Honda, for the first time ever, is ditching their famous naturally aspirated VTEC engine and replacing it with a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder for the 2017 Honda Civic Si. Is the new turbocharged engine better than the VTEC powerplant?
It’s a sign of the times. Turbocharged engines are getting put into everything from pickup trucks to sports cars. Gone are the days where only the most performance oriented models got a turbocharged engine. Turbocharging allows manufacturers to reduce the displace and emissions of an engine while maintaining, or even increasing, power output. Turbocharging also allows most engines to make a more linear power curve usually starting at lower RPMs.
Honda has applied this technology to their sporty Civic Si. Gone is the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four cylinder. The replacement engine is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. That represents a torque increase of 18 lb-ft and similar horsepower figures. The turbocharged engine allows the driver to have more power in the lower rev range and equipped with the standard 6-speed transmission, allows the Civic Si to accelerate faster.
The 1.5-liter engine doesn’t have VTEC. Instead, Honda has equipped the engine with camshaft variable timing control (VTC). This technology is always active and allows only the intake camshaft to be advanced or retarded. VTEC, variable valve timing and lift electronic control, which worked on both the intake and exhaust cam is gone.
Honda claims the new Si is significantly lighter than the previous generation but didn’t include any specific information. The new Si features a more rigid body and a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer shocks and springs. Notable standard equipment includes a limited slip differential, adaptive damper system, and 12.3-inch front brake rotors.
The exterior of the car has subtle clues that it is a sportier model. The most obvious are the 18-inch wheels, black trim on the front fascia with Si badges, and a center exit exhaust. The side vents are also larger on the Si.
The standard equipment for the interior is also improved. Heated seats, digital climate control, a 450-watt stereo, rain sensing wipers, and bolstered sports seats are standard. The fake carbon fiber trim (why), red digital gauge cluster, and red stitching announce to the world that you are indeed driving a Si.
The Si will be available starting in May of 2017 with an estimated base price in the mid-$20,000s. Is that enough equipment and performance to outdo the competition? It’s really hard to say, but the new Si does bring a slew of updates to the fight.