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Test Drive: A Week With the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe

When a Civic Type R is too much for your daily reality, the Civic Si HPT is just enough.

Rory JurneckaWriter, Photographer

Don't get us wrong, we love the Honda Civic Type R. After all, not only did we name the Civic Type R a 2018 Automobile All-Star, but we also begged for our Four Seasons CTR to stay with us for a whole year rather than just the six months we scheduled originally. Our wish was granted, and we summed up that year-and-a-bit with two words: "bliss defined. " Even our resident hot shoe, race car driver Andy Pilgrim, loved his days spent in a borrowed Honda Civic Type R so much that he bought one for himself. But if you don't quite need all the might a Civic Type R offers-if you don't like its exaggerated styling, prefer coupes, or if the $35,000 price tag is a little steep—we've just spent a week test driving a car you might be interested in: the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe: What's the Deal?

You're likely somewhat familiar with the Civic's higher-output, sport-tuned "Si" designation, but what's that "HPT" all about? It stands for "High Performance Tire," and it's a $200 method of swapping the all-season tires a Civic Si usually comes with for the high-performance summer-tire option, in this case a set of four Goodyear Eagle F1s in 235/40 R-18 at all four corners, mounted on matte black 18-inch wheels. Holy asphalt sucking grip, Batman, we thought more than once during the course of our 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe test drive

Those meaty tires make a great package even better, and for 2020, Honda made several worthwhile improvements to the Civic Si. The front and rear bumpers are restyled slightly, and the LED headlights and front fog lights are new for the 2020 model year. The 18-inch wheels we already mentioned are also new, as are the high-bolstered, grippy cloth sport seats with red contrast stitching. And that's not to mention the Si trim level is pretty heavily equipped with features this year, including the full barrage of Honda Sensing safety tech, a sunroof, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, a limited-slip differential, and even heated seats and mirrors. Our tester certainly didn't leave us wanting for luxuries, and it didn't stray a single dollar from its $26,130 base price.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe: A Sporty Driver for the Street

We haven't even gotten to the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe's four-cylinder powerhouse: a turbocharged, 1.5-liter mill that kicks out 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. We had plenty of fun revving-out the little four-banger on our favorite backroads, all the way to its 6,500-rpm redline. Torque reaches its peak by just 2,100 rpm, and it remains there all the way to 5,000 rpm. This makes the Civic Si feel potent and peppy practically everywhere, while mandating fewer shifts from the slick six-speed manual gearbox.

You don't need a particularly long test drive to realize understeer is the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe's primary handling mode when you dive bomb it into a sweeper. But the chassis is playful, and it's happy to wag its rear slightly with some provocation, especially on tighter corners. Hit the Sport-mode button on the center console and the steering stiffens slightly, the adaptive suspension firms up, and the throttle mapping gets a bit more aggressive.

You also get an earful of Honda's active sound-control system which pipes treble-laden induction noises into the cabin, encouraging those redline shifts. Really, the only thing we didn't like about the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe's engine is the somewhat irritating way it "hangs" revs between high-rpm shifts, rather than allowing revs to drop mid-gearchange. It's both awkward in its noise and in its pick-up of the higher gear.

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe: Practical as a Daily Driver

Although the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe proved during our test that it has all of the sporting ability many drivers will want on the road, it remains a solid coupe for daily commutes as well. Clutch take-up is light, meaning rush hour traffic won't exhaust your left leg, and the interior is well packaged with an excellent driving position and smartly organized switchgear.

Upon getting into the Civic Si Coupe for the first time, you realize how long the passenger doors are. Strange at first, you soon realize they allow easy ingress and egress to the rear seat, which offers a fair amount of legroom but not nearly as much headroom with its sloping roof. If you think you'll carry adults any distance, best to check out the Civic Si sedan instead.

Altogether, the Civic Si makes a compelling case for itself, especially if you prefer a coupe that errs towards the side of comfort and luxury rather than pure sports-car aggression. Compared with something like the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ at a similar price, the Civic Si has a cabin that is far more pleasant to spend time in, with better integrated features, though the Toyota/Subaru is a sharper driver's car at the end of the day.

More than anything, our weeklong test drive of the 2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe proves that the Civic Type R isn't the only Civic in the lineup that likes to party. During our time behind the wheel, the Civic Si even made grocery-shopping runs something to look forward to, just to wind-out that engine one more time. When a car makes you feel like this, it's nothing to take for granted.

2020 Honda Civic Si HTP Hits

  • Sporty, quick, and fun to drive
  • Comfortable and well-equipped for daily driving
  • Smartly designed cabin

2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Misses

  • Exterior styling is still a bit immature and busy
  • Rear seat not practically habitable by adults
  • Hanging revs on upshifts will irritate enthusiasts
2020 Honda Civic Si HPT Coupe Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $26,130/$26,130 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/205 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 192 lb-ft @ 2,100-5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 26/36 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 177.3 x 70.9 x 54.7 in
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
WEIGHT 2,889 lb
0-60 MPH 6.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 120 mph (est)