For those in the know, Honda’s 2020 Civic Si is a saner alternative to the Civic Type R. The Civic Si is as reliable as death and taxes while still remaining a fun and tossable roundabout – all without the ridiculous scoops, vents, and aero bits in the Type R. But most of all, it’s more affordable than the Type R, and it offers almost the same level of performance on normal roads.
The Civic Si is a relative bargain compared to the Type R’s $37,000 base price. For the 2020 model year, Honda updated the Civic Si with refreshed styling, new interior features, and host of new standard safety tech.
The Honda Civic Si receives a moderate facelift
We were expecting the Civic Si to follow suit when Honda reinvigorated the base Civic sedan with a few nips and tucks. The 2020 Civic Si gets a new fascia with gloss trim and redesigned fog light housings. The Si coupe now comes with standard LED headlights derived from the high-end Civic Touring trim. All Civic Si models also benefit from new rear bumpers to match the changes to the front.
The interior is restyled as well
The new Honda Civic Si also receives a new user-friendly and ergonomic central infotainment system with physical buttons. If you’re one of those who disliked the previous system – most particularly the fiddly touch-sensitive scroll bar – you’ll love the new one. It now has a physical volume knob, which in our opinion should be standard in all modern cars. Also, the new Civic Si gets standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Honda is also kind enough to throw in new sports seats and red accents all throughout the cabin. The interior changes are minor, but it keeps the Civic Si updated in the face of stiff competition from the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, and Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line.
The new Civic Si receives a shorter final drive ratio
The only mechanical change in the new Civic Si is a shorter final-drive ratio. Both coupe and sedan versions of the Honda Civic Si are only sold with a six-speed manual transmission. But in order to improve acceleration, Honda resisted the urge to add horsepower. Instead, Honda settled for a shorter final-drive gear ratio.
This means shorter gearing in the standard limited-slip differential, which also equates to quicker acceleration off the line. However, there’s a catch: this also means you’ll have to deal with more engine noise at higher RPMs, which might prove annoying when cruising on the highway. But since we’re talking about a proper sporty Civic, we’re willing to cope with such trade-offs for the sake of a more enjoyable and exhilarating drive.
It still gets the familiar 1.5-liter turbocharged mill
The spunky 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the base Civic is a peach, but we prefer the relentless rush of power from the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-banger. In the 2020 Civic Si, this engine produces the same 205-horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque as the outgoing model. Of course, no Civic Si is complete without a six-speed manual and a sultry limited-slip differential.
Honda is yet to release final performance numbers, but we’re expecting the Civic Si coupe to rush from zero to 60 mph in around 6.3-seconds. Meanwhile, the sedan is equally quick at 6.7-seconds. Honda says the only factory option is a summer tire upgrade for $200 more.
Driver Assistance Tech with Honda LaneWatch
Active and passive safety is also part of the agenda. The 2020 Honda Civic Si now receives standard Honda Sensing which includes lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, and a road departure mitigation system. If that’s not enough, Honda’s new LaneWatch technology is also standard in the new Civic Si.
LaneWatch is an interesting and innovative piece of in-car safety technology. The system projects a camera feed of the passenger-side blind spot on the infotainment screen, which happens the very the moment you activate the right turn signal. It may sound gimmicky, but it does give the driver a better perspective of what’s happening behind the car when changing lanes.
The 2020 Honda Civic Si remains a veritable performance bargain. Prices start at $25,930 (including $930 destination fee) and include two-stage adaptive dampers, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and new matte-black 18-inch wheels. The new Civic Si arrives at dealerships in September.