Not one performance car exists without compromise, and when it comes to more affordable performance offerings, these concessions are often evident where we spend the most time: inside the car. The 2022 Honda Civic Si bucks this trend, giving customers an interior that will easily put much pricier sport compacts to shame.Honda introduced the eleventh-generation Civic platform for 2022, including a new Si. Much of the outgoing Si’s recipe remains, including its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, though output has dropped slightly to 200 horsepower. The five-horsepower drop is salved by a broader torque curve, which peaks at 192 lb-ft between 1800 and 5000 rpm. Honda also designed a new flywheel for the engine, which comes in at 30 percent lighter than the outgoing unit. A six-speed manual is the only gearbox on offer, as The Good Lord intended. Along with the more-subdued bodywork and the aforementioned powertrain tweaks, Honda reworked every new Civic’s interior, and it’s clear from a glance that its designers executed the Si’s insides with real vision. The dash layout looks sparse but is laid out intelligently, with only the gauge binnacle and a 9-inch infotainment screen upsetting a visual through line which runs from one end of the dash to the other. Honda continues this horizontal motif with a long strip of honeycomb-patterned trim, which hides the climate vents. The piece is a unique and gorgeous bit of design in 2022’s sport-compact market, one that feels fit for a vehicle much more expensive than the Civic. The patterned strip would even feel at home on the dash of a Sixties Porsche 911, as Honda basically lifted the idea straight off that classic sports coupe. Furthermore, the materials used to create this motif hold up well to a touch test, bereft of cost-cutting flimsiness. The same can be said for the Si’s rubberized vent control knobs, which provide a satisfying click when returned to their center position. The Civic’s interior also features plenty of hard buttons and knurled knobs instead of relegating every cockpit input to the infotainment screen. This allows your eyes to stay glued to the road when adjusting the HVAC or radio volume. The dual-tone cloth seats don’t leave one yearning for leather, though their lack of power adjustment is notable. The steering wheel comes wrapped in leather, complete with red stitching which mirrors the honeycomb pattern on the dash. Even the turn-signal and windshield-washer stalks are well weighted, providing crisp feedback with each actuation. Of course, the real star of any Si is the shifter, in this case a leather-wrapped aluminum joint. Shift action feels short and direct, with tightly spaced gates that shine on a switchback road. Paired to a more responsive engine, the Si’s shifter feels as enjoyable to work as anything this side of Porsche.
For a car that starts at $27,300, the Civic Si provides a cohesive sporting experience inside and out. That’s somewhat of a rarity in the segment. Vehicles like the new GTI, or even the Golf R, offer buyers more power and better on-paper performance. But those vehicles are hampered by an interior (and especially an infotainment nightmare) that doesn’t respect its driver as completely. The hot Golfs incorporate similar design elements to the Civic, yet VW’s materials and execution just don’t live up to this Japanese sedan. Honda’s decision to invest in the Si’s interior might not help buyers win any street races, but it might help get them into the seats in the first place.