Review: 2020 Honda Civic Si sedan – updated, it’s the best Si ever

I spend way too much time in the 1990s around sporty Hondas. Then, at the end of that decade things have changed at Honda, and not for the better. Enthusiasts like me were dropped in favor of lower production costs and mass marketing. It has been twenty years but I am happy to report that the updated 2020 Civic Si may be the first Honda product since the 1990s that I really like*. It’s quick, fun, and functional. This means that it’s everything the Civic Si has been over the years. Except it’s now better than ever.

The K24-powered Civic Si of yesteryear were fine but to me they were missing some engagement. The Si just felt like a faster Civic. The K24 was a phenomenal engine but in the ninth-generation Si it just wasn’t doing it for me. But this tenth generation Si, with the L15B7 VTC Turbo engine, has a much different character.

* Civic Type R and NSX aside, as I have not driven them

2020 honda civic si rear side red

The turbocharged engine and a diet

The peak power is pretty much unchanged, at 205-horsepower. But that peak power does come in earlier, at 5,700 RPM, versus 7,000 RPM in the K24. The big difference is in the peak torque, which has increased by 18 lb-ft. to 192 lb-ft at 2,100 RPM versus 4,400 RPM for the old K24. What does go down is maximum engine speed, with the redline dropping from 7000 RPM on the K24 to an un-Honda-like 6500 RPM in the new motor.

Adding further to driving engagement is the fact that both Si models went on a diet. Civic Si Sedan weights in at 2,906 pounds, 96 pounds down from the previous model, while the Si Coupe comes in at 2,889 pounds, a 113 pounds loss. These are small numbers but this is also a small car. The chassis is also better tuned for performance, with great steering response.

Manual transmission and LSD

Six-speed manual transmission is the only choice in the Si. For 2020 it gets a shorter final-drive ratio for more responsive acceleration. At the same time, it’s slightly busier at highway cruising speeds. The stick is typical Honda; short and direct, and still one of the best on the market. The clutch pedal is soft, making is easy to drive around in heavier traffic. While I love this transmission, a modern DCT should be offered as an option here and on the Type R.

Because of the shorter final drive ratio, the fuel economy drops from 28/38/32 MPG city/highway/combined of the 2017-2019 models, to 26/36/30 MPG for the 2020 model year. This is a worthy sacrifice in my opinion. All numbers are significantly improved over the previous generation Si with the K24 motor which got 22/31/25 MPG city/highway/combined. It is important to note that the Civic Si has a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Same but better

On the road, the Si feels peppy. It quick and extremely enjoyable at lower speeds, say up to 40MPH, if that makes sense. At highway speeds, it seems to run out of breath, so don’t go around racing fast cars, such as a Mazda CX-5 Turbo. In a way, this is reminiscent of the ’99-’00 Civic Si. It was a fantastic autocross car but fell a little short as a big track performer. But the Si has never been about power and speed. Thankfully, we now have the Civic Type R for that.

Other than that, the Civic Si remains as functional as ever. Like all cars, the Civic has grown in size over the years. It is now a good-size, comfortable sedan. It still has a large trunk and the rear seats fold flat for transport of larger objects. I personally do not love its looks, which could be more aggressive. I think the random chrome trim has no place on the Si, the rear spoiler seems like an afterthought and it probably does not serve a major function.

I am really glad the Honda is finally paying attention to enthusiasts again. The updated Civic Si makes a great sporty car better. It’s been a long time, but I’m finally excited about a sporty Honda. It’s everything the Civic Si has always been: quick, fun, efficient, and functional. And with a starting price of $25,000, it still remains a great value. Except now, it’s better than ever.


Disclaimer: Honda provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2020.

12 Comments

  1. “a modern DCT should be offered as an option here and on the Type R.”

    I disagree. I suspect that there’s only budget to certify one powertrain combo and adding a CVT DCT would probably kill the stick. I like that Honda has remained steadfast in its commitment to the manual on the Si. I wish it had on the NSX and the other Acura performance models.

    I prefer the Si in the less practical but better looking coupe. I wish it was a hatchback.

    https://goudyhonda.com/media/models/258/2019-Honda-Civic-Si-Coupe-Gallery-7.jpg

  2. Still wondering why it needed to be absolutely f*cking HIDEOUS. Designed by a crack team of muppets on crack

  3. Did you have have any experience with the 8th gen Civic? I had a normal spec one for a couple years, and loved it. At least comparing to normal 9th gens, the 8th is the better car, but I don’t know if that applies to the Si as well.

    Still, as much as it’s not pretty, it’s not horrendously overdone like the Type R, and seems to be decent value. If the issues with the 1.5T get sorted out, it’d be a great daily.

    1. My neighbor has a 2015 (9th-gen) Si sedan, and loves it. I certainly like the styling on it more than this 10th-generation car.

    2. Yes. Drove several different ones and didn’t love any of them. The Si was just a faster Civic… they did nothing for me and there were more interesting or better cars out there for the money.

  4. Agree. The Si isn’t as heinous as the Type R, but it’s still ugly. It looks like the black grille is the only one available now? Did they do away with chrome for 2020? I think I’d prefer the upper part of the grille to be body color– I think the black trim only looks good on white cars.

  5. I’ve got the same car in 9th gen guise. Year after year these 10th gens inspire me… to keep a thick coat of wax on my current car, because the 2.4 will prove to be a lot more durable than the 1.5 turbo with GDI. Also, ugly, butt ugly.

      1. I’d like to try any of them swapped into an Austin Mini. The Atom looks like a blast though.

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