Posted Jun 25th 2012 5:30PM
Honda has clearly been listening to its critics when cooking up the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) version of the new Civic Si coupe. Although it doesn't increase horsepower, the HFP edition Si (limited to just 400 units for the Canadian market) does make significant improvements in two key areas: handling and style.
When we track tested the 2012 Civic Si last year, we were let down by its soft suspension tuning and excessive body roll when cornering hard. We also weren't fans of the Si's relatively bland styling and the fact that its sheet metal was far too reminiscent of the outgoing model. On the other hand, the '06 to '11 Civic was a handsomely styled machine, so I can't blame Honda for not wanting to stray too far from its design. Nor can Honda be blamed for not wanting to reinvent the Civic too radically given that its been the best-selling car in Canada for 14 years in a row.
Click here to see how the HFP stacks up on the track.
Related Gallery2012 Honda Civic Si HFP
So in typical Honda fashion, the 2012 Civic Si HFP isn't a radical reinvention of their sport compact coupe but rather a restrained yet surprisingly effective piece of fine-tuning. We first saw the car at SEMA 2011 and at first glance the HFP might appear to be little more than a Si with an underbody spoiler kit and a flashier set of wheels, but the ride height has actually be reduced by 10mm as part of the suspension package. This reduction in ride height, though very subtle, does give the Civic a more purposeful stance and it also helps in establishing a more aggressive wheel alignment designed to improve cornering power. The 18-inch HFP wheels, though no lighter than the standard Si rollers, are wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance tires rather than the usual all-season hockey pucks.
The HFP suspension wasn't just put in place to lower the Civic Si's ride height though; its main purpose was to improve handling via revised spring rates and shock valving. In fact, the springs are in the range of 40-50% stiffer than the standard Si's and the shock's dampening has been revised to match these far more aggressive spring rates.
After street driving the HFP model and then testing it on two different autocross courses at the Niagara airport, it's clear that the body roll and soft suspension of the Si has been replaced by a far more performance-oriented package that allows the Civic's excellent chassis to shine. Even on rough and broken pavement the ride quality never got harsh or choppy. In fact, we far prefer the HFP's firmer and more responsive ride quality on the road versus the regular Si's softer tuning.
Around the autocross courses the HFP model demonstrated much improved turn-in response, changing direction crisply and without the excessive body roll or front tire-punishing understeer I had previously experienced in the standard Si model. Overall grip was also noticeably improved by the upgrade in rubber, and although the HFP lip kit isn't designed to improve aerodynamics, in combination with the upgraded wheels the HFP Si does have a more aggressive and performance-oriented look to it.
The HFP Edition Civic Si is also a great value at only $28,690, just a few grand more than the standard Si model ($25,990), especially when you consider the fact that the HFP upgrades add up to more than $4,000 if bought separately. And for you car collectors out there, the 2012 Civic Si HFP does also come with HFP branded floor mats and exterior badging, so when it comes time to auction yours off at Barrett-Jackson in 2052 you won't have any difficulty establishing its '1 of 400' provenance.
Image Credit: Copyright 2012 David Pratte / AOL