2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe long-term wrap-up: Summertime send-off

Honda is discontinuing the two-door Civic Si, so we spent a few months with one to properly say goodbye.

CNET Cars staff
5 min read
2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe
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2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe

The whole Civic Coupe range is going away.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Our long-term road tests usually last about a year, giving us time to put a car through tens of thousands of miles of use, usually in multiple locations around the country. But when Honda offered us a three-month loan on a Civic Si Coupe in Detroit, we knew we'd be foolish to say no. And considering the two-door Si has officially been discontinued, we're extra glad we had the opportunity to say a proper goodbye.

One of the best things the Civic Si has going for it is the overall value proposition: The car you're looking at costs $25,930, including $930 for destination. Power comes from a 1.5-liter turbo I4 engine with 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, and the Civic Si can only be had with a six-speed manual transmission. LED headlights and a full suite of driver-assistance tech is standard, as is a 7-inch Display Audio infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Overall, it's a great package. Here's what some of our editors had to say.

2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe has the right moves

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Daniel Golson
Social Media Editor

It's hard to think of a better performance bargain than the Civic Si, especially after spending a few weeks with this one. At $25,930 it's cheaper than most of its competitors, and welcome changes for 2020 like LED headlights, heated front seats, a volume knob for the infotainment system and some other niceties fixed most of my previous gripes with the car.

Honda also adjusted the gearing for 2020, improving an already great manual transmission that has snappy and short throws, though the clutch pedal is a little numb for my liking. I'm also a fan of the power delivery from the Si's turbocharged engine, and even when driven hard it gets great fuel economy.

But the most impressive part of this Si are the optional Goodyear Eagle F1 summer tires. I seriously can't think of a better way to spend $200 -- the tires are ultra grippy, allowing for cornering speeds you wouldn't expect from a compact like this. Ride quality is pretty great, too, and the electric power steering is nicely weighted and offers good feel.

That said, I do wish the Si had a little more personality. The engine sounds uninspiring, a far cry from the glorious Hyundai Veloster N. And while the Si is a hoot on a good twisty road, it's not as fun in day-to-day driving as the Veloster or a Mazda MX-5 Miata. For the money, though, the Si is extremely hard to beat.

2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe
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2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe

A few interior updates make the 2020 Civic Si an even nicer daily driver.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Andrew Krok
Reviews Editor

Reviewing a new version of a car you used to own means coming in with some lofty (and biased) expectations. I was quite smitten with my 2008 Honda Civic Si, and the models that followed left me with an increasingly sour taste in my mouth. But the Si has come back into its own with the 10th-generation Civic, packing turbocharged power in a chassis that's ready to party with some new tricks along the way. It felt like Honda was falling off the path in the last few years of sportier models, but it's back on the right track with the 2020 Civic Si.

On the road, the 2020 Si Coupe is pretty darn sedate in normal driving situations, with its standard two-mode adaptive dampers offering up suitable-but-still-sporty compliance in its default setting. It'll soak up most of the road's bad bits, but the chassis will still communicate the more important divots and bumps to the cabin. Throw the Si into Sport and things get a bit stiffer, but it doesn't improve the driving feel by a huge margin, so I find it best to leave the suspension on the soft side.

Now, for the stuff that needs improvement. As a person who enjoys a well-placed, rev-matched downshift, I am confounded by the Civic Si's throttle mapping, which is about as consistent as Midwestern weather. Some throttle blips will elicit the perfect spike in revs to slide into a lower gear smoothly, while other blips of the same or greater magnitude will do pretty much nothing at all, turning a delicate balance of pedals into a chassis-rocking hot mess express. The Type R's rev-matching software would all but eliminate this issue. There's also the matter of the clutch pedal, which is entirely devoid of feeling and weight. The bite point takes some guess work, resulting in more clutch slip than is necessary, and fast shifting feels anything but smooth. Further obfuscating the idea of a comfortable ride is what's known as rev hang, which is when you push in the clutch and the engine's revolutions "hang" before falling. It's especially heinous in the one-two shift, where the tachometer's needle will sit for at least a half-second before falling, making it hard to time a quick, smooth shift. All these problems can be cast to the side by simply waiting a bit longer and shifting slower, which is, you know, a great trait in a sports car.

But for the money you shell out, it's tough to top the 2020 Honda Civic Si. With proper driving dynamics, a decent complement of technology and some unique aesthetics, Honda's mass-market sports car is a right hoot.

2020 Honda Civic Si

The boomerang full-width taillights are one of this car's best design features.

Sean Szymkowski/Roadshow

Sean Szymkowski
News Editor

Right away, the Civic Si has the look. I love the bright red color on top of the lovely coupe shape. The Coupe is by far the best-looking Civic of the bunch, what with its boomerang taillights and edgy presence. The Si's rear spoiler and added performance add-ons dial up the boy racer charm just enough. For a sub-$26,000 car, the interior is quite nice, too. The seats have a firm grip to them, the materials don't look cheap and the extra red accents inside provide that extra dollop of sport appearance.

Initially, anyway, the Civic Si feels like a match. But I started to see compatibility issues as soon as I hopped in for a long drive. The clutch. My lord. It might as well apply for a position with Anonymous because it's so vague. Over nearly two months of driving the Si, never felt like I could get it quite right. The shifter's action is short and satisfying, but by Honda gearbox standards, it's not a peach.

Power comes on strong as soon as the turbo spools and the Si tells you it can be shockingly quick. That's fine and dandy, but perhaps I'm looking for a little more drama. The Si models of yore screamed and begged to wrung out to redline. Here, I quickly approach "uh-oh" territories of speed without batting an eye. All the while, I wrestled with rev hang and constantly reminded myself to give the accelerator a hardy blip to get a downshift just right.

I've owned a handful of "classic" Hondas by today's standards, and while I ultimately connected with the Si Coupe during our short time together, it didn't quite fill me with the same long-lasting butterflies. Still, I'll be said to see it go.