Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: 2013 Honda Civic Si Coupe

2013 Honda Civic Si coupe front 3/4 view
Photo by Curtis Reesor
Did you ever date that person that is smart, athletic, and great to hang out with, but there is no physical attraction? Every now and then you would think to yourself, if he/she was a looker, they’d be the total package. For me, that’s the ninth (and current) generation Honda Civic Si Coupe.

I reviewed the 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe least year. I loved the high-revving engine, the stellar six-speed manual transmission, and outstanding driving dynamics. I didn’t particularly like the vehicle’s shape and felt that some of the interior materials were lacking.

You may remember that Honda did an emergency redesign to its ’13 Civics due to some of the above-mentioned items I described. That redesign went all across the model line including the Si.

Much of the Si hasn’t changed, for better or for worse. You still get the extraordinary engine and transmission combo that loves to rev and is an absolute pleasure to row through the gears. It’s still one of the best transmissions you can shift yourself. And that 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine is a hoot to rev and it sounds so wonderful. Perhaps it’s my past dyed-in-the-wool Hondaphile coming back out, but I just love the symphony of sound this car produces.

2013 Honda Civic Si left front
Photo by Curtis Reesor
But while there have been minor revisions to the exterior, I still cannot warm up to this car’s looks. I want to love it. I keep waiting to be swept off of my feet, but it just doesn’t happen no matter how long I look at it. Granted, it does look better from some angles rather than others, but there isn’t a single viewpoint that makes me think: Damn, that’s a fine looking automobile. Our photographer, Curtis, thought the car’s appearance seems to morph depending on the angles you look at it, and I agree. Nearly everyone concurs that it looks long and somewhat peculiar. And those wheels: I think they’re extremely unattractive. My friend Scott said they remind him of the rolling stock from a Hot Wheels car. (Bingo … think about it.) I wish I could warm up to the car’s appearance since it has so much going for it in terms of performance and driving dynamics, but alas.

2013 Honda Civic Si Coupe interior

What has been improved is the interior. The materials feel much better. The soft-touch dash looks good. The carbon-fiber trimmed dash, which I assume is not real carbon fiber, actually looks great. Overall, the cockpit feels and looks better than the ’12 model. And fortunately, the seats are still fantastic; the ergonomics are still at the top of their game.

2.4 liter Honda Civic engine
Interestingly, I found the ’13 Civic Si even more fun than the ’12. I don’t know if that’s psychosomatic or if I’m really noticing a difference, mostly in suspension tuning, but I had an absolute blast with this car. It might not be the fastest compact out there these days, but you can easily make the most of that 201 naturally aspirated horsepower. The engine/transmission combo works harmoniously together. It almost always feels like you’re in the right gear and in the power band.

The car was equally as rewarding in the curves as it was from stoplight to stoplight. The limited-slip differential pulls the car through corners. Cornering is flat, well controlled, and confident. The highway ride won’t jar your teeth out, and there weren’t any squeaks or rattles to be heard; it felt very tight, very well built.

The Si had a rear view camera, navigation, Bluetooth, a USB audio interface, and a 360 watt audio system with seven speakers and as subwoofer. The audio is not as good as I would’ve expected. Even though there’s a subwoofer, I longed for more low-range tone. Plus, the stereo didn’t seem to get as loud as my punk-ass boom-through-the-neighborhood self would’ve liked it. I swear I turn the stereo down when I get into the neighborhood, don’t worry.

2013 Honda Civic Si Coupe rear 3/4
Photo by Curtis Reesor
This ’13 Civic Si Coupe with navigation stickered out at $24,805 including $790 in destination, or roughly $400 more than the ’12. It’s certainly within the boundaries of affordability for a sporty compact car, and frankly, this is one of the best non-turbo four cylinders out there, even with front-wheel drive. Again, I wish I could get wholeheartedly behind this car, but its looks are too polarizing to me. Maybe with the right set of wheels and a slightly lowered stance, the Civic Si Coupe might woo me. But right now, I think we’ll just be friends.

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