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L.A. Auto Show 2016: Honda shows off a Civic Si prototype

L.A. Auto Show 2016: Honda shows off a Civic Si prototype
Honda is showing off a Civic Si prototype, giving Honda fans a sneak preview of the 2017 Civic Si sedans and coupes, due in dealerships in the middle of next year. (Honda)

What is it?

One of the few manual stick shift cars at the L.A. Auto Show, Honda’s Civic Si prototype is the Japanese giant’s version of a serious sports car — right down to the high-performance racing tires and the Rallye Red Pearl paint job.

Why it matters

The Civic is Honda’s bread and butter, a global passenger car juggernaut that has sold in the millions — more than 300,000 of them a year in the U.S. — and the Si is the sporty performance version that brings the Civic sex appeal. With the Si prototype, Honda is previewing the 2017 Si sedan and coupe models that will join the rest of the 10th generation of the company’s most successful model.

What’s new

Honda promises that the 2017 Civic Si Coupe and Si Sedan will feature an improved engine that delivers more torque and better performance. It will be available only with a manual transmission — Honda's declaration that this car is for enthusiasts only. The prototype shows off some of the available performance options, which will include suspension and steering upgrades, plus front and rear splitters for improved aerodynamics.  Honda says it's the "fastest, best-handling" Si yet.

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The competition

The Honda Civic Si appeals to a younger "tuner" crowd eager for high-value performance. Now that Scion has gone away, a sportier Civic Si could steal bargain-hunting buyers away from Subaru, Mini or BMW.

The details

Honda says the Si coupe and sedan, when they are delivered in mid-2017, will be powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, and mated to a manual, short-shift, six-speed transmission. The prototype is one of two Honda works-in-progress at the show. The company will also show a mock-up of the Civic Type R sports car, alongside a selection of the more sedate Civic sedans, coupes and hatchbacks.

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