Is the 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback Still Good Enough?
The younger Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra GT, & Toyota Corolla are making things tough for old faithful.
In Canada, hatchbacks are still some of the most popular types of cars on the roads. The Honda Civic Hatchback has been one of the best sellers in this segment for a very long time. But with bigger competition from the Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra GT, and the Toyota Corolla Hatchback, can the Honda Civic Hatchback still hold on to its crown?
Engine – This Sport trim of the Honda Civic Hatchback receives the same 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is found on the higher trims of the Civic sedan. But in the Sport trim, this engine produces 6 more horsepower for 180 hp and 10 more lb-ft of torque for 177 lb-ft in total. However, to produce this added bump in power, this engine requires premium fuel instead of regular fuel. Despite that though, the Civic Sport can still achieve a fuel economy rating of 6.6 L/100km (35.6 mpg) on a highway and 8.0 L/100km (29.4 mpg) in a city. During my time with the car, I averaged 7 L/100km (33.6 mpg).
As for the engine itself, it provides peak torque at a low 1,700 rpms and is sustained through to 5,500 rpms. This is why behind the steering wheel it feels like the Civic Sport has a much larger engine. It feels punchy off the line and the rpms don’t need to climb very much when you need to overtake someone at higher speeds. One odd quirk that surprised me is that there is no “Sport” mode button in a car with the name Sport in it. It has an Eco mode but no Sport mode.
Transmission – The 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback is one of the last remaining cars to still be available with a manual transmission. But this particular demo vehicle came equipped with, what is the more popular transmission of choice, a CVT automatic. If you know how to drive a manual transmission, go for that. The CVT doesn’t offer as much driving pleasure as the manual transmission does but at least it’s good at what it’s supposed to do.
Braking – The brake pedal is firm but still easy to modulate for smooth stops. In emergency situations, the car nose dives quite a bit but it stays straight and true. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature on the 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback.
Handling – As the name implies, this Sport trim of the Honda Civic is relatively sporty when the roads get twisty. Steering feel is a little lackluster but it is direct and responds quickly to the smallest of inputs from the driver. The Honda Civic Sport is not quite on par with the Mazda 3 in terms of handling dynamics but it is above average in this class.
Ride Comfort – The suspension is finely balanced between providing an enjoyable, sporty driving experience as well as a comfortable daily commute through a busy city. Over road undulations, the suspension can feel a little on the floaty side but large impacts from potholes are well insulated from the cabin.
Interior Space – The Honda Civic Hatchback has a low roof line compared to its competitors so taller occupants may feel their hair brushing against the headliner. But the Civic Hatch offers more front and rear legroom than other hatchbacks in this class. As well, it has one of the biggest trunks with 728 L (25.7 cu-ft) of cargo volume behind the rear seats and 1,308 L (46.2 cu-ft) of cargo volume with those rear seats folded.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback can get a bit noisy when driving on a highway. A little bit of road noise gets mixed into the cabin with quite a lot of wind noise. It’s not deafening but the Mazda 3 Sport does a better job of isolating the occupants from the exterior elements.
On a positive note, the central mounted, dual tip exhaust makes a pretty decent noise. Unfortunately you have to be standing directly behind it in order to hear it.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The Honda Civic still utilizes the infotainment system that has been around since this current generation of the Civic was introduced. The newest Honda infotainment system that is found in the Honda Accord is more responsive and esthetically pleasing to look at. However, the infotainment system in this Civic Sport still works well and Honda has updated the interface a bit. There is a volume knob and the quick access menu along the side of the screen consists of physical buttons now instead of just being touch sensitive controls. The graphics of the infotainment look dated but Apple CarPlay & Android Auto are standard so you have the option to look at Google Maps instead of the native navigation system provided by Honda.
The 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback starts at $24,190 CAD ($22,000 USD) for the LX trim while this Sport Touring trim is the better part of $32,600 CAD ($28,400 USD). At this price, it comes with just about every feature one would ever need from a compact hatchback like this. However, the only thing that is missing is a proper blind spot warning system. The Lane Watch system is just a camera that gets activated when the right turn signal is on. It doesn’t beep or provide any sort of warning if there is a vehicle or cyclist in your blind zone even with the right turn signal activated. And of course, it’s only on the right side of the car, not the left.
Interior Design – The interior of the Civic Sport remains relatively unchanged from its introduction in 2016. The instrument cluster has a 1980’s retro vibe with the water temperature and fuel level gauges. In between them is a TFT display that displays the tachometer, speedometer, vehicle and infotainment information. The infotainment screen is a 7-inch display but it’s enough for everyday needs. There is a fairly sizable spot under the center console to store small items as well there is a spot for your smartphone just in front of the gear selector. On the Sport Touring trim, this is where the wireless charging pad is. Just don’t let a police officer see it as having your smartphone within reach is considered a dangerous activity while driving in some areas of the world.
Exterior Design – The 2020 model year sees a few subtle changes in the exterior design. The large black openings in the front and rear bumpers now have small L-shaped pieces to break up the big black holes. It’s hard to tell on a black car but those L-shapes are matched with the body colour. The rear of the Civic Sport has arguably the most aggressive design with not one, but two spoilers, a faux diffuser, and the aforementioned dual tip center exhaust. Just like the Civic Type-R, the Civic Sport may seem childish in the way it looks to some.
In all the 2020 Honda Civic Sport Hatchback is one of the more spacious hatchbacks on the market and has a good blend of driving dynamics with everyday comfort. Whether you need every single gadget of the almost $33,000 CAD ($28,150 USD) Sport Touring trim is up to you and your budget but the mid Sport trim with a manual transmission is the one that I would recommend.