For the last few decades the most potent Honda Civic model has been the Si. That changed this spring, when Honda introduced the Si HFP. The HFP suffix stands for Honda Factory Performance.
How it changes Si makes me think of Nigel Tufnel’s guitar amps, you know, those famously tweaked amps that “go to eleven.”
“We’re not taking a very pedestrian car and turning it into a sporty car, we’re already starting with a sporty car and fine tuning it, to take it to the next level,” says Jonathon Wier, who is Honda Canada’s product planner for the Civic line, and looks nothing like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.
And the fine tuning Wier speaks of is the sort undertaken by those who take their Civic Si models to the racetrack — bigger wheels (18-inch vs. 17-inch), stickier and stiffer tires (Michelin Pilot Super Sport), stiffer springs (by 40-50 per cent), and lowered ride height (by 10 mm). These changes also allow the Si HFP to run with more negative camber on the front suspension, furthering the vehicle’s handling ability and steering feel.
The other HFP changes are all cosmetic: Front and side and rear underbody spoilers; Special HFP badging; HFP floormats.
You’ll notice that the Si’s 2.4-litre engine has not been touched. But we’ll remind you that the Si’s 2.4-litre engine, rated at 210 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque is a good whack more powerful than Civic’s standard 1.8-litre (140 hp/128 lb-ft of torque), and that achieving “the next level” is more efficiently achieved by concentrating on increasing cornering speeds.
We had chance to sample the HFP’s impressive cornering abilities in an appropriate venue — the Niagara Drive Centre (a.k.a. as the back runways of the Niagara International Airport, when aircraft are conveniently not taking off and landing).
Not only does increased cornering speeds give you the most performance bang for the buck, the mods that make it possible also give you increased driving satisfaction — sharper handling, more bite when you first turn in, and more stimulating feedback.
Of course the 18-inch Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, with their bigger and stickier contact patch and super stiffer sidewalls, are the biggest enablers of HFP’s increased cornering prowess, but not every compact coupe would be able to make use of them, like this Honda can… These tires are original fitment on a lot of super cars, such as Ferraris, and high-end BMWs and Porsches.
The HFP package is a $2,800 upgrade on the Si model, which starts the party going at $25,990. You can buy all the HFP parts separately or together — if you did the later it would set you back about $4,000.
So relatively speaking, the Civic Si HFP is good value, and you get the benefit of Honda’s R&D work in pre-selecting and engineering these bits to perfectly suit the Si — not the case with all aftermarket performance items.
Honda first tried this “HFP” thing on the Accord last year. Honda Canada only made 200 or so Accord HFPs, but limited availability was exactly the point of the exercise.
Only 400 Civic Si HFPs will be available this year, and they’ve been on sale already for a couple of months. If you want one, go now…