CANTIL, Calif. — When the latest flavors of Honda’s prolific Civic nameplate — this time it’s the Si coupe and sedan — went on sale last month, two numbers stood out: 205 and 24,775.
The first number is the 2017 Civic Si’s horsepower rating. Fans of the previous version will recognize that as the exact same output as before, but it’s now coming from a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is becoming ubiquitous throughout Honda’s lineup. Torque is also improved, now rated at 192 pounds-feet compared with 174 pounds-feet.
While 205 hp is nothing to sneeze at, the switch to a turbo engine had many Si fans hoping for more. And more is possible, according to Honda engineers. But there’s a reason for the current number.
The engineers said “you can tune more power into it, but all of that takes away from the durability of the engine,” Rob Keough, senior product planner on the Civic, told Automotive News at Honda’s proving grounds. “Honda likes to build their engines to last hundreds of thousands of miles, so they’re working toward that target.”
Honda was also keen to keep the Civic Si affordable, and that’s where the $24,775 comes in. It’s the base price including destination for the coupe or sedan and includes such standard goodies as a sunroof, sport mode with adaptive suspension and a limited-slip differential.
Honda Civic senior project manager
That price was made possible by the sheer volumes of 10th-generation Civics Honda has sold over the past two years — well over 500,000 — Keough said.
Using the larger 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s in the Civic Type R would have radically shifted what the Si was. Even tuned down from the Type R’s 306 hp, such an Si would have cost closer to $30,000 — too rich for Honda’s blood.
“The Si has always been in the [price] range that it’s in,” Keough said. “We wanted it to be attainable and affordable, so our target for Si was really to come in at this price point with this performance level.”
But he didn’t rule out a model to slot between the Si and the Type R, which is expected to start around $34,000. Such a variant could use the smaller 1.5-liter if needed.
“There’s maybe other configurations and things that they can do with this motor,” Keough said of his engineers. He also didn’t rule out using a detuned Type R motor.
“The market will tell us and then we’ll see what we can do about it,” he added.