Entry Price: $22,790

Price as tested: $25,280

This week, we're driving the 2014 Honda Civic Si, a two-door coupe that delivers the best of both worlds in sports car handling and economical pricing. If a car like this whets your appetite, the 2014 Si Coupe may be one of the best buys in compact performance autoland, featuring Honda's proven performance mechanicals and track tested suspension.

Now in its eighth generation following a stateside in 1973, Civic continues to evolve as one of Honda's hottest selling properties. The "S" models debuted way back in 1986, and from 1988 to 1991 Civic Si hatchbacks captured the attention of the new sport compact enthusiast. Through its latest generation, Honda continues to tweak Si by delivering more horsepower, upgraded suspensions and improved aerodynamics to make Si leaner and meaner than ever.

Thanks to customer satisfaction surveys and the numerous awards the car continues to earn, Honda decided to also offer a four-door Si if so inclined, but remember your only transmission of "choice" is a six-speed manual. The sedan operates on a 105.1-inch wheelbase resulting in a roomier cabin. The Si Coupe, however, operates on a smaller 103.2-inch wheelbase that allows for a more sports car style wrap.

Although not all Civic consumers desire a performance bred Civic Si, those who choose this model will experience way more spirited drive experiences. For younger consumers, or the young at heart, the Honda Civic Si is an interesting and exciting car to drive as underneath lies a sport tuned suspension that responds immediately to its high-revving four-cylinder performance engine.

Civic Si suspension features MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear setup that is tuned for handling. Add vehicle stability control, 4-wheel disc ABS brakes, 17-inch all season tires, alloy wheels and electronic brake distribution and you've got a seasoned Honda-bred performer on your hands that begs to be driven hard.

The Si easily handles curves with ease and no lean, and then performs quite well in acceleration, passing and merging maneuvers. On the turnpikes, there's complete comfort as Honda intertwines its firm suspension with the contentment of well tailored seating to arrive at a great medium. Zero to 60 arrives in less than seven seconds, which is similar to what a 383-V8 Roadrunner would do off the factory floor back in 1968. Of course, the Roadrunner delivers maybe nine-mpg if lucky.

The core of Si performance and efficiency lies in Honda's popular 2.0-liter, 205 horsepower 16-valve iVTEC 4-cylinder engine. Under full throttle, this little engine reaches about 4,500 rpm and then gives an additional "kick" resulting in excellent acceleration while still delivering a most impressive 22 city and 31 highway EPA numbers. (When not "pedal-matted" to the floor of course). This extra power burst comes thanks to an 11.0 to 1 compression ratio and enhanced fuel induction and exhaust technology. These advancements are clearly a by-product of Honda's involvement in Verizon IndyCar Racing, where its Honda race engine revs to 10,000 RPM and then lives for several races before an engine refresh.

Civic Si's power is transferred to the front-wheel drive by a fine shifting 6-speed transmission, which happens to be the only transmission available with the sporty Si models as mentioned earlier. Noteworthy standard features, of which there are too many to list, include rearview safety camera, lane watch monitoring, limited slip differential, all the expected airbags including side curtain with rollover sensor, side impact door beams, daytime running lamps, Bluetooth, XM Radio w/three months free, leather appointments, aluminum pedals, 360 watt seven-speaker stereo w/subwoofer and MP3/WMA playback, keyless entry, push button start, air conditioning, cruise and even a power moonroof.

Your Honda dealer is ready to explain all other features, plus extend some year-end incentives when you visit.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.2 inches, 3,004 lb. curb weight, 11.7 cu. ft. of cargo space, and a 13.2 gallon fuel tank.

If you like more than 30-mpg and the manners of a high-performance compact sportster, Honda Civic Si is for you.

Likes: Unreal power, great handling, nice interior, 6-speed manual.

Dislikes: Rear visibility, tight rear quarters, look for an automatic in future.


(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.)