Review and Photos by Jeff Wilson

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Twenty years is a long time. Not by geological standards mind you, but looking back at a younger me 20 years ago, I see a lot has changed. Although I’m not as spry or perhaps as handsome as my former self, I am more mature. Sometimes.

For Hondas, 20 years is a lifetime. In fact, considering the frequency with which Civic models are redone, it’s four and a half lifetimes.

Fifteen years ago I was shopping for my first car (the ancient Corolla I briefly inherited during university doesn’t count). I thumbed through issues of Auto Trader for weeks looking for a do-everything car – the perfect expression of my automotive desires tempered with the reality of being a poor student. It needed to be efficient for commuting, reliable enough to not leave me stranded and as much fun as my meagre budget would allow. A bright red 1993 Honda Civic Si checked enough boxes on my wish list to earn the first real place in my growing vehicular history.

My ownership experience with that Civic was successful enough to help prompt my wife to pick up a new 2001 Civic for her first car too – one she still reflects upon fondly – and a car we put a lot of happy miles on. Clearly Honda’s wildly popular compact will always hold a special place in my heart.

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So it’s strange then that more than a decade has passed since I’ve driven an Si of any vintage and to suggest that my Dyno Blue Pearl test car faced very lofty expectations here would be a considerable understatement.

For 2013 Honda revisited the just freshly redesigned 2012 Honda Civic after that car was widely panned by media and consumers alike for not being a strong enough effort on Honda’s part. This year, small but significant adjustments to styling, interior trim and – most importantly – chassis tune and stiffness have been effected across the Civic line. The results have restored it as the solid competitor it always was in the past against its increasingly formidable foes.

Inside the 2013 Civic Si still tries too hard to be a modern interpretation of an X-wing fighter cockpit with its two-tier gauge pod, the series of i-VTEC lights and all-round sci-fi silliness, but at least the materials are improved. Soft-touch plastics cover more surfaces than before and everything is well fastened together, but the faux carbon fiber dash inlays are quick to remind occupants that this Civic wants to be part of the Fast and Furious crowd.

Still, the absolute absence of squeaks or rattles speaks to the legendary Honda build quality and with standard navigation, a wholly decent stereo, automatic climate control and Bluetooth connectivity, it’s a killer value too at only a shade more than $26,000 ($11,000 more than Honda charged for the ’93 Si when it was new for those who care).

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What’s even more important though is that the essential details for driving (convoluted gauges notwithstanding) are well executed.

The heated seats (with their durable-but-weird random-pattern fabric) are wonderfully comfortable for road trips, but also supportive for road courses, should the need arise.  The cabin is airy and spacious both front and rear.

The throttle-clutch-shifter combo is as well sorted as always in a Honda, with rifle-bolt precision, short throws and an all-round ease of use not found in all manual cars.  A note of caution about the shifter though:  that metal-topped ball gets sizzling-hot when the car has been parked in the sun for a while.  I think I might end up with a six-speed H-pattern permanently branded into my palm.

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