IMPROVED PERFORMANCE – MORE ORDINARY: 2020 HONDA CIVIC SI
The Honda Civic Si is one of the best driving performance cars money can buy under $25,000. With over 200-horsepower from a turbocharged engine matted to a six-speed manual, Honda isn’t losing sight of what the automotive enthusiasts want. However, when it was launched in 2016, it wasn’t without a few… quirks. As we stroll into a new decade, Honda has taken notice to some of these minor imperfections and took a car from darn near perfect and made it… ordinary?
Don’t bite my head just yet. After the latest generation of the Civic Si launched, it was everything we as enthusiasts wanted – maybe not so much the turbo – but the concept worked! That value still holds true here. The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the cream of the crop with 205-horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque flocking to the front wheels from a six-speed manual transmission. With our Civic Si sitting on beefy summer treads, its tires were stickier than a toddler covered in grape jelly. This combo added quicker acceleration and better handling to the cars overall demeanor as we saw nearly 6.5-seconds to 60 mph. Given its limited-slip differential, it doesn’t joke around when it comes to laying down its power with its high-torque responsiveness and quick shifting six-speed manual transmission that will light up the dash quicker than Clark Griswold electric bill.
So then why do we feel the Si has fallen to an ordinary category? It all cascades onto the Sport Hatchback – side by side, the Sport Hatch has more flair and chicness. The Sport features a front lip spoiler, side skirts, a rear diffuser and better styled 18-inch wheels. The Si on the other looks like an ordinary Civic with upgraded LED headlights, a stick on spoiler and conventional 18-inch black painted wheels that look spray painted.
Despite looking like an ordinary Civic sedan, something that Sport Hatch doesn’t have is the Si finesse. A major change that will go unnoticed to the naked eye is the six-percent shorter final-drive ratio. This improves responsiveness and acceleration while in sixth-gear without the need to downshift. Active Sound Control was also added – why? We don’t know. Once engaging sport mode to energize our driving pleasure, we were annoyed with the theatrical sounds of what could only transmit as an early 2000’s arcade game exhaust note constant buzzing through the speakers. Better left with sport mode off.
When we were first informed of the arrival of our Civic Si, our excitement grew even more intense as the acronym HPT was next to it. Little did we know how dumb we were that HPT was not the $3999 Honda Factory Performance Package (HFP) that included upgraded adaptive damper suspension system, 19-inch forged wheels, and a series of styling cues; instead it installed the $673 High Performance summer Tires (HPT). Summer tires on the HFP option would be a wise way to go considering the adaptive dampers can sort out the roads irregularity; however, on our standard car, the summer tires increased the cars discomfort with harsher impacts from the road, louder road noise, and stiffer steering. Unless it’s a constant track day weekend – best to stick with the standard all-seasons.
Consumers will take notice that Honda has improved their user functionality when it comes to managing their cars infotainment system and climate control by integrating additional buttons for easier use. The addition of Honda Sensing brings in more safety tech with Forward Collision Warning and Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist and Automatic High Beams. Due to the Civic Si being sold only as a manual, Adaptive Cruise Control is not available here.
With our tester coming in four-doors rather than the preferred two, occupants were easy to fit in the back verses the coupe. There is more room and comfort for three occupants. Given the oddness of the sedan’s styling, we’re still not sure why the rear spoiler looks like it was glued on verses the free standing spoiler on the Coupe. Pricing for both the Coupe and Four-Door increased nearly $1000 to a starting price of $25,000 flat. With our addition of the high performance summer tires, our Civic Si featured an MSPR of $26,603.
So the Si looks a bit ordinary, that doesn’t change the way it makes us feel when we’re behind the wheel. With short throws between gears, sport wrapped seats, and a thick leather wrapped steering wheel – the only thing that matters is what’s under the hood and inside the car. If that’s the price to pay for ordinary, then we’ll glad pay it.
Model: 2020 HONDA CIVIC SI
Starting Price: $25,200
As Tested: $26,130
Color: RALLY RED
Engine: 1.5-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 205-HORSEPOWER / 192 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 6-SPEED MANUAL
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE W/ LIMITED-SLIP DIFFERENTIAL
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 26-CITY / 36-HWY / 30-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 28.0 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±6.5 SECONDS