The Honda enthusiast scene has been around since the early 1990s, and maybe even before that. Over the past 30 years or so, anyone who has paid attention would have seen the evolution that the Honda scene has gone through; from big wings and body kits to making valiant efforts to blaze down the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds, Hondas have been through it all, specifically the Civic platform.
Often chosen by enthusiasts for its light weight, dependability, easiness to work on, the Civic has even been a gateway drug, of sorts, to the tuner seen. As luck would have it, Honda even listened to its enthusiasts and released the Civic Si in 2017, but only in coupe or sedan form. The regular Civic, however, was offered in a more practical hatchback body style but only offered with a manual transmission in the lower trim levels, until now.
Enter the 2020 Honda Civic Sport Touring, the highest-trim Civic hatchback in the current lineup that is now available with a manual transmission. Which makes us wonder: Could tuning a Honda Civic Sport Touring yield a better version of a Civic Si?
For 2020, the Honda Civic Sport Touring is available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic. We’ll focus on the stick shift for now. Luckily, when the Civic was revamped for the 2016 model year, the coupe and sedan trims came in a manual and aftermarket tuners, such as Hondata took notice. In case you didn’t know, Hondata is a tuning company that’s been around for well over a decade and provides programmable tuning software and ECU reflashes for older and newer model Hondas.
For the 2016-2020 Civics with the 1.5-liter engine, they offer their Flashpro tuning software, which enables an experienced tuner to extract more power out the Civic by changing air and fuel parameters, as well as other calibrations. According to their website, Hondata has been able to extract up to 232 horsepower and 241 lb-ft of torque from a standard 1.5-liter Civic. For reference, a stock Civic Sport Touring is rated at 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.
Better than an Si?
The 2020 Honda Civic Si is rated at 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, which is less than the Hondata-tuned Civic. Autoblog had a chance to drive a Hondata-tuned Civic Sport back in 2017 when Hondata release the Flashpro software for it. They noted that when driving it back-to-back with the Civic Si, the tuned Civic “definitely pulls harder when stomping on the throttle. The power is even a little overwhelming for the car if you get on the gas in the corner.” This shows that a tuned Civic Sport Touring could easily outperform a Civic Si, at least when it comes to power.
What’s the verdict?
Ultimately, tuning a Civic Sport Touring could yield better horsepower numbers and most likely better performance on the street. However, as some tuner cars have shown, finding the delicate balance between power, handling, comfort is tough to do, which is why manufacturers like Honda spend countless hours of research and development on their cars and parts.
Even Autoblog wrote that they wouldn’t go with the tuned Civic over the factory Civic Si because the Si proved to be a “better all-around performer” from the factory. To that, we say, enjoy the Civic Sport Touring for what it is if you decide to go that route. But if you want performance, even if you plan on modifying the car, go with the tried-and-true Civic Si.