Reflecting on my new toy: 2020 SI

ccccivic

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Debut post :)

After a long time looking for my next car, the 2020 Honda Civic SI sedan won the battle. So far, I'm extremely happy. On the shopping list was also a WRX, GLI, Mazda3 Sport GT, Mazda6 GT, Corolla Hatch, and a Tacoma just to pepper the battle with something way different. Honda's reliability and the LSD were key factors in winning out.

These are some of the key areas that I've developed thoughts about:

Looks: Way better in person than in photos or upon first impression. Sleek and eye-catching. The white paint is sparkly and beautiful. The spoiler is actually a perfect fit for the body. The angles on the hood fit the character of the SI better than any of the other (non-R) models. The 2020 rims are exceptional; one of the best refresh items on any vehicle ever in terms of improvement-margin. 8/10

Powertrain: Great, effortless power that's available pretty much instantly. It just pours itself out smoothly and you don't even realize how fast you're going all of the sudden. This is my first throttle-by-wire and I don't hate it at all like some do. Zero complaints. 10/10

Transmission: The shifter is lovely: short, notchy, and feels mechanical. It's doesn't slide into some of the gears some of the time as gracefully as my favourite manual-maker (Mazda), but it's super-fun to use. The clutch is all Honda - way too light and lacking feel; however, the WRX was also at the top of my list and is wrong in the opposite direction (too stiff and long with harsh angle, grab, and release points). Of the two directions to go, I prefer this one. You can certainly drive it forever in heavy traffic without any shift-fatigue and it's insanely forgiving. The shifter feels great in hand. 9/10

Comfort: One of the big surprises as I'm 6'4" and a little wider than my doctor would like. I didn't think it would be as comfortable as the GLI/GTI or the Mazda 6, but turns out that the seats are exceptionally comfy and there's way more room for me than I thought was there when I first sat in it. The bolstering is great. It is actually a crime that Honda doesn't put 10-way power adjustable seats in a trim level this high - that would increase the appeal of the SI by a factor of 10. Three dealerships in the city kept trying to tell me that Honda uses 6-way manual seats to save on weight and increase performance. That's hogwash nonsense. If it can carry me down the highway, it could carry a better class of seat quite unnoticeably. Mostly what I'm missing is that the seats need to tilt a bit to add support to my lower thighs better. But overall, I can still ride for a long time without ever becoming uncomfortable. 7/10

Infotainment: I'm coming from a very basic, very old AM/FM/CD system so it shouldn't take much to impress me. There's good and bad in the SI system. I've put 21 gigabytes of music onto a flashdrive and the simplicity of just having that immediately available is fantastic. Navigating what I want to play out of that collection is terrible. Maybe other modern systems are similarly deficient, but the lack of support for .m3u playlists or an easy way to select a folder out of the 1200 folders on the drive is extremely frustrating. "Play files randomly within this folder" and "play all files on the drive randomly" are wildly insufficient options. I should be able to select a folder and be able to shuffle through all the songs in all the folders below that ("rock," "blues," "holiday," etc.). Only 2 USB ports and those being 1.0A and 1.5A seems behind-the-times. Sound-wise, there's a good deal of power and getting volume is not an issue. It's pretty muffled though even with treble cranked right to the top. When I'm advertised a 10-speaker, 452-watt stereo system in a 2nd-from-the-top trim, it needs to be more audiophile than this. I don't need wild amounts of bass, but for something with a subwoofer I expect more. It inspires me to sing along so something about it is working, but overall it falls a bit short. I'm not sure if the navigation system counts as part of the infotainment system, but it's very frustrating. Getting it to accept a verbal address is completely impossible. It just doesn't understand addresses. I haven't really delved into Android Auto yet, but I'll get there and people tell me that'll make me feel better. 4/10.

Rev Hang: Appalling. Atrocious. Offensive. Horrendous. Kind of ruins the driving experience if you want to drive with any level of aggression. The only saving grace is that the transmission is so forgiving you can drag the engine down for the shift and it's not terribly jarring. Still, you should not have to do that on a performance model. I didn't imagine I would have any interest in a tune, but I'm going to have to find a way to eliminate this nonsense. Hopefully it's not too expensive to just change this one thing. 2/10

Interior: Well laid out and gobs of room, but very pedestrian materials. The seat fabric attracts and shows EVERYthing. The right armrest material is like burlap (and is not high enough to brace my arm where it should). When you look at the interior of the similarly-priced Mazda 3 Sport GT, the SI is completely shamed. I love the moonroof and with the wind deflector, it's completely usable at any speed. Lots of people seem to dislike the buttons on the steering wheel, but I don't find myself bothered by them. The digital dash is okay, but not my cup of tea. I prefer analogue and two gauges for RPM and speed. 6/10

Handling: Great. I all-at-once love and dislike the electric steering (which I've never owned before). It's very firm which I like and the car responds to hard turning rapidly and precisely. But boy, there is NO feedback like I'm used to with hydraulic systems. I will be very interested to see how I feel about it in deep-snow winter where feedback and feel aren't just nice, they're essential to surviving. The LSD is amazing and I LOVE pushing the SI through corners; that single feature is probably what most led me to choose the SI. What a great car to drive on twisty roads. You don't really even feel like you're cornering hard and fast because of how smooth the SI darts around. 8/10

Lights: I've never owned LED before. Wow, that is a drastic difference for the better. The automatic system works way better than I imagined it would, turning the brights on and off at completely appropriate times. It's a bit bizarre to me that you can't turn the lights off, but I guess that's how the car universe works in 2020. It's a bit sensitive so when I drive under a particularly wide bridge on my route to work, my lights are popping on even though it's plenty bright and the middle of the day. I love the taillights. I'm hoping that LEDs live longer than the 20 years I plan to own the car, but time will tell. 9/10

Safety Features: Reviews complain that Honda is too aggressive, but I've found all the safety systems very non-intrusive. I've never been much for signalling, so I've ended up fighting the lane-keeping when drifting from lane-to-lane on the highway, but that's a habit I should probably change. The adaptive cruise seems to work really well and is a very welcome evolution to traditional cruise control. The Honda Lanewatch is a bit bizarre and may be more distracting than it is helpful - still deciding. The lack of rear cross-traffic detection and blind spot monitoring is a noticeable shortcoming compared to the SI's rivals. 6/10

Visibility: Okay looking forward, not great looking behind. This is an epidemic in the auto industry these days and I just don't get it. Who doesn't prefer to be able to see out of their vehicle? The side mirrors convey a broad scope and help, but the rear-quarter blind spots are bad. Thank goodness they put those little peep-windows in the corner as that's the only help with knowing what's around you. I've heard reviewers say that the rear window visibility is good... I can only imagine they're comparing it to a Brinks armoured truck. Subaru has Honda beat to death in this area. The rear camera is decent and the guidelines are accurate, but that's no way to navigate a vehicle. The Mazda 3 Sport GT was on my list and that's the worst example of disastrous visibility on the market so the SI seems pretty good by comparison, but if I were designing things there'd be a lot more to see. 6/10

All-in-all, this is a fun car that immediately puts a smile on my face. I anticipate that Honda reliability will allow me to remain happy for many years to come. If anyone has any thoughts about how best to easily address any of my gripes (*cough* rev hang *cough), I'd love to hear!



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OneMiggle

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Welcome to the club! Also, I believe you made it a post on Reddit that reads exactly like this one. It's just funny to have come across it. Ahaha

The only way you'll be able to get rid of the rev-hang is to get a tune that tries to eliminate it. Go get a Ktuner or a Hondata! And once again, welcome!

Edited to remove error.
 
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ccccivic

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Welcome to the club!
Thanks... happy to be a part of it! Maybe a little happier with every drive even :)

Anyway, just wanted to point out that the car is not, in fact, throttle-by-wire. You mentioned that you hate the rev-hang which is actually only possible if the throttle was electronic.
Throttle-by-wire is an electronic throttle; that's its definition. The SI is a throttle-by-wire system.
 

JT Si

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Rev Hang
I was not a fan of the rev hang disable in Ktuner. It just didn't feel right.

With an aftermarket clutch and much lighter flywheel, I don't need the rev hang disable at all.

Rev hang on, lighter flywheel -> better feeling, faster rev drop

Rev hang disable, OEM flywheel -> feels off, slower rev drop

Now obviously a clutch replacement isn't for everyone. If you do get a Ktuner you may, at some point, end up needing it. It was well worth it, IMO.

The clutch/flywheel replacement also significantly improves the clutch pedal feel and engagement point, it removes all the vagueness and slop that comes from the sprung dual mass flywheel. Honda really dropped the ball by not offering a more sporty single-mass flywheel on the Si.

Interior
As for the arm rests, you can order leather trim model pieces and swap them out. I ordered the door armrests in leather and I will be swapping them out at some point, when I feel like taking off the door cards. You can also buy leather kits on eBay and either re-wrap them in leather yourself or have an upholstery shop do it. From the threads I've seen where people had shops do it it seems like it didn't cost more than $30-50 in labor, so very reasonably priced.

Sound System
Android auto will allow you to use multiple Android music playing apps instead of the head unit's MP3 player. Whether that will work for you or not will be something for you to experiment with.

With a little tweaking of the head unit's very basic sound settings you can make the subwoofer somewhat useful. There was some guide for installing viper4android to better equalize the head unit and fix some of the odd equalization discrepancies the factory DSP introduces. I have not yet looked into doing it myself but it's on the todo list. It requires Honda Hack, unfortuantely, so unless you're willing to do that it's kind of a moot point.

I find after breaking in the entire sound system and a lot of listening, the worst part is the front door tweeters. There have been numerous people that have simply dropped in aftermarket tweeters to great reported success. I ordered a set of Alpine S-S10TW tweeters I will be dropping in this weekend and maybe trying to install the viper4android equalizer as well.
 
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VarmintCong

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My Sport hatch has a lot of steering feel, imo - I do have 17 lb OZ wheels on it, I think that helps. I think steering feel is hard to characterize, but I'm coming from older BMWs and my favorite thing about the Civic was the steering which reminds me a bit of the BMWs. In the snow you can feel the tires slipping, which can be disconcerting at times - my BMWs were the same way, just more steering feel.
 

BeeRand0

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I actually just purchased a 2020 Si in white also. The body of the coupe was more appealing to me though. With the higher spoiler and the body lines on the bottom of the doors and extending from the back of the front wheels. After just spending the past 2 days with with it going from a 2008 Si. The creature comforts of the 2020 model are what swayed me to buy new.

Good luck with your new toy. I know I am enjoying mine.
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