- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2007

When the Si version of the Honda Civic first appeared on the scene in 1986, it instantly won the hearts of the “tuner” crowd. With the “S” standing for Sport, which Honda first offered in 1983, the Si is for Sport Injection.

That first Si model was powered by a 1.5 liter, four-cylinder, multi-point fuel injected engine producing 91 horsepower and featuring specific additional handling improvements. The Si went away for a period, only to return by popular demand after a very brief hiatus. For those who lusted after the sporty, diminutive, hot hatchback, it’s back with updated styling to match the rest of the Civic stable. Now, an Si sedan has been added to the stable for the first time.

Distinctive exterior touches include: the deck wing or spoiler, aero cladding, 17-inch five-double-spoke alloy wheels shod with low-profile rubber and Si badging. Inside unique offerings are: deeply bolstered seats with red stitching, white face gauges and an aluminum shift knob, which combine to add a sporty flavor.

A huge movement commonly referred to as “hot rodding” permeated the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, encompassing all of the above factors — perhaps somewhat crudely at first but becoming progressively more refined with the passing of each decade. What was once known as hot rodding has come to be called “street rodding” today and is now more popular than ever, giving rise to a huge availability of after-market parts and accessories through a vast infrastructure.

Today’s movement comes from the Pacific Rim “Rods” — Asian model cars that are readily available and affordable with a huge offering of after-market parts and accessories geared not only to appearance modification but to performance enhancement as well.

It wouldn’t be proper to call either Honda’s Civic Si Coupe or Sedan a “Boy Racer,” as there are an impressive number of young women that are just as involved in the customizing and racing of these nouveau hot rods.

The Honda Si for 2007 provides enthusiasts with a 2-liter DOHC i-VTEC, 16-valve four-banger that delivers a healthy 197 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, mated to a close ratio, six-speed manual transmission with a helical-type limited slip differential as standard fare.

Both Si models give off a visual image of speed, even when parked — nothing too far out of the ordinary at first glance, but in the upper rev ranges, the Si is capable of delivering one exhilarating ride.

The Honda Si test four-door Sedan sported a Habanero Red Pearl metallic exterior finish complemented by a black and gray interior, accented by red stitching, aluma-look trim on the doors, center console and steering wheel.

Extras included: XM satellite radio and a navigation system.

The base price was set at $23,240 while more destination and handling charges brought the final total before tax and license to $23,835. The Si appears to ride lower than your average Honda Civic because of the ground effects, and the chin spoiler and lower side sills accompanied by the low profile rubber on multi-spoke alloy wheels a combination that tends to prompt admiring second glances from in-the-know enthusiasts.

The rear spoiler, mesh front grille and large exhaust tip are other “dead giveaways” to the car’s performance capability.

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