2013 Honda Civic Si: New sporty look rekindles iconic reputation

James Raia

The 2013 Honda Civic Si has a new look and feell

Despite its lofty, top-10 perennial yearly sales status and more than 40-year longevity, the ninth generation Honda Civic was hastily introduced in 2012 among quickly increasing competition. Some critics called it a disaster, other were more kind with descriptions like ill conceived.

As a result, for second straight year, Honda re-did the Civic for 2013. It’s not a new generation, but there are enough changes everywhere on the car that the Civic’s fall from grace was a one-year-and-out ordeal. The Civic is back strong and in its proper and well-deserved place among the most successful cars in history.


The Weekly Driver Test Drive

It’s a toss up most of the time. The convenience of an automatic transmission, particularly with continuously variable transmission, versus the sportiness and control of a manual transmission.

The 2013 Honda Civic Si has a new sporty look
2013 Honda Civic Si has a new look. Images © James Raia/2013

With the 2013 Honda Civic Si, there’s no transmission choice. The coupe and sedan only have a six-speed manual transmission option, which is a good thing. It further complements the once basic, competent Civic into its current sports car-like coupe or sedan.

My weekly driver was the 2-door, 4-seat coupe. In addition to 17-inch wheels, the re-tweaked Civic has a new front grille, a new rear design and a host of other more subtle upgrades, including better-constructed seats. The more handsome sculpted design is matched with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, 201 horsepower engine.

Driving the 2013 Civic is surprising since its personality — handling to acceleration — is more like its upscale relative, Acura. Which makes a lot of sense; the new Civic engine is a transplant from an Acura TSX.

The 2013 Civic Si has a healthy collection of standard and optional features, the former list including a rear view camera to a sunroof and a seven-speaker sound system to leather-wrapped steering wheel and fog lights. My weekly driver featured the options of XM Radio, navigation system and summer tires.

The 2013 Honda Civic Si has a new look and feell
The Dyno Blue Pearl exterior shines on 2013 Honda Civic Si

The new Honda Civic Si is grouped in a buying segment that includes the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI, MINI Cooper S and Subaru Impreza WRX. It’s a competitive cast.

The Civic Si can’t match the niche attraction of the MINI nor the Subaru’s well-touted acceleration prowess. But the new Civic Si has no weaknesses and who’s to argue with its longevity and high resale value?


Angled, corner-mounted speakers.

Newly designed front grille.

Upgraded seat construction.

Navigation screen clarity

Stiff, tight ride.

Signature Honda two-level dash.

Exterior paint color: Dyno Blue Pearl. It’s deep and rich.

Overall comfort.


Could have better gas mileage averages in a competitive segment.

Facts & Figures: 2013 Honda Civic Si

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.9 seconds
Airbags (6).
First aid kit: No.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway).
Government Safety Ratings: NTHSA, not yet rated; IHHS, Good, all categories and selected as top safety pick.
Horsepower: 201
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $22,515-24,215.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.honda.com.
Price As tested: Unavailable
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“Whereas the new 2013 Civic sedan now looks quite handsome, the 2013 Civic Si coupe is still missing something. Sure, the updated Si coupe now has black-painted pockets in its wheels as well as revised front and rear fascias compared to the non-Si coupe, but it’s still just a bit too, well, mature, and it’s lacking a throaty exhaust note, too.” —- MotorTrend.

“While the peak numbers being larger are of course a welcome change, the real key change is that the power comes at lower engine speeds. The outgoing model required 7,800 rpms to hit its peak horsepower and 6,100 rpm for peak torque, now the Civic Si engine requires just 7,000 rpm for peak hp and 4,400 rpm for max torque. This change in the usable power band equates to a much more street-friendly driving experience.” —- LeftLaneNews.com.

“The Civic’s now a car that’s fun to drive, not one that’s just OK. It feels as if it’s a credible contender for best compact.” —- USA Today.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“After more than 40 years, the Honda Civic is like an old rock & roll band. You know what’s coming, but with a new spin and a new attitude, it still has a lot to offer. The Si is like a terrific encore after a terrific show — even there were a few bad chords along the way.”

Article Last Updated: March 14, 2014.

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