by Gabe Beita Kiser
Honda's iconic Civic has been around since the great oil crisis of the 1970s and has been so successful in assimilating into American culture, that these days you'll find more people with Civic tattoos in Southern California than people with tribal tattoos. Jokes aside, the Civic, and more importantly, the Si, has become a significant gateway car for those getting into competitive motorsports - whether it be track days or quarter-mile drag racing. It could be considered one of the most popular hotrods of the last two to three decades. The 2020 Civic Si Coupe continues to carry this torch proudly by offering a beautifully balanced driver's car with punchy performance and legendary Honda build quality at a price that's hard to believe. For only $25,000, you'll get a turbocharged Honda sports car with a six-speed manual transmission, bucket seats, adaptive suspension, and a massive smile on your face. The 2020 car goes up against the likes of the legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI and the young blood in the performance game, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.
The venerable Honda Civic has been with us in one shape or another for ten generations, and in its latest form, offers one of the best bang-for-your-buck automotive experiences. For 2020 Honda has made tweaks to both the exterior and interior of the Si Coupe. On the outside, the front and rear bumpers get a slight redesign to keep things looking fresh for the new decade and LED headlights now come as standard. The fresh-looking Si now wears a set of matte-black 18-inch wheels. The interior gets a few sporty red accents on the dashboard and seats. Beneath the skin, Honda has equipped 2020 cars with a quicker final-drive ratio, which should see improvements in acceleration and in-gear responsiveness. Good. Finally, you'll now get auto-forward braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and more as standard as well under the Honda Sensing umbrella.
Ever since the eighth-generation Civic was introduced back in 2005, the Civic has progressively grown into a more alien-looking creature, which has caused much controversy amongst fans, but as the Si Coupe and Civic Type R have proven, as long as it drives well, the looks will grow on you. The 2020 Si Coupe looks sharper thanks to a redesigned front and rear bumper, and the blacked-out grille with Si badging gives this Civic a true sense of purpose, as do the new 18-inch wheels. The Si Coupe now comes standard with LED headlights with auto on/off functionality. Other exterior features worth mentioning include the one-touch power moonroof with tilt feature, keyless entry, LED fog lights, that sporty center-exit exhaust pipe, and a set of heated and body-colored wing mirrors.
The Si is a compact sports coupe, despite its modern exterior design making it seem bulkier than it actually is. The 2020 car measures in with a total length of 177.3 inches, which places it in between the 168-inch Golf GTI, and the 180.9 inch Subaru WRX. Height comes in at 54.7 inches, and the total width is 70.9 inches. Interestingly, the Civic Si Coupe rolls on a longer wheelbase (106.3 inches) than both the WRX, a sedan, and the GTI, a traditional hatchback. Curb weight is kept nice and low at 2,889 pounds, which is noticeable when you're flinging it around the corners or stomping on the brake pedal. The Si Coupe is 173 pounds lighter than the GTI, and over 400 pounds lighter than the AWD-equipped WRX.
You can have your 2020 Civic Si Coupe in a choice of six different exterior colors. Since the Si has a distinctly sporty nature; most will go for either the Crystal Black Pearl, Platinum White Pearl, or Rallye Red, all three of which have been popularized by the legendary Type R. Modern Steel, Lunar Silver, and Aegean Blue are also on offer. Most new Si Coupes will be sold in either black, white or red, but if it were up to us, we'd go with the slightly different, but equally attractive, Modern Steel, which looks pretty menacing when combined with those black wheels and red Si badges, either way, the Civic Si Coupe wears its futuristic design on its sleeve, and no paint job will be able to hide its Japanese sci-fi awesomeness.
We've never been able to fully comprehend why so many people like to make fun of fast Hondas. Sure, slapping a loud exhaust on a 25-year old Civic isn't going to win you any track day awards, but true performance models such as the Integra GS-R with its high-revving 1.8-liter VTEC engine and beautifully responsive chassis is still one of the best front-wheel-drive sports cars ever produced. Just because your Fox-body can gap one from the lights doesn't make it slow - try keeping up with one through the canyons. The 2020 Si Coupe stays true to its predecessors; a low curb weight and free-revving engine with mild outputs come together to deliver an incredibly satisfying driving experience. With 205 horsepower to haul along only 2,889 lbs, the Si feels quick, especially at low to mid-speed driving, which is where it will spend most of its life. The zero to sixty sprint times is measured in the mid to low six-second range, which is slower than the likes of VW's GTI, but again, straight-line speed is not the Civic Si's forte; it loves carrying speed through corners and has enough torque available from its 1.5-liter turbo engine to mask small driving errors. Even lovers of big American muscle will find something to like about how the Si performs.
New technologies bring new possibilities, and in general terms, cars have been getting better with each passing year, but one thing that technological advancement sometimes neglects to take into account is a little bit of soul. Ask any fan across the globe what they think makes a fast Honda great, and they'll respond in a unanimous roar, "It's the engine!". It's only in recent years that small-displacement turbocharged engines have made their way into performance Honda cars; before that, Honda was one of the last bastions of high-compression, high-revving peak-power motors that had to be pushed beyond what any person would deem sane in order to enjoy their full potential. This characteristic of having to work for every horsepower, every mile per hour, and every split second, is what has traditionally made driving the Si Coupe so much fun, but we're happy to report that throwing a turbocharger in the mix hasn't made things worse, it has just made it more balanced.
The turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Si produces 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque from only 2,100 rpm. Thanks to all that low down torque, the cost of making a mistake when entering or exiting a corner is reduced, so the Si Coupe is more comfortable to drive than its peaky predecessors, but the fact that it can't rev into the stratosphere, and sounds like a jetski at full tilt makes us want to shed a little H-shaped tear. And what about the transmission? It's a six-speed manual from Honda, so you get ultra-crisp and positive shifts up and down the range, and the shortened final drive means you get even more in-gear acceleration - a pleasure.
You know Honda is serious about the Civic Si Coupe's handling capabilities when they offer a Honda Factory Performance package in the options list. The Si Coupe isn't as hardcore as the Type R, which provides a compromised everyday driving experience for the sake of excellent on-track dynamics. Instead, Honda offers a sporty coupe that displays excellent driving dynamics on and off the track without ever having to compromise on everyday comfort. Select sport mode, and the Si loads up the steering feel, stiffens up the suspension, and becomes a razor-sharp corner carving tool that feels just as sharp as the Golf GTI. Steering weight is about as good as it gets and allows you to point and follow the nose of the Si with impressive accuracy. Guiding the chassis with throttle-lift steering is a laugh a minute, and once committed to a steering line, the Si Coupe will hang on for dear life. What Honda has managed to do is build a car that's easy, and more importantly, fun to drive fast and should feel entirely natural for lovers of the old generation of fast Civic, CRX, and Integra cars.
Trust Honda to build a turbocharged six-speed manual sports coupe that can still deliver economy car gas mileage figures. The combination of a light curb weight and a small capacity turbocharged engine allows the 2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe to provide a gas mileage figure of 26/36/30 mpg city/highway/combined, which deserves a round of applause. The VW Golf GTI, which is powered by a larger and more powerful 2.0-liter four-pot engine and carries around a few more pounds, still manages a respectable 24/32/27 mpg. The Civic Si's 12.39-gallon fuel tank gives it an estimated maximum range of 371 miles.
The interior of the 2020 Civic Si Coupe looks fresh and we love the multi-tier effect on the dashboard; and, in typical Honda fashion, it feels as if it will last a lifetime. Honda has definitely gone for a sporty feel inside the cabin, which distinguishes itself from the run of the mill Civic by scattering aluminum, carbon weave, and red touches across the inside, along with a set of serious-looking sport bucket seats. The end result is a cabin that feels focused but still affords its occupants a comfortable and user-friendly experience. For 2020, standard interior features include push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons, a power sunroof and sport bucket seats with manual height adjustment. At the price point, the Civic Si Coupe's interior is excellent and in terms of fit and finish, can stand alongside sports cars of double the asking price.
Wide opening doors make getting in and out of the Si Coupe a simple job, even for larger adults. Once inside, the Civic Si Coupe surprises with its spacious cabin, and driving enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the driving position is spot-on: the sporty Si steering wheel is a perfect size, and there's enough steering wheel and seat adjustability to get most people comfortable. Visibility out the front is good, but the busy rear will force most to rely heavily on the reverse camera. Legroom is ample in the front, measuring 42.3 inches, but gets tighter in the rear at 35.9 inches. Headroom is snug at 36.5 inches in front and 34.5 in the rear, but we found that six-foot-tall passengers had no problems getting comfortable in the front and back, with the sloping roofline and two-door configuration only hampering ingress and egress to the rear seats.
There's not much in the way of interior material and color options: what you get is quality black cloth upholstery on the seats with tasteful red accent stitching and a cabin awash in premium plastic, aluminum, and carbon-weave trimmings. Seeing as the Si Coupe is a driver-focused car, Honda has made sure that important driver touchpoints such as the shift knob, steering wheel, and pedals all have a premium quality feel, which goes a long way to creating a sense of occasion in an otherwise unembellished interior space. The Honda Factory Performance package adds a set of HFP floor mats that are sure to drop average lap times by around 2 seconds in true ricer fashion.
Don't let the coupe classification fool you; the Si Coupe offers a surprisingly generous amount of space for what it is, but if trunk space is a vital part of your purchasing decision, then you'd be better off looking at the less powerful, but more practical Civic Sport hatchback. The Si Coupe offers a total trunk capacity of 11.9 cubic feet, which might sound small, but in reality, the wide opening trunk lid and low liftover make it feel rather voluminous, and there should be enough space to comfortably fit all the parts you need to get that K-swapped CRX project back on the road. In typical Honda fashion, the interior is adorned with clever storage compartments in front of the shifter, in the center console, and along the door panels, so finding a spot to hold your vape pen or BoostedBoiz merch won't be an issue.
The 2020 Civic Si Coupe comes packed with standard features, which, besides offering a highly entertaining driving experience, has to be one of its biggest selling points. From the exterior, right through to the list of active driver assistance features, it is amazing how much Honda has managed to cram inside this little JDM gem. Noteworthy exterior features include Standard LED headlights and fog lights with auto on/off feature, heated and body-colored power mirrors, a one-touch power moonroof, and remote trunk release. Moving to the inside of the Si Coupe, you can expect to find practical features such as push-button start, a 12-volt power outlet in the front, as well as removable cup holders in the front. The manually-adjustable sport bucket seats get the heat treatment, and there's a dual-zone climate control system to keep things cool when track temps start to rise. Active driver assistance features, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and forward-collision warning are all included for the new year, added to the Honda Sensing suite of features.
Honda has never been able to crack the whole infotainment thing, but things have gotten better after the introduction of a new system in 2019. The basic seven-inch high-resolution touch-screen display used in the 2020 Civic Si Coupe is on the small size, but it's a hassle-free system to use once you get used to the robotic voice command system and the general system navigation. We found that sticking to the integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms worked better than the native offering. Included in the standard infotainment package are SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth with HandsFreeLink, speed-sensitive volume compensation, and a couple of USB ports. We were thoroughly impressed with the standard sound system, which features a 450-watt output with ten speakers and a built-in subwoofer; it delivers clean and punchy notes that can make Ja Rule sound like a baby-faced Post Malone on demand.
You might as well skip this section, as the Civic Si Coupe hasn't been recalled once in the last two years. The people over at J.D. Power are also quite fond of the Si Coupe, giving the 2019 model a reliability and consumer satisfaction rating of 78 out of a possible 100. Honda backs the Civic Si Coupe with a basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty, which includes a five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty, a five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty, and a three-year/36,000-mile roadside assistance plan.
The Si Coupe has not been crash-tested by either the NHTSA or IIHS, but the standard two-door base models have been put through their paces. The NHTSA was impressed with its overall abilities and gave it a full five out of five stars on its overall rating scale. The IIHS, as per usual, was more critical in their post-crash analysis and found that the Civic's headlights were not up to scratch, although top scores of Good were given for six other evaluations.
The Si Coupe comes fully loaded with all the safety features Honda has to offer for the Civic range of cars. This means you get the entire suite of basic safety features such as ABS, traction control, and six airbags, but the best bits are to be found under the Honda Sensing technologies umbrella. Standard active driver assistance features include forward collision avoidance assistance, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keep and lane departure assistance as well as auto forward braking. The LED headlights sport auto on/off function, and the reverse parking camera includes dynamic guideline markers. It is impressive to see these types of advanced driver assistance systems being made available as standard at this price point.
It's a well-known fact that the Honda Civic, in any form, is a solid bet if you're in the market for a compact car; they're built to last for hundreds of thousands of miles and have traditionally offered a great balance of performance, economy, safety, and practicality. So what do you get when you take all of those elements and throw in some fun? The Civic Si Coupe must be one of the best performance bargains on the market today; for only $25,000, you get a turbocharged, 205-hp sports coupe, which will stick with much more expensive hardware through the corners, and still get 30 mpg. The exterior styling might be slightly contentious, but it's not the ugliest sports coupe we've ever tested (Chrysler Crossfire - never forget, #RIP), and once you experience how dynamic the Si Coupe is, you'll be sold. The interior has a quality feel to it, there is enough trunk space to make it a viable daily driver for a small family or single parent, and you get all the bells and whistles too, from auto on/off LED headlights and a power moonroof to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration to automatic forward emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. If you're in the market for something fun and practical for 25K or under, the Si Coupe is the only choice.
It's hard to comprehend how Honda has managed to pack so much value into such an affordable package. Starting with an MSRP of $25,000 excluding a destination fee of $930, the Civic Si Coupe has to be one of the performance car bargains of the year. For $25,000 are you not only getting a 205-hp turbocharged performance coupe, but you're getting Honda reliability, practicality, and a general sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that you've made a sound purchasing decision. The Golf GTI in base form costs $2,595 more and doesn't include half of the active driver assistance or interior convenience features that you'd find in the Si Coupe. Fully equipped with every conceivable extra, the Si Coupe will set you back just over $30,600.
The Civic Si Coupe is a standalone model and is only available in one trim. As the range-topping performance model for 2020, the Si Coupe comes packed with standard features, some of which you'll struggle to find on the standard equipment list of much more expensive competitors. The Si Coupe is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pushing out 205 hp, rides on a sports-tuned chassis and adaptive suspension, and is only available with an old-school six-speed manual transmission. The exterior features keyless access, LED lighting, and a power moonroof, while the cabin gets the classic red and black racing theme by Honda. Heated cloth bucket seats keep you firmly in place, a two-zone automatic climate control system keeps you cool, and a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration keeps you entertained. The Si Coupe is also packed with active driver safety tech such as adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and collision avoidance assistance.
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The 2020 Si Coupe already comes with all the features Honda has to offer, so the options list is kept short. The only package on offer is the $3,999 Honda Factory Performance package which is more of an appearance package than anything else, and adds a number of HFP badges around the inside and outside of the car, HFP floor mats, and underbody spoilers - but most importantly, you get HFP tuned suspension and a set of 19-inch HFP black alloy wheels wrapped in sticky summer tires. Other than that, Honda offers smaller styling accessories such as a $285 grille accent or $217 body side molding.
There's only one to buy, so here's why you should: at its price point, the Civic Si Coupe offers one of the best value propositions in the sports coupe class, period. You won't be able to find a car this accomplished, fun, and practical for less than $25,000. The Si Coupe was designed with spirited driving in mind, that's why the 205-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, and the adaptive suspension setup and perfectly weighted steering are set up not for the most comfortable city driving experience, but for wholesome sports driving. As the headlining performance Civic for 2020, the Si Coupe is flush with standard equipment and tech features; for 2020, all Si Coupes come with standard LED lighting and sporty 18-inch all-black alloy wheels. Keyless entry, climate control, Bluetooth streaming, and satellite radio are a few features worth mentioning that makes living with the Si such a pleasure, and it will keep you safe too, thanks to standard adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking and more.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI might have been one of the first hot hatches to hit the streets, but since the glory days of the Mk1 Rabbit, a large number of competitors have stepped up to the plate. For 2020, the GTI offers the same value proposition as it has for the last decade or so; a sporty chassis, punchy turbo engine, and class-leading refinement, which translates into a car that might not feel as edgy as some, but does everything so well that it's almost impossible to complain. The Si Coupe doesn't share its classic hatchback styling, but both cars offer similar driving experiences and are closely priced. The GTI is the more powerful, and better-performing car thanks to its 228 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot engine, but won't be able to shake the Honda through a set of twisty back roads. A combined fuel consumption figure of 27 mpg is impressive, but can't match the Honda. Inside, the Golf offers superior refinement and comfort, but in base, or even mid-range spec, can't match the Civic's offering of standard features. You'll have to go for the $31,795 SE model to get all the active driver assistance and comfort features. The Golf does what the Si Coupe does, but in greater comfort, and at a higher asking price. Your move.
Yes, it's got four doors, but the WRX and Si Coupe, both performance-minded models, are closely priced and offer a lot of the same thrills, but both bring their own strong and weak points to the table. The 2020 Subaru WRX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four boxer engine producing a notable 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is significantly more power than you get out of the Si Coupe. Power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission, which allows it to sprint to sixty in the mid-five-second range, and on to a fuel consumption figure of 21/27/23 mpg, which is the price it pays for all that straight-line performance. The WRX's four-door design makes it the obvious winner in terms of practicality, but that's pretty much where the buck stops. The Civic offers a higher quality interior, more standard features, and active driver assistance tech. Out on the road, the WRX is a pleasure to live with and offers an entertaining driving experience - despite not being as engaging as the Si Coupe. The WRX offers more space, straight-line punch, and AWD, but the Civic feels like a better product in terms of build quality, available features, and driver engagement.