TO THE POINTWhat’s New? With 197 horsepower flowing through a six-speed manual gearbox to a helical limited-slip differential and 17-inch Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 summer tires, does it matter what else might be new on the 2006 Honda Civic Si? Selling Points: Sleek styling, sophisticated engineering, comfortable front seats, lots of standard safety equipment, reputation for reliability, amazing performance Deal Breakers: Cramped back seat, funky dash design Our Advice: Honda unleashes a redesigned 2006 Civic Si, equipped with enough performance hardware that it sets the new standard by which sport compact cars must be measured.
On the track, the stock Civic Si’s body dove, squatted, and leaned more than a track-ready set of wheels, taxing the Michelin summer tires to some degree, but these character traits detracted not at all from the fun and aren’t discernable on real roads in the real world. And to the car’s credit, we drove it as hard as we could and experienced only a hint of brake fade on the final two laps – and then only when braking hard from near triple-digit speeds. We even checked the Michelins’ front sidewalls after the flogging, and the shoulders of the tread still looked great. Heel-and-toe shifting is easy, the shift lever falls readily to hand, and there aren’t any uncomfortable spots where the driver’s legs brace for turns. The Civic Si’s thickly bolstered seats hold the driver still, and sightlines are good even if the A-pillars are a tad thick for track work. And, the car will even rotate a bit if you trail brake into a tight corner.