2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Review - Price Rains on the Performance Parade
2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Fast Facts
The Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring exists to fill a niche in the Civic lineup.
If the Civic Hatchback Sport presents as the value “sporty” choice – a sleeper version of the cranked-up Si and pumped-to-the-max Type R, complete with available manual – the Sport Touring aspires to be a more luxurious version of that car while retaining characteristics that make it an enthusiast’s choice. The crowd will be happy – you can get it with a stick.
It also is the nicest Civic hatch you can get with three pedals, and arguably the nicest Civic you can get in hatchback form, period – and very possibly Honda’s nod to Si intenders who bemoan that car’s lack of an available hatchback body style.
The car I sampled was saddled with a continuously variable automatic trans, so that was obviously a bummer for this three-pedal fan.
The problem with the Sport Touring (priced at almost $29K as tested) isn’t just that it’s the priciest Civic hatch you can buy, but it’s undercut by a better performance buy – the Si. Sure, you give up the hatchback bodystyle and some features to get an Si, most notably factory nav and leather seats, but for a few grand less you have a hotter car. And the Sport hatch is close to the Si, feature-wise, yet cheaper.
So the Sport hatch is clearly the value buy and/or the car for the Si buyer who really needs a hatch. Who, then, is the Sport Touring customer? The status-conscious shopper who’ll be embarrassed by a car with cloth seats and no factory nav? The one who needs hatchback utility and will be fine with a portion of Si performance for a few extra grand as a compromise?
Whoever he or she is, the car won’t be a letdown in terms of driving dynamics. This Civic is swift in traffic, emits fun four-cylinder sounds from the center-mounted dual exhaust tips, and has dialed-in, appropriately weighted steering that reminds you that Honda’s performance-oriented reputation is well-earned.
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You do pay a penalty in terms of ride – it’s definitely stiff. A bit jarringly so, given that this is still a commuter car at heart. A MacPherson strut setup underpins the front suspension, and the rear is a multi-link setup.
It’s also not exactly the quietest compact car out there. I mentioned the exhaust noise, but the N part of NVH is also a factor.
Speaking of hearts, a 1.5-liter turbocharged four making 180 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque (177 with the manual) resides under hood. While I’d prefer said manual, the CVT was inoffensive and there are paddle shifters for those who like to pretend.
Honda design, especially as pertains to the Civic lineup, remains polarizing, but I don’t hate the car’s angular looks. I do admit, though, that the front looks better than the rear – from the C-pillar back, the car looks like it got plowed into by a Mack and never fixed. An aero kit and spoiler does not help dispel the boy-racer vibe.
Inside, it’s the same story, with colors and fonts that resemble an old racing arcade game. There’s a volume knob now (rejoice!) but Honda fonts and gauge layouts remain a bit outdated and gaudy. The center-stack infotainment screen could be better integrated, too.
There’s good news here – the HVAC controls are simple and easy to use, and most other switchgear has a low learning curve, too. And the use of CarPlay/Android Auto will blot out the info screen. I also applaud Honda for not saddling the Civic with the odd push-button transmission shifter seen in the Accord and other products.
It’s not the prettiest interior, but it’s functional, and you’ll put up with it because the Civic Sport Touring is generally delightful to drive. And it’s fairly fuel-efficient, to boot, with a combined mpg of 32.
Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation, heated front seats, heated rear seats, leather seats, navigation, premium audio, Bluetooth, USB, Honda LaneWatch, satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch wheels, tilt/telescope steering column, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and starting, remote start, and a capless fuel filler. As is standard Honda practice, there are no options, save for the CVT (you can opt for pricier wheel designs and some accessories, but no factory options or packages).
The problem with the Sport Touring is simple, as I laid out above. Who’s the buyer? If you want/need a hatchback Civic that’s a joy to drive and/or you want to shift for yourself, and the if the Type R hatch is beyond your budget, the Sport offers almost all the comfort/convenience/safety features you’d want for six grand less. If you don’t need a hatch or an automatic trans, the hotter Si awaits for less money.
I don’t see the point in nav when you can get CarPlay or Android Auto. Leather will appeal to some, sure, and LaneWatch, which isn’t available on the Sport, is handy in the urban environs where I do most of my driving. And yeah, the Sport’s stereo isn’t as uplevel.
There’s a lot to like about this Civic, especially if the current gen’s exterior and interior styling don’t bother you. But not enough to serve as a viable alternative to other Civics in the lineup, not at this price.
[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC]
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