Sometimes, even the great ones lose their way. Ernest Hemmingway, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain – all talented, tormented pop culture figures who met untimely ends. Neither fame, nor fortune, nor fan adoration could save them from themselves. The same could be said of the Honda Civic Si, which has “died” on three separate occasions in its short 20-year lifespan, despite being among the most loved, cherished and revered nameplates in the history of Japanese automobiles.
Honda, known more for technological innovation, environmental responsibility, and relentlessly reliable cars and – more recently – trucks, falters infrequently. But after the sweet Civic Si Coupe, the pinnacle of the Si dynasty, was cancelled after the 2000 model year, Honda followed up with a funky looking, English-built hatchback that had its shifter jutting out of the dashboard, rally-style. No, this stumble wasn’t a hip crusher like the Civic CRX/del Sol debacle of the early 1990s, but the shine came off the Si badge just the same.
Now, for 2006, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Civic Si, Honda unleashes a completely redesigned version of its performance icon, based on a two-door coupe body style and sporting enough fun-to-drive hardware that it instantly becomes the new standard by which sport compact cars must be measured.
For less than $20,000, the 2006 Honda Civic Si comes equipped with a 197-hp engine with a rev-limit warning light, six-speed manual transmission, helical limited-slip differential, 17-inch wheels and tires, stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, snugger seats, rear wing spoiler, and throaty sport-tuned exhaust.