You know it’s going to be a great week when a vehicle with a manual gear shift shows up in your driveway. That certainly held true in the case of the 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan in Rallye Red that I spent a week behind the wheel of recently. Hands down, it’s my favorite Honda test drive to date. It’s a fun-to-drive, sporty ride that hits the mark for entry-level driving enthusiasts and doubles as an easy to maneuver, comfortable daily driver that delivers great fuel economy at what I consider a great value.
The Si slots beneath the more powerful Type R, which is a thrill ride around a track, as I can attest to personally. The Type R offers 306-horsepower, while the Si offer 205-horses. But don’t let that difference in horsepower deter you. The front-wheel drive Si is a solid performer all its own.
The 1.5-liter turbo engine is mated to a 6-speed manual (the only transmission offered) and it delivers impressive acceleration. That has a lot to do with Honda’s tweaks to the gearbox for 2020. Instead of increasing horsepower, Honda gave the transmission a 6-percent shorter final-drive ratio for better acceleration and it gets my two thumbs up for responsiveness. A new rev-limit audio warning in the instrument cluster alerts you if you’re approaching the 6500 rpm redline and fuel cutoff. (You can turn the audio warning off.)
Equipped with a limited slip differential, the torque-heavy engine delivers 192 lb-ft of torque. The Si delivers has a 60/40 weight distribution, with a McPherson strut suspension in front and multi-link in the rear along with adaptive dampers and confident brakes. You can choose between normal and sport drive modes.
There is some engine noise, of course, associated with the turbo, but the noise is kind of part of the package. In fact, Honda’s also added Active Sound Control, which uses the audio system to enhance the engine sound during aggressive driving. By the way, the turbo engine means premium fuel is recommended.
High Performance Tires
The tires deserve special mention. This Civic Si is equipped with HPT, or High Performance (optional Summer) Tires and Honda takes special care on the Monroney to state that the tires will wear more rapidly than normal passenger car tires. Also there is no spare tire, but instead a tire repair kit.
The Civic Si wasn’t designed to blend in on the road. It’s distinctively and aggressively styled with bold shapes in the front and rear. 2020 tweaks include lower bumper fog light housings with gloss black surrounding trim and body-color crossbar, along with a matching bumper treatment. Honda also updated the wing grille crossbar. Also antiquated halogen lights are replaced with multi-element LEDs which produce a wide and longer light beam. LED fog lights are also new. The Si comes with heated, body-colored power side mirrors, a body-colored rear spoiler and a center outlet exhaust. New for 2020 matte black 18-inch wheels complete the sporty look.
The Rallye Red exterior color carries through to the Civic SI’s sporty cabin. You’ll find red trim pieces along with black and red cloth sports-bolstered and heated front seats with Si stitching on the headrests. The manually adjustable seats are comfortable for everyday use as well as for sportier driving around curves. Aluminum pedals greet your feet and a standard one-touch power moonroof is overhead.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching hosts controls for various functions including audio, menu selection and voice control. Press the push button start to the right and you’ll see a bright, easy to read digital 7-inch tachometer and driver display along with temp and fuel gauges. Driver info includes a G-Force gauge, turbo boost meter and a throttle/brake input gauge.
The main event of the center stack is a 7.0-inch high-resolution touchscreen. To me it’s a bit “busy” in terms of being jam packed with info and controls. A larger screen would help mitigate that issue as would simplifying the menu a bit. Overall, the system is responsive and you can also control it via surrounding buttons including an actual volume knob. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Bluetooth. The screen also houses a quality multi-angle rearview camera with guidelines. Below the multimedia screen you’ll find dual-zone climate, defroster and heated front seat controls.
Down on the center console you’ll see a well-done aluminum, leather-wrapped gear shifter with red stitching. It’s surrounded by buttons for the auto brake hold, an updated electronic parking brake with an indicator light and a button for sport mode. An updated center console houses larger cup holders and flexible storage space. There are two USB ports up front along with a 12-volt.
A just-right-for-this vehicle 450-watt premium audio system features 10 speakers, including a subwoofer, with tweeters placed in the corner of the front door panels.
The Civic Si Sedan is a practical choice if you’re looking for roominess in your sporty ride. There is plenty of leg-room both in front and back. There is a rear seat drop down console and heat ducts. They also fold down to a 60/40 split. There are also door-pocket storage bins in both front and back. Cargo space is ample and an electronic remote trunk release is standard.
All Civics come with standard Honda Sensing for 2020. It includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist System and Road Departure Mitigation incorporating Lane Departure Warning. Additionally, all Honda Civic models receive automatic high beams. Honda LaneWatch is a feature I really like. It projects a camera feed of your passenger-side blind spot onto the infotainment screen when you turn on the right turn signal.
What You’ll Pay
The Civic Si Sedan starts from $25,200 and it’s rather refreshing that the price point doesn’t escalate much from there. In my mind it’s a great value for the driving enthusiast who needs four doors and wants a lot of safety and reliability. If a two-door isn’t off your radar though, they do offer this as a Coupe, and in terms of comparison, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the even sportier 6-speed Toyota 86 GT which is priced slightly higher but still another great value.
If you’re looking for an entry-level, sporty and engaging four door sports sedan that’s practical yet fun, and affordable to boot, the Honda Civic Si should be on your shopping list.
2020 Honda Civic Si
- What I liked most: It’s 6-speed, acceleration and fun to drive, feel-good solid performance.
- What I would change: Simplify the infotainment multimedia touchscreen.
- MSRP: $25,200 base price, total MSRP with transportation: $26,130.
- Fuel Economy: 26 city/36 highway/30 combined.
- Official Color: Rallye Red.
- Odometer reading when tested: 2,044 miles.
- Weight: 2,906 lbs.
- Spare Tire: Tire Repair Kit.
- Length-Width-Height: 182.8” long/70.8” wide/55.5” high.
- Fuel Tank: 12.39 gallons with the filler on the driver's side. (Capless Fuel Filler)
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan in a few words: The Honda to consider if you’re looking for a solid performing, fuel efficient, fun to drive manual for a terrific value.
- Final Assembly Location: Alliston, Ontario, Canada
- Warranty: 36,000-Mile Limited Warranty, plus a 5-Year/60,000-Mile Powertrain Limited Warranty.
- Manufacturer's website: Honda