Slaying the Dragon in Our Long-Term Civic Si

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It has been nearly two years since the 2015 Honda Civic Si showed up in our long-term garage.  What will likely be Honda’s last high-revving, naturally aspirated Si, this ninth-gen sedan has been a blast to drive every one of the 19,578 miles.  That said, there aren’t a lot of opportunities to test the sport-tuned suspension running in and around Chicago.  So, together with editor Joe Fischer and another close friend, we decided to make a journey to one of the greatest roads in the United States, “The Dragon” or “Tail of the Dragon”.

The Dragon probably doesn’t need any introduction, known to many driving enthusiasts, it’s a Mecca for any group calling itself a car club.  For those who need a refresher, it is an eleven-mile stretch of US129 that winds its way Northwest to Southeast through the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee to the border of North Carolina.  In that stretch, drivers encounter 318 curves through a mix of tunnels of trees and beautiful vistas.  All these photos still don’t do the place justice.  The best part is, though The Dragon is the best-known road in the area, a lot of the other roads are similarly curvy and exhilarating.

Though the Si is sporty, it is based on one of the best-selling cars of all time, the Civic.  That means it has the benefits of an every man car built into it.  Interstate cruising is a breeze, the stiffer suspension doesn’t toss you around or jar any fillings loose, and the seats are supportive without squeezing too tight.  There is ample room in the driver compartment to move around and stretch when needed and plenty of space for gear, coolers, etc.  The only things I missed were a larger cup holder and XM radio.

Since we’ve covered the Si before, let’s get down to why we traveled over 600 miles to get to these gorgeous mountain roads.  Driving the Civic Si hard, well… isn’t.  Hold third gear coming to the bend, a quick blip of the throttle on downshift to second puts the revs in the sweet spot, brake before the corner, and accelerate through to the next.  Rinse, lather, repeat.  The brakes are great, as there is very little travel before they start to grip and any fade was unnoticed.  Applying throttle starts to push the nose ever so slightly before the limited-slip differential comes to the rescue and points it exactly where you desire.  Although 205 horsepower doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s more than enough for these roads.  This truly is a great handling car.  Of course, it would help if it had been given a better diet and a tighter steering ratio.  The whole system could use a little more feel and feedback too, but it never got in the way of a good time.

We spent three days cruising around the area, never once tiring of finding the next road or searching for the next curve.  That can’t be said about all cars, but it can be said about our long-term Honda Civic Si.  With the new 2017 Si heading to dealers as this is published (there was no 2016 Si), we’re excited to see if the new formula is as good as this one.

Civic Si Notes:  There has only been routine maintenance performed such as oil changes, tire rotations, and an alignment.

Visitor Notes: There are roadside photographers that post pictures online for purchase (top picture and below).  If you want good photos, keep in mind where you have your GoPro mounted, windows up/down, lights on/off, etc.  Most lodging is located in North Carolina, the Dragon ends in a dry county.  If you want to drink, BYOB.

Randy Milanowski

Randy Milanowski

Randy has had a passion for the automobile for as long as he can remember. He lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife, pets, and project cars.

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