The affordable sporty car is alive and well.
Cynics will tell you the sporty car is dying off in favor of borings crossovers and SUVs. Why buy a car with only two doors and a small back seat when for the same money, you could get a practical SUV, right? Wrong. While there has been a precipitous drop in coupe sales in the United States, no one appears to have told Honda. The Japanese automaker recently announced updates to the Civic Si Coupe and its Sedan counterpart for the 2020 model year.
The Civic Si Sedan competes against the likes of the Hyundai Elantra Sport, Kia Forte GT, Subaru WRX, and Volkswagen Jetta GLI but the Coupe model has almost no competition. The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 exist in the same price range but they aren't as practical. Honda now has a monopoly on practical sports coupes.
The current 10th generation Civic is an attractive car and for 2020, Honda has dialed up the aggression for the Si models. Updates include a revised grille, fog light housings, gloss black trim, and LED headlights. The rear styling has also been updated and black 18-inch wheels now come standard wrapped in all-season tires or optional summer tires. These changes are all pretty minor but they add up to a pleasing refresh.
The cabin remains mostly the same but the Si's aggressive sport seats now come with red accents to match the new red trim on the instrument cluster. The Si comes nicely equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of safety technology, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, and Lane Departure Warning. Honda's standard touchscreen infotainment system also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Under the hood of the Si lies a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque going to the front wheels. Power is sent out through a six-speed manual transmission - no slushbox or CVT is available here. Si models also include a limited-slip front differential and adjustable two-mode adaptive damper system. For 2020, Honda has implemented a six-percent shorter final-drive ratio, which should improve acceleration. 0-60 mph for the outgoing 2019 model was rated at around 6.6 seconds, though this one should be a bit quicker.
One of the reasons people don't buy coupes any more is because they are less practical than sedans. But the Civic Coupe is one of the more practical two-door vehicles out there with minimal drawbacks compared to the Civic Sedan. It offers 35.9 inches of rear legroom, which is only 1.5 inches less than the sedan.
Likewise, the trunk offers 11.9 cubic feet of storage space (compared with 14.7 cubic feet in the sedan) and the rear seats fold for larger items. Fuel economy is also great for a sporty coupe - 26 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Those numbers have actually dropped by two mpg for 2020 due to the shorter final drive ratio.
The Civic Si Sedan will almost certainly outsell the Coupe but we are happy to see at least one automaker continue to offer an affordable sports coupe with a usable trunk and back seat. The Si accounts for around 5% of all Civic sales in 2019 and since these buyers want a sportier experience, a higher percentage opt for the Coupe compared to the standard Civic buyer. Pricing for the 2020 Civic Si Coupe starts at $25,000, which is $200 less than the sedan, though we doubt the $200 difference will be a major selling point for buyers.
People will opt for the Coupe because they like how it looks, don't need the back seat, or simply can't be bothered to find a Sedan sitting on the lot. It may not be a major moneymaker for Honda but we are glad the Civic Si Coupe still exists.