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Do You Need the Civic Si When There's the Sport?

Do You Need the Civic Si When There's the Sport?

— Honda's latest Civic has trims and body styles galore. With the recent release of the 2017 Civic Si, there are now five rather distinct Civics available: coupe, sedan, hatchback, Si sedan and Si coupe. And the Type R is coming.

Honda priced the Si aggressively. Both coupe and sedan models start at $24,775 (including destination), which is cheaper than the next tier of front-wheel-drive performance compacts like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Subaru WRX but more than the Hyundai Elantra Sport. Its closest price competitor is the Nissan Sentra NISMO, but to find its closest competitor in many other categories, the Si doesn't have to go far — just across the garage to one of its siblings.

The Civic hatchback offers two sport trims, Sport and Sport Touring, with a pretty wide pricing gulf between them. The Sport starts at $22,175, while the Sport Touring jumps all the way up to $29,175. The Civic Si aligns more closely with the Sport in terms of pricing, so that's the one we'll use for this comparison.

Styling

2017 Honda Civic Sport, Si

Honda recycled several key exterior parts from the hatchback for use on the Si — including both front and rear bumpers, 18-inch alloy wheels and a center-mounted exhaust, though the hatchback has dual circular pipes while the Si features a wide, trapezoidal exhaust. From the front, the two models look exceptionally similar; in fact, were it not for the red "Si" badge mounted on the grille, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart from the front.

The biggest differentiator between the two is in the rear, where the hatchback's liftgate gives it a different profile and both Si variants have a more prominent spoiler. Taken on its own, the hatchback Sport looks just as aggressive as the Si.

Winner: Tie

Performance

2017 Honda Civic Si

The Si easily takes the cake here. While I enjoyed driving the Sport in both manual and continuously variable automatic forms, which will cost you an additional $800, the Si still boasts a clear mechanical superiority: It pulls more power from the 1.5-liter four-cylinder Used Engine , bumping output to 205 horsepower and 192 pounds-feet of torque thanks to a larger turbocharger; the Sport gets 180 hp and 177 pounds-feet of torque with the six-speed manual and 162 pounds-feet of torque with the CVT. The six-speed manuals in both have the same gear ratios, but the Si has shorter, tighter shifts, which fixes one of my minor complaints about the manual in the Sport.

Add to that adaptive shocks, which tense up the Si in Sport mode, a limited-slip differential, wider tires for more grip and a more potent exhaust note, and this one becomes even more of a rout.

Fuel economy figures are actually pretty even, with the Si getting an estimated 28/38/32 mpg city/highway/combined versus 30/39/33 mpg for the Sport with a manual. CVT-equipped Sport models match the Si exactly on combined mileage, with 30/36/32 mpg.

Winner: Si

Interior Features and Safety

2017 Honda Civic Si

The Si is monospec when it comes to interior features and safety; it's basically equipped like a sedan or coupe EX-T while the Sport is more comparable to the base LX trim. There's a $2,600 price gap between the manual models of each to consider, but even with that, this seems to be a pretty easy win for the Si.

It features dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 7-inch driver information display and Honda LaneWatch, which are all missing on the Sport. The biggest difference, however, is the multimedia systems; the Sport has the more basic 5-inch screen setup but the Si gets a 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

Neither vehicle comes with more advanced safety features like autonomous forward emergency braking or adaptive cruise control.

Winner: Si

Practicality

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

This is really where the Sport strikes back, with its 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space dwarfing the 11.9 cubic feet in the Si coupe and the 14.7 cubic feet in the Si sedan. The Sport also has one of my favorite cargo cover solutions. Instead of a removable cover or a large bar that's cumbersome to remove and store, the cover retracts to the left side of the cargo area and is easily pulled in and out.

Winner: Sport

Who Does It Better?

2017 Honda Civic Si

I wrote in my first drive that the Civic Si "would be my choice out of the Civic lineup - in a landslide," and I stand by that wholeheartedly. For its price, I would actually put the Si up against anything else out there for those who are looking to have a lot of fun for not a lot of money.

The Sport remains a good value in its own right, and if you want a CVT or added cargo room, it remains a very good option. But the driving experience and added interior features in the Si tilt the scales too far in the direction of the sportier option.

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback

 

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