Until the 2023 Honda Civic Type R arrives later this year, the top-doggiest Civic you can buy is the 200-hp Civic Si sedan. With a standard six-speed manual transmission available and limited-slip front differential, tightened up suspension, and red-accented interior, the Si continues Honda’s lineage of sweet-driving, lightweight compact cars wearing the iconic Si badge. It’s not some hardcore track dissector, but rather a sporty everyday car—a slightly elevated, more focused Civic sedan aimed squarely at enthusiasts looking for an affordable, under-the-radar ride. Care to follow that assessment? Try the new Civic Si FE1 race car from Honda Performance Development (HPD).
The HPD FE1 Civic Si takes everything subtle about the latest Civic Si and cranks it up to 11. Similar to the previous-gen HPD Civic Si racer, there’s a huge wing perched above the trunklid, tow straps dangling from the front and rear bumpers, and the interior is just gone. In fact, Honda strips out even more than that: starting with a unique body-in-white, the HPD Civic Si deletes the regular model’s sunroof, skips nearly all of the interior finishes, sound insulation, and body seam filler that would be installed in the street version.
That body is sent to Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, Performance Manufacturing Center to be essentially handbuilt in the same building where the Acura NSX supercar is constructed. Does proximity to the NSX make this a higher-performance car? Well, no, it’s more of a cool fun fact and a location of convenience—where else would Honda hand-build something but there?—but everything else HPD has done to it does. That includes the fitment of an HPD-fortified manual transmission with a strengthened fourth gear, a Cusco limited-slip front differential, Hasport engine mounts, a full Borla exhaust from the turbo aft, and a tuned ECU.
Honda says the turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4 engine is shared with the series-production Civic Si, and mentions no power gains of note. We figure between the programmable ECU and the Borla exhaust, there’s probably a few more ponies lurking under the Civic Si’s hood here. That said, even if the HPD Civic Si retains the same 200 hp as the stock Si, it’s dragging around a few hundred pounds less Civic—Honda says the racecar weighs just 2,600 pounds. That’s very light, given the production Civic Si is already supremely light at just under 3,000 pounds. In other words, expect this racer to be notably quicker.
It should also stop harder than the Civic Si, which we’ve found can overwhelm its brakes’ heat dissipating abilities on a track. Before we dive into the HPD’s hardware upgrades, you can see Honda has tried to address the production model’s apparent lack of brake cooling by drilling two large holes in the front bumper flanking the central lower intake; these cooling ducts should shovel appropriate volumes of air at the front stoppers. Even so, the front brakes have been replaced by Wilwood six-piston race calipers and larger 12.9-inch floating Wilwood rotors. HPD leaves the rear brake setup alone, but fits braided stainless steel brake lines and Pagid brake pads to all four corners.
The HPD Civic Si FE1 rides on a full Bilstein suspension, with inverted adjustable front coilovers, adjustable rear dampers, two spring sets (swappable and each with a different rate), along with HPD adjustable front camber and caster plates, rear toe and camber links , and rear spring mounts. Proving that Enkei RPF1 lightweight aluminum wheels look good on practically anything, they look good here, too, sized 17×8 inches.
Safety equipment takes up the lion’s share of the Civic Si FE1’s cabin equipment, period, and includes a full FIA roll cage, FIA FT3 14.5-gallon fuel cell, and OMP quick-release steering wheel; racing seat; harnesses and fire extinguishers. The driver faces a Motec dashboard data logger, racing gauge cluster, and a row of LED shift lights. Amusingly, the stock Si shift knob sits atop the otherwise naked shift lever mechanism.
Interested in hitting up some SRO TCA races next year and have some $55,000 burning a hole in your pocket? That sum buys you the new HPD Civic Si FE1 fully turnkey, albeit with a bare Pearl White body. A $25,000 deposit is required, with the remaining $20,000 (plus sales tax) due when the car is ready. That is cheap as far as built racecars go, plus it comes having been fully developed by HPD engineers and factory built. So, while you could buy a new Civic Si for just under $30,000, you could also wait for the new Civic Type R—sure to cost north of $40,000 and come with more than 300 hp—or, door number three, would be spending the equivalent of two Civic Sis for this one, non-street-legal version. The choice is yours. Deliveries begin this fall.