Silvio Calabi: Opinionated at Any Speed

The 2020 Honda Civic Si: It’s just a little thing, but....

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 7:45pm

 To anyone who enjoys cars, the Si—the sporting Honda Civic—strikes the right balance between old-fashioned, involved, three-pedal driving and creeping digitalis, the blight of beeps, chimes, LEDs and prompts meant to protect us.

The Si’s safety systems in no way intrude on its dynamic integrity and fun. Electronics mess up only the throttle response, which would be quicker if there were an actual wire connecting the pedal to the gas—which in turn would make heel-and-toe downshifting possible. Otherwise, rowing a stick through a 6-speed gearbox like this one by hand is more satisfying (if slower and less efficient) than paddle-shifting an automatic transmission.

With 205 HP and nearly as much torque, the turbo Four (just 1.5 liters!) produces enough front-wheel torque steer to remind us again that driving is participatory, not passive. And finally, the cabin is spacious, comfortable and, again, driver-friendly. Brilliant.

—Silvio Calabi