Honda says the Civic Si is rated at 205 hp to keep you out of the shop

It could have been more powerful, but Honda feared reliability concerns.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Honda's new 2017 Civic Si touts a lot of firsts. For example, it's the first Si with a turbocharged engine, and it's the first Si with adaptive dampers. One thing isn't new, however -- its power output. But there's a reason for that, the automaker says.

Honda kept the Civic Si's output at 205 hp, which is the same as the previous-generation Si, for a pretty straightforward reason, Automotive News reports -- engine longevity. "Honda likes to build their engines to last hundreds of thousands of miles, so they're working toward that target," Rob Keough, a senior product planner for the Civic, told AN. He noted that adding more power could affect the durability of the engine. 

One might interpret this as subtly throwing shade at automakers like Ford, Subaru and Volkswagen, all of which offer significantly more powerful competitors. Alternatively, perhaps it's just a convenient bit of spin given that many have been disappointed by the Si engine's output figures. Or maybe it's entirely true -- Honda is just being cautious in order to preserve its strong reputation for reliability.

"Si" stands for Sport Injection, and the new Civic Si lives up to that assertion. It's a good'un.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Either way, many were quick to pounce on Honda for keeping the Civic Si's power output limited to 205 horsepower when it moved to Honda's new 1.5-liter turbocharged I4. Not only was it down on power compared to competitors like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it seemed farther away from the Civic Type R's 306-hp figure than it needed to be.

But, of course, horsepower only tells part of the story. Torque is up, from 174 pound-feet to 192, and it comes on earlier in the rev range, thanks to the Si's first-ever turbocharger. The new car is also some 200 pounds lighter than before, which also aids performance, as does the inclusion of standard adaptive dampers and a limited-slip differential.

We took a spin in Honda's new Civic Si in May, and we walked away impressed by its handling prowess. Plus, the torque from the turbo I4 didn't leave us freaking out about power deficits in the face of its competitors. By and large, it's the most refined Si yet, and that's very much a good thing.

Thankfully, those with a thirst for more power can go where enthusiasts have always gone for that -- the aftermarket. Hondata's already released tunes for the 1.5-liter turbo four-banger, bringing the non-Si Civic's output to 225 horsepower. There will undoubtedly be a tune for the Si in the coming months, but owners must realize that aftermarket tuning traditionally comes with trade-offs including a voided warranty and potential hits to reliability.

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