Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic Si HFP car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda Civic Si HFP. Click image to enlarge
 

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Review and photos by Mike Schlee

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2012 Honda Civic Si

Over the past 20 or so years, the Honda Civic has been at the forefront of modern car culture. The Civic has been ‘the car’ when it comes to heavily modified rides and could be considered generation Y’s 1957 Chevy. The Civic has been the equivalent of a blank canvas for racers, tuners and modifiers. You are as likely to see a Civic at the local autocross event as you are at the grocery store; a pretty impressive feat for an economy car.

So the fact that Honda has decided to release a factory-tuned special Civic in North America should come as no surprise. The fact it took this long, long after the Civic’s Import Tuner heyday, is slightly more curious.

For 2012, Honda has introduced the limited production Civic Si Honda Factory Performance (HFP). The package is available only on the Si coupe and consists of a skirt package, rear spoiler, lowering springs, 18-inch wheels and grippy Michelin Super Sport 215/40R18 tires. Oh, and don’t forget the red floor mats and HFP badging here and there.

Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic Si HFP car test drives reviews honda
Test Drive: 2012 Honda Civic Si HFP car test drives reviews honda
2012 Honda Civic Si HFP. Click image to enlarge

Before getting to the performance of the HFP, let me assess the exterior first. The bodykit isn’t the best looking and makes the somewhat attractive Si coupe garish. It accentuates the already blocky styling of the current generation Civic, and not in a good way. I’m still not a fan of the exhaust system placement either; it looks too far offset in the rear; Honda should make it dead centre or place it off to the side like a conventional exhaust. The rear spoiler, though, is a nice touch and I do really like the look of the two-tone wheels.

The wheel and tire package is not just for looks: combined with the upgraded suspension, the Civic Si’s handling is greatly improved. The vehicle hustles around corners with a sure-footed ability not usually found in front-wheel drive compact coupes. Tossing it around the back roads of the Niagara Escarpment, the Si HFP was lively, engaging and hard to upset. Push it hard enough though and the vehicle will wash into inevitable understeer, but the transition from grip to no grip is very linear and predictable. Part of this impressive grip is due to the true mechanical helical limited-slip differential.

I took this car down to the annual AJAC TestFest but was not allowed to take it on the handling course where it would really shine. During the previously mentioned spirited back road jaunts I could feel the potential of the HFP upgrades and wish I could have exploited them on a closed course. Even with a hefty weight upgrade from the LX coupe’s 1,191 kg to the Si’s 1,317 kg, it still feels light on its feet and begs to be driven hard.

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