LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Strap aboard but cinch that racing helmet tightly because we′re firing up for hot laps on a track at Las Vegas with a racy factory-prepared special issue car from American Honda Motor Company. This one looks serious in a sleek aero-kit package with the flush front air dam, curvy side spoilers, a rear bumper diffuser and high-flying tail spoiler.
It stocks serious equipment too like a high-performance suspension with performance springs that pare the ride height 0.6 inches closer to the pavement, a helical-type limited slip differential, sports exhaust system and four lightweight Mugen forged aluminum wheels fitted with high-grip BFGoodrich g-Force KDW P215/45R1787V performance tires. Special badges denote the tilt toward performance with front and rear emblems by Mugen, a name symbolizing Honda fast-lane car performance from designing and producing racing gear and aftermarket performance products.
It′s the roll-out of the 2008 Honda Civic Mugen Si Sedan in limited-production numbers of only 1000 units. Honda′s rakish long and tall Civic Si hatchback coupe, enriched by sporty drive manners plus a high-tech aluminum engine, cast off a four-door version in 2007 dubbed the Civic Si Sedan. Based on the Civic platform, Si the four-door wears unique body parts with a thin wing topping the rear deck and aero cladding on the nose and tail. A five-seat cockpit of the Civic Si Sedan carries sport buckets up front which have big side bolsters and bold red fabric stitching for accent.
Understand that Civic Si is the namesake of a former Civic hatchback that was souped and slammed and sometimes even sparked with nitrous-oxide elixirs among street-racing daredevils who crafted fabled pocket rockets. The name traces to 1984 in Honda lore with the introduction of the Civic S hatchback. When fuel injection was added in 1986, the badge became Si, with the lower-case "i" denoting the injection. Other Honda innovations followed, including the first North American application of Honda′s wizardry of valve control.
Last Si issues appeared in 2002 following the introduction of a seventh-generation platform for Civic′s sedan and coupe in 2001. In 2006 Honda brought out the eighth generation of designs for best-seller Civic featuring a longer and wider package with the wheelbase stretching longer by 1.5 inches. Civic Si coupe treatment quickly followed.
Then at the 2006 Specialty Equipment Market Association′s (SEMA) show in ′Vegas, Honda unveiled a number of cool ideas to build depth beneath the Si plate. First of these ideas on the market was the Si Sedan. But at the SEMA show Honda also unveiled a prototype of the 2008 Civic Si Mugen Sedan, along with a Honda Factory Performance (HFP) Si Sedan with accessories which could be installed by a dealer.
The HFP package has high-performance springs that chop the ride height by half an inch and reduce the vehicle′s roll center. Also, high-performance dampers improve the handling traits while also checking body roll. The Civic Si Mugen Sedan also scores the high-performance suspension elements of the HFP package, along with a full-vehicle aero-package which attaches a front spoiler with sports grille, spoilers on both flanks, and the bold and tall rear wing.
In the cabin, a Mugen Limited Edition placard mounts on the center console above the shifter stick, which holds a spherical 50-mm Mugen aluminum shift knob. Also, a serial-number placard goes to the instrument panel With a maximum of 1000 units for the model-year 2008, Civic Si Mugen Sedan brings a MSRP of less than $30,000 and that figure includes a full factory warranty.
It comes in only one body paint color -- Fiji Blue Pearl. The impression from riders inside a Civic Si is one of non-cramped quarters despite a compact-car designation. Also, a sharp cant to the windshield on the inside carves out a deep dash and adds inches of space inside. Honda′s cockpit stylists took advantage of the extra dashboard room by designing a twin-deck instrument panel.
Immediately ahead of the steering wheel is the near section containing a big analog tachometer, plus an odometer with trip meter. Further ahead of the steering wheel -- and within a driver′s line-of-sight -- is the second section for the instrument panel. This area in the shape of a crescent houses the vivid digital speedometer, plus gauges for fuel level and engine temperature. Seat layout for the cabin is conventional, with dual buckets up front and a bench for three in back.
Front buckets are separated by a floor-mounted console with space for the transmission′s gear stick and stow spaces for several cups, a collection of CDs and pocket change for toll booths and parking meters. A center stack forward of the console tilts toward the windshield and houses audio and climate gear. Air bags are poised around the passenger compartment.
The standard issue includes frontal air bags for front seats plus front torso side air bags, and there are curtain-style air bags tucked into roof rails above side windows for front and back seats. Fast-stop strength stems from a round of disc brakes rigged with four-piston brake calipers. An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is also included.
Powertrain for Civic Si coupe and sedan plus the Mugen edition is quite special. The dual-cam four-in-line engine displaces 2.0 liters and employs a drive-by-wire throttle and Honda′s special i-VTEC (variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain to precisely manage engine breathing and combustion in order to maximize horsepower and disperse torque across a broad band.
The plant generates 197 hp at 7800 rpm plus torque of 139 lb-ft at 6100 rpm. Sole transmission is a close-ratio six-speed manual shifter tied with the helical-type limited slip differential.