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With four doors, you might think the 2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan is more grown up than its coupe sibling. The fact that you can strap a baby seat in back doesn't detract from the Civic Si Sedan's wheel-spinning glory and general penchant for being pushed hard around corners. And its tech apparel comes with one of Honda's better audio systems, complete with bass-thumping subwoofer, which doesn't suggest a diet of adult contemporary or light jazz.
Last year, we reviewed the coupe version of the Civic Si, and found it one of the best car tech values around. Adding two doors for the sedan version raises the price just a little, but not enough to detract from the value. For a little over $23,000, you get an excellent navigation system complemented by one of the best voice command systems available. Combined with the fun and efficient power train, you'll want to spend a lot of time in this car.
That is, if you like the looks, which can be polarizing. The Civic Si Sedan looks great from every angle but the front. It has a nicer roofline than the coupe version, holding its height a little longer and creating a more graceful slope down to the trunk. The lip spoiler on the back adds a nice touch, improving an otherwise boring rear end. But the big, curvy fascia covering the bumper gives the front a hovercraft look, making the car look less agile than it is.
Test the tech: Mountain drive
We had a lot of fun driving the Civic Si Sedan on flat city streets where we could get a fast start off from a light and jam it around 90-degree corners. But to see what it would do in real terrain, we brought it up above 6,000 feet to Lake Tahoe. Up here, the car would have to handle long, winding highways with significant grades.
For the trip from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, we appreciated the extra doors and spacious trunk. Three people and their luggage fit easily into the car, and four would have been just as comfortable. Our passengers found the automatically locking doors annoying. The locks snap shut as the car starts moving, and must be opened with the lock buttons. We would have preferred if the doors unlocked when you pulled the interior handle.
Although we were well above sea level, the car seemed unaffected by the change in altitude. It was the hills that gave it trouble, sucking up all that flatland sprightliness. As we ran over the Mount Rose Highway, we found the throttle response and acceleration significantly weakened. The car's saving grace is its 8,000rpm redline, which let us downshift to third gear even at speeds over 60 mph. Making use of engine speeds between 6,000 and 8,000rpm, we had adequate power for hill climbs and got to hear the engine's VTEC whine.
The Civic Si Sedan has a limited slip differential as standard equipment, but we didn't find its cornering as strong as that of the similarly equipped Mazdaspeed 3. Taking it around long highway corners at speed, the Civic Si Sedan felt like it was leaning out, instead of in, to the curve. On the plus side, we didn't get any wheel slip and were able to take the corners at speed, but it didn't feel as settled as we would have liked.
In the cabin
As the Si, this Civic gets sport seats covered by grippy fabric, embroidered with the Si logo. The seats look good, are fairly comfortable, and offer height adjustment along with recline and forward/back. Bolsters combined with the fabric help you stay planted in hard turns.
As we've noted in previous Civic reviews, the car uses a bilevel instrument cluster, with a digital speedometer and fuel and temperature gauges in the top portion. The lower portion houses an analog tachometer. The car only has a basic trip meter, with no advanced trip computer functions, so don't count on the car to tell you how many more miles you can go.