It sat before me on the track ready for me to step in and attempt my lap. IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe stood by the passenger door with an expectant look on his face. “He must know I’m about to impress him,” I thought. “Look how expectant he looks – he probably can tell from my demeanour that I’m a driver of immense talent.”
James (I call him James now) pointed down at the door lock. I unlocked the door. He no longer looked expectant.
The Honda Civic is arguably (seriously, there are multi-million dollar ad campaigns taking up the debate) the bestselling car in Canada. It is ubiquitous anywhere people who want low-cost, easy to drive appliance cars are.
Civics are a favourite of parents buying the first car for their
spoiled very lucky kids too, but this particular edition is one they’ll try to protect their progeny from. See, this is the hyper-Civic. The hopped-up jive turkey the PTA warned them not to let their kids near. It’s a Civic Si. The kids love it. The parents, not so much. You can tell this is the boy-racer model by the towel rack on the bootlid, the aggressive nose and the wide 18-inch wheels with low profile tires. The red “Si” badges and i-VTEC DOHC stickers on the side (15 hp each, those decals), all bring out the “tsk tsk” in car-shopping parents.
Realistically though, they need not be concerned with the appearances of this car. Like the bloke at my high school who wore a studded leather jacket and desert boots but never crossed the road when the red light is showing – the Civic SI is not quite as tough as Honda would like you to believe.
It’s great – and it’s really great for a please-everyone car that is one of the bestselling appliances in the world; but it’s warm, not hot.
This is after all a Civic, and the Civic Type R is too much (goodness) for North Americans. That’s probably why Honda has poured money into promoting its relationship with IndyCar’s James Hinchcliffe here in Canada – and probably why they used Civics as a centrepiece for their “Tame the Track” event in Toronto.
2014 Honda Civic Si, driver’s seat. Click image to enlarge
To win over us suspicious journo types, we got to punt Civics around a track with some tutelage in the morning. Then some other stuff happened – like me beating a former world karting champion in a race – and just before lunch, Hinch arrived.
He had already set a time, and our challenge was to match it. In I climbed, and adjusted my mirrors. On a racetrack – silly Jacob. I’ve already described that lap in my Tame The Track
article bragfest but it’s worth noting that I was impressed by the chassis stiffness and turn-in of the Civic on the track. It does have some credible performance chops.