’22 Civic Si carries six-speed torch, Lego kit previews next Batmobile, T.50 at full shriek
Honda’s newest Civic Si promises more of the same great driving antics
Intake: Driving enthusiasts and fans of the big H, rejoice: The new Civic Si is here. Like the previous generation, the new Si uses a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, now good for 192 lb-ft of torque and 200 horsepower—same torque as before but five fewer ponies. Honda says this power drop is a consequence of chasing better powertrain responsiveness. To wit, peak torque hits 300 rpm sooner and peak power (previously at 5700 rpm) is maintained from 6000 rpm all the way to the 6500 rpm redline. The engine is said to be more responsive thanks to a 26 percent lighter single-mass flywheel. The Si comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission which now features the active rev-match system from the raucous Civic Type R. There’s a helical limited-slip front diff to help sort out corner exits. The body is stiffer and shares the same 0.5-inch bump in rear track and 1.4-inch bump in wheelbase, both boons for stability. Springs are 8 percent stiffer in front and 54 percent stiffer in the rear compared to those on the current Civic sedan. Though the newest Si eschews the base model’s adaptive dampers for fixed ones, its struts are specifically tuned for a more driver-focused mission. Brakes are bigger, too—12.3 inches in front and 11.1 inches in the rear, gains of 1.2 inches and 0.9 inches, compared to the Si’s more pedestrian sibling. Honda says the new Si will arrive in dealers later this year.
Exhaust: “Exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission” are not words you hear too often anymore, and for that we should tip our cap. Honda’s Civic Si remains one of the few affordable cars that still places driving enjoyment at the center of its mission. To see it get another run here in the States means that there are still enough of you out there looking for reasonably priced, fun-to-drive cars. Keep the faith. While we’re bummed to see a tad less power, we don’t think it will diminish the car’s appeal too much, especially now that the Civic Sport hatchback only offers Honda’s 158-hp naturally aspirated 2.0-liter. No word on pricing yet, but we’re not expecting any sticker shock there—expect it to start in the high 20-thousands.
Lego rolls out new Batmobile in anticipation of 2022 movie
Intake: A new Batman movie is coming. So is a new Lego Batmobile. Pre-orders are now being accepted for a new Technic version of Batman’s famous ride. The highly detailed, 1360-piece toy car set is 17 inches long, 6 inches wide, and over 4 inches high. Cost is $99.99, and shipping begins November 1. Among the car’s features are two light bricks—a red light adds glow to the transparent toy engine in the rear, while a yellow brick lights up the front grille. Other highlights include steering, a differential on the rear wheels, and a spinning flame out in back, plus opening doors and hood.
Exhaust: We don’t know how good the movie will be—The Batman hits theaters March 2—but the Batmobile has always been a big draw for fans of the DC Comics hero, regardless of which version of the vehicle you like best. And with such an early ship date, you can expect to have the Lego set in time for the holidays.
Listen to Gordon Murray’s T.50 sing at Goodwood
Intake: The Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 made its public debut at Goodwood’s 78th Member’ Meeting, and boy was its V-12 engine on song. IndyCar star and development driver Dario Franchitti was behind the wheel of the ultimate analog hypercar, revving its Cosworth V-12 to the redline to the delight of the crowds. The trackside commentators described its banshee wail as like Halloween come early as the T.50 demonstrated its phenomenal acceleration and amazing cornering on the famous English circuit. Two cars were also parked in the paddock throughout the weekend, allowing visitors to examine the T.50’s incredible engineering up close and quiz engineers about the downforce-generating rear fan.
Exhaust: It’s quite a thrilling sight and sound, isn’t it? What’s perhaps even more amazing is that Murray has taken more than 40 years to make his fan-car dreams come true after his original design for the Brabham BT46 Formula One car was withdrawn after just one race in 1978.
Maserati Grecale debut delayed, F Tributo available
Intake: Maserati has blamed global supply-chain problems for pushing back the launch of its Grecale compact SUV. The car was supposed to be unveiled on November 16, but now will not be revealed until the spring of 2022. The Porsche Macan rival is based on Alfa Romeo’s successful Stelvio and will come with a three-pronged approach to powertrains. Peak performance will come from a slightly de-tuned version of the Nettuno V-6 from the MC20, but there will also be a hybrid two-liter four-cylinder engine, as seen in the Ghibli and Levante. The Grecale will also be the first Maserati to be available with fully electric drive, when it eventually appears.
Trident fans can, however, now choose between colorful Juan Manuel Fangio-inspired F Tributo versions of the Ghibli and Levante. The cars are available in Azzuro Tributo blue or Rosso Tributo with 21-inch black alloy wheels, bespoke badging, and Pieno Fiore leather trim with red-and-yellow stitching. The Ghibli F Tributo starts at $98,890 and the Levante is $106,590.
Exhaust: The semiconductor shortage strikes again. Maserati is anticipating hefty demand for its compact SUV and with current levels of chip supply wouldn’t be able to keep up with consumer appetite. Those F Tributo models look like a nice consolation prize in the meantime, though.
Honda rally races a Passport (again) and performs quite respectably
Intake: This past weekend, a team of Honda engineers based in Ohio trekked to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to play around in the dirt … but they didn’t make the trip for the fall colors alone. A factory-backed Honda team rallied a Honda Fit as early as 2013, and in 2019 upgraded to a Passport. For 2021, a light-duty SUV will once again champion Honda’s factory effort: a 2022 all-wheel-drive Passport with plenty of protective (under) body armor, beefier brake pads, and 17-inch BRAID rally wheels wrapped in Maxxis rubber (either M/T or A/T, depending on the stage and weather). The Limited 4WD class in which the Passport competes does not permit extensive driveline modifications (the engine, for instance, has to be “normally available” in the same model range), but the HPD Maxxis Rally team decided not to swap in a different transmission or upgrade the dampers (both permissible in the class). The drivetrain and suspension are stock. Thanks to an unfortunate tire de-bead, Honda’s team didn’t finish its first 2021 event as strongly as its 2019 debut, but the 2022 Passport consistently posted times among the top 10 of its 42 regional competitors.
Exhaust: Even if an all-wheel-drive Passport doesn’t make you weak at the knees, Honda’s continued investment in a wide variety of racing disciplines should fill enthusiasts with good cheer. Here’s hoping that lessons learned on rally stage trickle down to TrailSport models, which would justify this outdoorsy marketing cred.
Could this Ferrari be peak ’60s grand-touring?
Intake: There are two camps of Ferrari enthusiasts: the Tifosi, and those who appreciate the art of the car. The racing cars are elegant in their form-follows-function way, but the 250-series Ferraris are beautiful in pure classic style. If you don’t believe us, let Jay Leno walk you around this 1960 Ferrari 250 PF Cabriolet. That “PF” signifies that the droptop coachwork was done by Pininfarina in Italy. The Columbo V-12 powerplant makes noises that may be even more sensual than the sheetmetal’s curves, especially when Jay puts his foot in it and lets the tach climb well past the 6000-rpm mark.
Exhaust: Restorations are hard, and Carl Steuer really had his work cut out for him when he got connected with this particular car. The cabriolet had fallen victim to a saltwater flood, and there was a prodigious amount of rust to be removed. The finished product is stunning—it’s hard to imagine that this model once traded hands as a used car in the classified sections of enthusiast magazines. Carl says he rebuilt this example to be a driver, and we hope it gets lots of miles, if for no other reason that it look best on the road.