Checking a new version of a car you previously owned means you have high (and biased) expectations. I was all I was thrilled with my 2008 Honda Civic Si and the following models left an increasingly sour taste in my mouth. But the Si has proven itself again with the 1
- Turbo torque loads
- High quality adaptive dampers
- An absolute blast to drive
I do not like it
- Inconsistent throttle
- Deaf clutch pedal
- Hang too much speed
While not nearly as loud as the Straight Outta Akira Type R, the 2020 Si is still pretty eye-catching, and the 10th generation Civic is definitely one of those cars that you either love or hate. I think it looks pretty sharp, also thanks to new standard LED headlights that not only spice up the aesthetics but also improve safety through increased visibility. The front bumper has a lot to offer, but the flash of body color beautifully breaks up the otherwise dull width of the false-looking lower inlets. There’s a wing at the back that you can’t do anything against – if it’s too hot for your taste, the sedan has a much tamer tail.
Open the large, surprisingly heavy doors of the Si Coupé and you have one and a half ways to the rear seat – only the front passenger seat can be tilted and pushed so far that it is easier to penetrate. Tilting the driver’s seat lever creates an incline without slip. When you return there you have enough leg room for larger passengers. However, headroom can be an issue for adults; The creeping roofline of the coupe fixes my head against the top of the rear window.
Otherwise, the interior is one of the best in its segment. Honda’s build quality is top notch, and while the Civic is still an inexpensive vehicle, nothing in the 2020 Si Coupe suggests that Honda is cheaper. Artificial carbon fiber may not be everyone’s choice, but I like the way the dash is layered with a variety of physical switches that are always close to my hands. The front seats are simply the best, with the right padding on the bottom and lots of padding on the sides, in addition to rocking a very comfortable fabric. Manual adjustment is the only way you can go here. This is fine given the reasonably affordable entry fee ($ 25,200).
Coupes carry less cargo than their four-door brothers, but the 11.9 cubic feet of the Civic Si are more than enough for trips to … well, whatever is actually open these days. I have no problem pushing back food worth a few weeks that still has room. A shadow under 12 cubes may seem small, but for comparison: a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé can only muster 10.5, so you have it better than the neighbors of the chic pants on the street. There’s also plenty of storage space in the cabin, with cubbies both in and under the center console, in addition to a sliding cup holder that easily fits into a decent wallet or large-sized water bottles.
The 2020 Si Coupé is damn quiet on the road in normal driving situations. The standard adaptive two-mode dampers offer a suitable but sporty conformity in the standard setting. It will soak up most of the bad parts of the road, but the chassis will still tell the cabin the more important divots and bumps. If you throw the Si into sport, things get a little stiffer, but the driving experience is not significantly improved. So I think it’s best to leave the suspension on the soft side. The choice of wheels and tires usually depends on the driving quality of a car. However, when you consider that all Civic Si models rock 18-inch wheels, there is no way to downsize the rollers to increase smoothness. My tester rocks the optional set of 235/40 Goodyear Eagle F1 performance summer tires, but apart from some additional noise on incomplete roads, the tire selection should be left to your local climate and whether you want to jump for special winter rubber or not.
And then there’s the powertrain. I’m torn here and there. The engine of the Si is an absolute peach. The 1.5-liter turbocharged Inline-4 transfers 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels, and while that doesn’t seem like much, it feels quite punchy. A lot of torque is available in every gear at almost every point in the speed range, reducing downshifts and improving corner exits and escape routes with green lights. It’s a bit loud, but the exhaust is pleasant and it’s nice that you don’t have to pay for this sound anymore. The standard six-speed manual transmission is precise, with short, engaging shifts that never feel like a chore. Sport mode increases the weight of the electric power steering and increases throttle response, but like the suspension, it doesn’t make such a big difference that I think it’s necessary to have a good time.
The fuel consumption of the Civic Si is also impressive. The EPA rates the 2020 Si Coupe as 26 miles per gallon of city, which I can easily achieve. The government has attached this car to a 36 MPG freeway, but I regularly look north of 40 if I keep up with traffic between the Metro and Detroit.
Now for the things that need to be improved. As a person who enjoys a well-placed speed-adjusted downshift, I’m confused by the accelerator pedal of the Civic Si, which is about as constant as the weather in the Midwest. Some throttle levers trigger the perfect speed spike to shift smoothly into a lower gear, while other blocks of the same or greater strength do next to nothing and turn a sensitive balance of the pedals into a hot, chaotic express. Type R speed adjustment software would virtually eliminate this problem. It’s also about the clutch pedal, which is completely devoid of feeling and weight. The bite point requires some guesswork, which results in more clutch slippage than necessary, and fast shifting doesn’t feel smooth. Another obfuscation of the idea of a comfortable ride is the so-called speed hanging, in which you press the clutch and “hang” the engine speed before you fall. It is particularly hideous in the dual gear shift, where the tachometer needle sits at least half a second before it falls, making it difficult to plan a quick, smooth shift. All of these problems can be put aside by simply waiting a little longer and slowing down, which, as you know, is a great feature in a sports car.
Just like the engine, there is a lot to like at Honda in the car, even if the edges are a bit rough. A 7-inch touchscreen display is standard, but it still uses the older version of Honda’s display audio infotainment system, which is a bit bare given Hyundai’s rivals and (believe it or not) Toyota.and are both standard, which is nice, but the factory navigation can’t be added – a good problem as the smartphone mirroring outperforms Honda’s built-in stuff all day. The resolution of the rear view camera is rather low, but dynamic parking lines compensate for the lack of ultrasonic sensors. USB ports are missing, two USB-A ports for the front seats and none for the rear seats. The connector used for telephone mirroring offers a charging capacity of only 1.5 amperes, while the connector hidden under the cup holders manages only 1.0 ampere, which does not provide a positive net charge in resource-intensive applications.
I wouldn’t blame you that manual transmissions are unable to pack the latest and greatest safety technologies simply because most shift cars don’t have this stuff. But Honda has given the Si the complete Honda Sensing Suite with active and passive driver aids, one of the few automakers that do this (VWs also on this list). Adaptive Cruise doesn’t work below 22 mph, but it still works above and incredibly well for booting. Lane Keeping Assist is always nice to have, and automatic emergency braking is also here – both systems are a bit too sensitive for my taste, but it is a great relief to counteract all the bad drivers out there.
For $ 25,930 including destination ($ 930), the Honda Civic Si Coupé 2020 offers a solid blend of driving dynamics and affordability. It also places it in the middle of the competition. The Si is more expensive than the Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line, but feels much faster and more fun (even if the clutch pedal of the GT N-Line is much better). Honda’s offer is several thousand dollars below the VW Golf GTI, but the hot hatch is worth the money considering that it remains the best car in this segment.
But for the money you spend, it is a difficult task to beat the Honda Civic Si 2020. With the right driving dynamics, a decent addition to the technology and a unique aesthetic, Honda’s mass market sports car is just the thing.