CHATHAM, Mass. – The 2020 Rallye Red Honda Civic Si HPT Sedan looks like its straining to be unleashed while parked in my driveway thanks to the forward-leaning, chiseled lines emanating from the subtle rear spoiler to the sharply angled front headlamps and revised-for-2020 Honda winged front grill.
Depending on the trim level and model chosen (coupe, hatchback or, like our tester, four-door sedan), the Civic buyer can opt for a large variety of flavors ranging from unabashed practicality ($20,650, 30/38 miles per gallon city/highway for the entry-level sedan) to pure exhilaration (306-horsepower Civic Type R starting at $36,995). Regardless of variant, excellent fuel economy, fun-to-drive and solid value are built into the package.
The Civic Si leans towards the fun side of the equation, but still offers great value and excellent fuel economy – we saw 35.5 mpg while driving the 205-horsepower, six-speed manual front-wheel machine with extra verve and the air conditioner constantly blowing cold air (the federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the sedan at 26/30/36 city/combined/highway mpg). In addition, there was room for four-plus (it could be tight in the rear middle seat), a large, easily accessed trunk and an all-inclusive price of $25,400 (shipping/handling adds $955 to the price of any Civic).
Honda Civic Hatch Provides Frugal Fun
Last month we reviewed an automatic Civic Hatchback Sport Touring with 180 horsepower and continuously variable (automatic) transmission. That Civic brought driving fun wrapped in a more luxurious package.
The Si ratchets up the amusement factor several notches, starting with the oomph from under the hood. Those extra 25 horses from the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder, high-revving motor and slick shifting six-speed help to launch the Civic from stop lights, carve up curving mountain (okay, on Cape Cod they’re more like tall hills) roads and knife through traffic (a few of auto-writer clichés, but they actually are accurately descriptive in this case).
The sport-tuned chassis includes a two-mode adaptive damper system. The standard (everything on this car is included; there are no options) 18-inch matte black alloy wheels wear 235/40R18 high-performance tires (the HPT in the car’s name), while inside them 12.3-inch vented rotors/11.1-inch solid rotors (front/rear) provide stopping power.
This car is flat out a gas to drive and loves to be pushed and the engine revved, but even doing this, as mentioned, fuel economy remains in the mid 30s and the ride is controlled and comfortable.
Spacious, accommodating interior
Red accented, heated high-backed sport seats provide support with comfort in the simple, efficient large interior. The red accents are carried through above the instrument panel and A/C ducts of the dashboard which sprouts a seven-inch color touch screen at its center.
The screen controls the infotainment (including AM/FM/SirusXM satellite radio/Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/streaming audio from your smartphone) system, climate control and other vehicle systems. Physical buttons supplement the touch controls as well as a voice-recognition system triggered by a steering-wheel control.
The aforementioned audio system pumps 450 Watts of sound through the Si’s 10 speakers!
The roomy interior also allows for a multitude of storage cubbies and compartments. In addition to the “usual” bins in all four doors and the glovebox, Honda redesigned the center console for 2020 increasing cupholder sizes for larger drinks and added an under-dash storage at its front to keep your smartphone out of sight (which can be plugged into the USB port via a pass-through slot).
Safety and Driver Assistive Features
The 2020 Honda Civic Si standard active and passive safety features include Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control, driver and passenger front and side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist and Honda’s next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure.
The Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies standard on the Civic Si Sedan includes Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) incorporating Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) incorporating Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and automatic high-beams.
What is not included in the Honda Sensing suite or available on any Civic is passive blind side monitoring which would warn the driver without any activity on his or her part if a vehicle was approaching in either the right or left blind spot. This feature is either standard or available on virtually all the Civic’s competitors (many of which also have rear cross-traffic warning systems as well).
The Civic Si does come standard with Honda LaneWatch. Activating the right turn signal turns on a camera which shows the area on the right of the vehicle and behind it on that side, including blind spots. You can see cars, bicycles, pedestrians and objects before making your move to the right.
It’s not the same as a passive blind-spot monitoring system which is always active, but once you turn LaneWatch™ on, it provides even more information than the passive systems (but is limited to the right side; nothing on the driver’s side).
This is the 10th generation of Honda Civics which have earned the trust of car buyers all over the world. There is a lot of value packed into every Civic and the Si version, either in Sedan or Coupe configuration, packs in a strong dose of driving fun at a very reasonable price.
And you’ll be noticed when driving it – at least I was. I had more compliments on my ride this past week than with any other test car since August. High praise for Honda’s styling department and for a car in this price range.