Before the video game Gran Turismo came along, Honda had a lock on youthful
buyers with the Civic.
Fun to drive, reliable, and equipped with
technologically advanced and fuel-efficient engines, Honda Civics could be
easily tailored to the owner's personality through myriad aftermarket parts
catalogs and websites.
But then the PlayStation gaming system exploded into living rooms, exposing
the youth of America to Civic alternatives ranging from aging Nissan 240SXs to
hyper Mitsubishi Evolutions. Honda responded by killing the handsome Civic Si
coupe after the 1999 model year, and by dropping the Civic's popular
double-wishbone suspension system with a 2001 redesign. In 2002, the Civic Si
returned as a 160-horsepower version of the Europe-only hatchback, which looked
like a doorstop and didn't possess the increasingly popular aggressiveness
popularized by drivel such as "Too Fast, Too Furious."
With the debut of the Honda Civic Si Concept, a barely disguised version of
what will appear in showrooms for 2006, Honda makes it clear that it still wants
its slice of the sport-compact pie. Honda has also announced that the production
version of the Si will debut at the 2005 Specialty Equipment Marketers
Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas in November, and that Honda is SEMA's
official vehicle manufacturer for the show - which means scores of modified new
2006 Civics adorned with scantily clad women will litter the desert floor come
Until SEMA, the Honda Civic Si Concept not only signals a return of America's
favorite compact car to favor among aftermarketers, but it foreshadows the
entire redesigned 2006 Honda Civic lineup, which includes coupes and sedans in
various states of trim, the performance-oriented Si Coupe, the environmentally
responsible Civic Hybrid sedan with updated Integrated Motor Assist (IMA)
technology, and the natural-gas powered GX sedan.
John Mendel, Senior Vice President, Automobile Operations for American Honda,
promises, "The new Civic will be the safest car in its class, bar none."
Standard equipment on every 2006 Civic will include antilock brakes, side-impact
airbags, and side-curtain airbags. More details on the redesigned 2006 Honda
Civic lineup will be available at a later date.
It's been 20 years since the first Honda Civic Si arrived in the U.S. for the
1984 model year, and Honda says that the 2006 Civic Si will be the fastest and
most powerful production Civic ever. A 200-horsepower, 16-valve,
dual-overhead cam, inline four-cylinder engine with an 8,000 rpm redline boasts
the latest generation of i-VTEC technology to produce optimum power, optimum
efficiency, and optimum levels of emissions.
A close-ratio six-speed manual transmission delivers power to the front
wheels, and the engine breathes through a sport-tuned exhaust system that sounds
terrific. Honda recorded a production Civic Si making a run through the gears
and played it during the concept's introduction to reporters. It sounded more
powerful, and more exotic, than a four-cylinder ought to. Keeping that power
flowing to the ground is a standard helical-type limited slip front
Large 18-inch alloy wheels wearing 225/40 performance tires filled the wheel
wells on the Honda Civic Si Concept, fronting four-wheel-disc brakes with
cross-drilled rotors and Brembo four-piston calipers. But these rotors and
calipers are just for show, like the glossy black-painted hood, giant rear
decklid wing, and the air diffuser with center-mounted exhaust mounted under the
What will translate to showrooms is the Honda Civic Si Concept's swept
roofline and ultra-fast windshield rake, which present a gentle arc that
stretches from front to rear. There's plenty of Acura in the Civic Si Concept's
face, which results in a more aggressive appearance, but the flanks are plain
despite better elegance and flow than a Scion tC. Don't expect the full aero kit
on the Honda Civic Si Concept to be standard when the car goes on sale early in
Mendel calls the Honda Civic Si concept, "Fast, fun, and full of what makes a
Civic, a Civic." Let's hope Honda was smart enough to get the car programmed for
inclusion in the next iteration of every driving enthusiast's favorite video
game, Gran Turismo 4.