The 2012 Honda Civic Si introduces very few exterior styling changes, but makes some big updates to the powertrain. That's just about the opposite of what we expected, and it turns out that it may be the opposite of what the typical enthusiast wants, too. Our overall rating of 7 reflects those changes, but also shows there's still a lot to like about the new Si.
How, you ask? For 2012, the Civic Si ditches its scrappy, high-revving 2.0-liter four-cylinder and attempts to turn the dial to 11 with a new 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four-pot. The problem is that it's not as ready to rev, it doesn't rev as high, and there's not as much of an increase in usable torque as you might expect. Worse, it's less fuel-efficent than the 2.0 that came before it (the 2.4 rates 22/31 mpg city/highway for 25 mpg combined), it's noisier, and it doesn't respond as crisply.
On the plus side, the chassis is still good, though it doesn't feel as sharp as the previous Si. Still, for a front-drive two- or four-door, it's among the better options on the market. Ride comfort, as with all Si models, is lower than a typical car, but buyers interested in the sporty model will likely find it worth living with.
There's quite a bit of noise and rumble in the new car, more than in previous models. Both the sport-tuned chassis and the new engine contribute to this effect. Overall materials and comfort are good, however, though the Si falls victim to some of the same faults as the standard Civic: hard, thin-feeling plastic on the top of the dash, a somewhat bizarre curvature, and lots of flat gray plastic on non-navigation-equipped models. Other shortcomings compared to the competition include missing bottle holders in the doors, no rear-seat power outlet, and no handy rubber-bottomed tray to keep phones and other gadgets from sliding around.
Given its bargain pricing, however, it's hard to argue with the overall package of the Civic Si. Standard features in navigation-equipped models include: a 360-watt seven-speaker audio system, MP3/USB/Bluetooth handsfree/auxiliary input, power accessories, a full host of airbags, ABS, stability control (VSA), and more.
For the full details on the 2012 Honda Civic, including the sporty Si, check out TheCarConnection's review