Ask a typical Honda fanatic to close their eyes and imagine what a Civic Si looks like and chances are that they’ll envision the 6th-gen or 8th-gen model.
And you can’t really fault them because these cars embody everything that the legendary Si badge is about—a rev-happy small-displacement engine mated to a slick manual transmission, lightweight chassis, and invigorating driving dynamics.
But there’s one generation of Civic Si models that often gets overlooked by fans for reasons we’re still trying to figure out—the 7th-generation Civic Si.
Available from 2002 to 2005, the 7th-gen Si doesn’t necessarily inspire polarizing opinions from Honda-heads quite like the 9th-generation Civic Si does, but we think that the 7th-generation Si definitely deserves more love and here’s why.
Unique dash-mounted shifter
The quirky dash-mounted shifter in the 7th-gen Honda Civic Si is perhaps its most distinctive feature. It may look odd at first, but the setup works fantastically because you don’t have to drop your hand far from the steering wheel to shift. Another advantage is that floor space is increased, which Honda wisely filled with a capacious console.
The 2002 to 2005 Honda Civic Si was only offered as a hatchback, and we’re cool with that because this body style is incredibly versatile. Cargo capacity is an impressive 15.7 cubic feet with the rear seats upright and 35.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat; the previous Si made do with just 11.9 cubic feet thanks to its more limited coupe configuration. With all this storage space, the 7th-gen Si was a far superior daily driver to the 6th-gen model.
Torquey and tractable engine
Honda elected to pluck the smooth 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from the base Acura RSX to power the 7th-generation Civic Si, and we have to applaud this move because this motor is a gem. Power remained the same as the 6th-gen Si at 160 hp but it arrived at 6,5000 rpm compared to a stratospheric 8,000 rpm. However, the 7th-gen engine generated considerably more torque than its predecessor—132 lb-ft at 5,000 rpm versus a paltry 111 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm. That meant that the 7th-gen Civic Si was more responsive at lower revs and generally felt peppier in most driving situations than the old model
One benefit of being the outcast of the Civic Si bloodline is that you can score a killer deal on a 7th-gen model. Scour online used car marketplaces and you’ll find that $7,000 buys you a mint low-mileage 7th-generation Honda Civic Si. For comparison, a 6th-gen or 8th-gen Civic Si in equivalent condition will cost you over $10,000. We suggest that you don’t dilly-dally because the 7th-generation Honda Civic Si may not be one of the best-kept performance secrets for much longer.