If I had to pick a favorite car below the $25k price point, it would very likely be Honda’s Civic Si. The chassis is superb, the transmission is very good and the car provides exactly the right auditory and visual feedback. Like most four cylinder enthusiast cars, the Civic’s sole weak point is a lack of grunt off the line. Wind the current car’s 2.0 liter, 197 horsepower engine high enough to engage VTEC, and the car runs like a scalded dog. Because the motor only makes 140 ft lb of torque, it’s going to take you a bit to get past the point of VTEC cam transition.
It’s not real obtrusive and it certainly doesn’t take away from the Civic Si’s appeal, but an engine with a bit more low-end power would turn an exceptional car into an epic car, assuming engineers didn’t screw something else up in the process. A V6, for example would ruin the Civic Si’s balance and would be a step in the wrong direction. A bigger inline four, like the 2.4 liter K24 from the Acura TSX, would provide more torque without adding a significant amount of weight. If Autoblog and Temple of VTEC are correct, that’s exactly what Honda has in mind for the next Civic Si. The K24Z3 engine, in current tune at least, only makes four more horsepower than the K20Z3 found in the 2010 Civic Si. On the other hand, the K24 puts out 172 ft lb of torque at 4,300 RPM, which is a significant improvement over the K20’s 140 at 6,200 RPM.
An added benefit is likely to be improved fuel economy, since you won’t have to wind the K24 engine up as much to make power. In typical Honda form, this seems like an elegant solution that will ultimately benefit both the consumer and the manufacturer. If this rumor turns out to be valid, the next Civic Si has the potential of being the best version yet.