It's hard to imagine how Honda could make it any better.
Long ago, American car enthusiasts jealously watched on as European and Japanese gearheads enjoyed the Honda Civic Type R. Then, everything changed when the Type R finally came to the US market in 2018. Honda has even improved the Civic Type R for 2020 but even with the excitement of this flagship model, enthusiasts should not for a minute forget about the humble, yet excellent, Civic Si.
The 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan and Coupe were also given a slew of improvements for the new model year. It may not be a track weapon like the Type R but with a price of just $25,100, the Si is a much greater value and an outstanding daily driver. Honda recently sent us a bright red Si sedan for a week and we came away almost lacking anything negative to say about it. Here's why the Civic Si is a perfect $25,000 car.
The Type R's boy-racer styling is a topic of controversy, as many people believe the massive rear wing, tri-tip exhaust, and red accents are too over-the-top. By contrast, we think that the Si is more subdued without looking boring. For the 2020 model year, Honda added standard LED headlights, a revised grille, and new 18-inch black wheels. The Si still stands out over a normal Civic with a nicely-sized rear spoiler but without drawing unwanted attention.
Honda says the Si only accounts for around five percent of all Civic sales (compared to around two percent for the Type R), so it will still feel like a special event when you see one out on the road. We slightly prefer the unique rear styling of the coupe but the sedan is more practical. With the coupe only accounting for around seven percent of all Civic sales, seeing an Si Coupe will be a truly rare occasion.
True to its legacy, the Civic Si is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission. If you want an automatic, you need to look elsewhere. Honda still makes one of the slickest manual transmissions on the market with a light clutch pedal and snappy gear changes. It is an absolute joy to drop down the gears just so you can have the pleasure of rowing back up them again.
The manual transmission is tied to a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. The 6.8-second 0-62 mph time is a bit slower than rivals as a result of the front-wheel-drive layout and lack of a dual-clutch option but it feels quick enough and we'll trade a few tenths of a second for driving enjoyment any day.
With a price tag of just $25,200, you might expect Honda to charge extra for safety and tech features. But you'd be wrong. The Si comes with Honda Sensing as standard, bundling adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, a lane change camera, and more. These are features that you do not get as standard on many luxury cars costing twice as much. Other standard features include automatic climate control, heated sport seats, a sunroof, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.
The Honda Civic is classified as a compact car but it feels more like a midsize inside. The rear seat in the sedan offers 37.4 inches of legroom, which is just 0.6 inches less than a midsize Toyota Camry. Even the coupe, which offers slightly less rear legroom at 35.9 inches, is more spacious than a full-size Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe. In fact, the Civic Coupe offers more rear legroom than any other two-door car on the market.
In the trunk, the sedan offers a whopping 14.7 cubic feet (just 0.4 less than a Camry) while the coupe is still pretty livable with 11.9 cubic feet. The Civic Type R is a bit more practical with its hatchback bodystyle but the Si is still a perfectly roomy daily driver. Despite its large-for-a-compact proportions, the Si still feels small and nimble from behind the wheel.
If we had to nitpick, our list of faults with the 2020 Civic Si would be limited to just three items; the rev hang, infotainment display, and gauge cluster. Rev hang occurs when you push in the clutch and the revs take a moment before they drop off. This can result in some clunky gear changes at lower speeds but we quickly adapted and wouldn't consider this a dealbreaker. The Civic's infotainment, like some other Honda systems, is laggy compared to rivals and we wish the digital gauge cluster was brighter, as it was difficult to read the tachometer with sunglasses.
All of these flaws are completely minor and none would detract us from recommending the Civic Si. The Type R might be the better car for enthusiasts who plan to visit racetrack but for about $12,000 less, the Si has the wider appeal.