The sporty version of the popular compact benefits from the complete redesign and technology advances.

COURTESY PHOTO: HONDA - The 2022 Honda Civic Si looks sharp and drives even better, thanks to a powerful turbocharged engine, six-speed manual transmission, sport suspension and other upgrades.Affordable sporty cars are a dying breed. Many manufacturers used to offer higher performing version of their low-priced coupes, sedans and hatchbacks. They included more powerful engines, sport tuned suspensions, available manual transmissions and special trim. Although not as fast as genuine sports or muscle cars, they cost a lot less, providing cheap thrills and — occasionally — surprisingly good performance.

One of the best is one of the few survivors. The Honda Civic Si — for Sport Injected — was first introduced in 1985 as a 1986 model. The 2022 version continues the tradition of injecting genuine sportiness into the completely revised popular compact. It is available in only one sedan version that comes with a more powerful turbocharged 1.5-liter four cylinder engine, a six speed manual transmission, a sport tuned suspension with unique wheels, more supportive front bucket seats, an HPD body kit that includes a front air dam and rear spoiler, and other special trim.

COURTESY PHOTO: HONDA - The HPD experior package on the 2022 Honda Civic Si adds a front air dam, a rear spoiler and other special trim.

For enthusiasts the result is even a step above the 2022 Honda Civic Hatchback, which can also be ordered with a manual transmission. The turbo 1.5 in that version produces 180 horsepower. The Si bumps it up to 205. That might not sound like much these days, but the combination of all the enhancements is so well balanced that every drive is fun, from routine errands to weekends on empty country roads.

The biggest problem with the sporty affordable cars first introduced in the 1980s was longterm reliability. They simply weren't built to last. That's why its so hard today to find any first-generation Volkswagen Rabbit GTIs, turbocharged Dodge Colts and Chrysler K-Cars, Chevy Citations and Cavaliers with cold air induction, early DOHC Toyota Corollas, the slightly later Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442, or any other of the low-cost (and occasionally oddball) but fun vehicles from those days.

That has never been a problem with any version of the Honda Civic. And all 2022 models are likely to be the most long lasting. The complete redesign include an all-new platform that is stiffer than the previous generation and a longer wheelbase, contributing to an even smoother ride. Other notable improvements include the immediate sense of more interior room, thanks in large part to larger windows and a revised dash that minimizes the center stack.

COURTESY PHOTO: HONDA - The interior of the 2022 Honda Civic is the most refined yet, and the Si version comes with special trim.

In fact, some younger Civic fans might think the new styling is a tad conservative. I was a little surprised how refined the new version looks compared to the Boy Racer inspired previous generation. But the body kit on the Si strikes the right note and the I've come to appreciate the simplicity of the new dash, where the climate control vents are hidden behind a horizontal mesh strip.

I have now tested four versions of the 2022 Civic and been impressed with all of them. The first was a Sport sedan, which is one step above the base LX. It came with a durable looking cloth interior and normally-aspirated 2.0-liter four, which I thought provided plenty of power for daily driving, even when mated to the CVT. It was priced at under $26,000, even with the HPD appearance package.

The next was a top-of-the-line Touring sedan, which came with a leather interior and the more powerful turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, which made it more fun to drive. It was priced at just under $30,000.

COURTESY PHOTO: HONDA - The unique sports bucket seats in the 2022 Honda Civic Si are deeply contoured and bolstered for sporty driving.

Then came a top-of-the line Hatchback Sport Touring version, which also included full leather interior, the turbo engine and a full suite of comfort, convenience, safety other technology features. It came with the CVT instead of the available six-speed manual transmission and was still priced at just over $30,000.

The 2022 Civic Si is the best of all worlds, however. With a base price of $27,500, it is just slightly above the Sport version with the less powerful engine and CVT. Although the Si also has cloth seats, they are genuine sport buckets. The Si includes all the essential tech found in the Touring versions, which cost slightly more. And it is the most fun of all of them to drive.

COURTESY PHOTO: HONDA - The Honda Civic Si comes standard with one of the few six-speed manual transmissions available in any car at any price.

Enthusiasts should be thankful Honda still appreciates the joy of affordable sporty cars. The 2022 Civic Si is the best yet.

2022 Honda Civic Si

Base price: $27,500

Price as tested: $28,910

Style: Compact sedan

Engines: 2.0-liter 4 (205 hp, 174 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive modes: Normal, Sport

EPA fuel economy: 27/37

Length: 184 inches

Weight: 2,877 to 3,077 pounds

Final assembly point: Alliston, Ontario, Canada

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