Civic Si: A Welcome Improvement

Likewise, the Civic Si, one of the first "hot hatches," has been fighting for its life as other automakers have improved their sport compacts' low-rev acceleration through the use of direct injection and/or turbocharging. Since it first incorporated variable valve timing — another major innovation from Honda — the Si has required high engine speeds to tap into its power band. The new engine's greater displacement is a welcome improvement, as it boosts the torque output to 170 pounds-feet at 4,300 rpm from the 2.0-liter's 139 pounds-feet at 6,100 rpm. The power peak adds 4 hp to 201 hp, but it's come down to 7,000 rpm from 7,800 rpm.

The 2012 Si launches with more authority, even spinning its wheels if you let it. The short-throw shifter is far more satisfying than the standard five-speed stick, operating six forward gears with close ratios optimized for the new engine. Even though the Si's output is greater, some competing sport compacts — the Volkswagen GTI, Mini Cooper S, Mazdaspeed3 and Subaru Impreza WRX — produce torque that's greater and/or at substantially lower rpm. Because most of these competitors are heavier, by as much as 400 pounds, it's not a perfect comparison, and the payoff for the Si is better mileage: Its 22/31 mpg beats the GTI by 1 mpg city and the Mazdaspeed3 and WRX by as much as 6 mpg on the highway.

    See also:

    All ChildrenMust Be Restrained
    Each year, many children are injured or killed in vehicle crashes because they are either unrestrained or not properly restrained. In fact, vehicle accidents are the number one cause of the ...

    Value for money
    The Honda CR-V has always been recognised as offering value-for-money specification and the new car's equipment levels will continue to impress. SE grades come equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, ...

    Manual transmission models - Shifting
    ■Shift Lever Operation Fully depress the clutch pedal to operate the shift lever and change gears, then slowly release the pedal. Depress the clutch pedal, and pause for a few seconds befo ...