The Honda Civic Si has never been the spec-sheet king of the entry-level enthusiast cars. It’s traditionally down on power from the Subaru WRX and Volkswagen Golf GTI, but makes up for that with its low pricing. In its latest incarnation, though, the Civic has its biggest power gap relative to its six-starred competitor yet — and the smallest difference in price.
The upcoming eleventh-generation Civic Si will start at $27,300 before destination charge, and $28,315 after. That’s a $2,100 jump from the 2020 model (the Si, much like the rest of us, sat 2021 out), and a big step closer to price parity with the WRX and GTI.
The Si’s three-letter competitors are both getting their own refreshes right now, with the Golf entering its eighth generation and the WRX evolving a new eye shape. The updated GTI comes in at $29,545, only a $2,245 jump from the Si; pricing hasn’t been announced for the new WRX, but the outgoing model is a mere $200 more than the Si.
With the Golf, that increased price has traditionally meant an increase in interior material quality. The Japanese enthusiast entries are full of hard plastics, but the Golf is usually a more refined place to spend your commute. The extra two grand is the cost for luxury — the extra 28 horsepower is just a bonus.
The WRX, on the other hand, traditionally has an interior that can best be described as “functional,” or “contains at least one (1) chair.” They can also be described as “loud,” with squeaks and rattles at any speed on any terrain. It’s the price you pay for the drivetrain — Subaru may not have a VW (or even Honda) interior, but they’ve got the most power and driven wheels. Colin McRae never needed a soft-touch dash, why do you?
But with the GTI as the Nice One, and the WRX as the Fast One, the Si could only ever stand as the Cheap One. Now, unless the new WRX has some astronomical leap in price, it can no longer make that claim. With less power than the GTI, it can’t even fit in some Goldilocks middle position — it simply has to be the Reliable One. But will that message speak to its target audience?
While less direct competitors, the Toyota GR 86 and Subaru BRZ are also nipping at the Civic’s pricing, the GR 86 is only $400 more than the Si, with the BRZ commanding an additional $300 above that. Their shared rear-driven, two-door, two-functional-seat layout may make the Si the Practical One in comparison, but don’t dismiss the Toyobaru twins too quickly — they’re better Stuff Haulers than they let on.
With this price hike, the future of the Civic Si is unclear. It’s in an odd spot on the radar chart of entry-level enthusiast cats — not the fastest, not the nicest, and not the rear-driven layout that every car site commenter prefers. Honda will likely take the reliability crown above the competition, but is that enough? Or was the discount price the only thing keeping the Si alive?