are much more aggressive than the standard Civic. The Si corners with less body roll and crisp, clean handling. The Si's brakes are increased from 10 inches and 9 inches (front and rear for the standard Civic) to 11.8 inches and 10.2 inches. ABS is standard on all Civics. Completing the performance package, our Si wore the optional 215/45 summer performance tires on its 7-inch by 17-inch wheels. The standard Civic gets standard tires on its 5-inch by 14-inch wheels.

Front wheel drive cars exhibit more understeer than rear wheel drive cars, and the Civic Si is no exception. The understeer isn't bad in most driving situations; it's just part of the Si experience. If you take the Si out on the track or to an autocross, expect a lot of front-end push.

I have heard some people call the new Civic's dash funky; it is different and does take some getting used to. The speedometer seems much farther away from you than it really is, but is easy to read and understand. The tachometer is right where it should be, dead square in front of you.

The whole interior works well. Not only does the steering wheel adjust up and down, but it also telescopes in and out. This makes it easy for anyone to find a good driving position. The seats have a distinctive "Si" logo and feel great. The pedal arrangement is good and it has a large trunk.  However, the rear seat is a really tight fit for anyone over 3 feet tall. The Si comes with a great 350 watt, 7-speaker AM/FM/CD sound system.

The connection between the shift lever and the transmission isn't as precise as it could be. In fact, in the heat of having fun, my "should have been" fourth to fifth upshift turned out to be an "Oh No!" fourth to third downshift. I caught the mistake before engine parts came flying up through the hood.

The MSRP for our test Si was $19,990 with a $550 destination charge. Because the Si is popular, many dealers are tacking on an "added dealer markup."

Now if Honda would just tighten up the shifter linkage and dial out some of the "at the limit" understeer, the 2006 Civic Si would jump from very good to terrific.

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