Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Long Term Test: 2020 Honda Civic Si Sedan post #2

In my first post about my 2020 Honda Civic Si, I mentioned that I had decided to do some modifications to it. Today, I'm here to talk about what I've done and why I did it. My original plan was to leave the car completely bone stock as this was meant to be my daily driver. The more I drove it and the more I looked at it though, I wanted to make some small changes to the car that would improve its looks and performance. And so, a hobby (and extreme money pit) that I thought I had left behind in college reared its head once again. Unlike my college days though, where I wanted to modify almost every aspect of my then 1997 Honda Accord LX, I decided to be much more subtle about it. Here's what I've done so far.

As mentioned in my first post, I wasn't exactly a big fan of the updated wheels on the 2020 Civic Si. I felt they were too busy and probably heavier than they should be. Lucky for me, through an available connection at work, I was able to get a set of brand new Vöxx Lumi wheels. The five "Y" spoke design resembles that of the Civic Type-R wheels, but in a much more tire friendly 18 inch size instead of the Type-R's 20 inch wheels wrapped with rubber bands. What makes these wheels even better is that they are approximately four pounds lighter than the factory wheels. Though it might not seem like much, the total 16 pound weight loss netted me a very, very small gas mileage gain (probably around 0.1 mpg). With the wheels installed, the car was already looking significantly better. As my car made the social media rounds though, one common comment was, "wheels look great, car needs to be lowered," or some variation of that comment. 

After mulling on it for nearly a month after installing the new wheels, I finally caved to social media pressure and decided to lower the car. I didn't take this decision lightly though. Since the Civic Si has adaptive dampers, I would need to find a lowering spring kit that worked with the adaptive dampers and wouldn't negatively affect the car in any way. After much research and a calls to various suspension component manufacturers, I settled on the Eibach Pro Kit lowering springs. Eibach had done extensive testing with the Civic Si prior to releasing the kit. Knowing that the kit was designed with the adaptive dampers in mind, this made me confident in my purchase and I had them installed. With the car lowered around an inch front and rear, the car now looks much better and much more aggressive. The best part is that the ride quality has not suffered at all, and I can happily report that the adaptive dampers still work just as well as the day I purchased the car. Unfortunately, any sort of long term testing will have to be put on hold. Two weeks after the install, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the shelter-in-place order to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve that was rapidly rising in California. As a result, the Civic has been sitting on my driveway for about a month now, with the only the occasional jaunt around the neighborhood to keep my sanity in check. Once the order is lifted and we can all move about somewhat normally again, I plan on taking the Civic out for a road trip to see how much the handling characteristics have changed.

More Power
Does the Civic Si need more power? Probably not. Even though the Si has not actually gained all that much power since the 8th generation, its torque has increased dramatically since then. Going from a naturally aspirated engine in the past two generations to a turbocharged engine meant a very significant torque increase. During the first few weeks of driving the car, I was admittedly intoxicated with the turbo torque. Freeway merging and passing is so much easier in this car, and Honda has done a very good job of keeping turbo lag to a minimum. Despite this, there was always that nagging feeling that the car had so much more potential with the factory components than what Honda was allowing. Of course, by this time, famed Honda ECU tuning company, Hondata, had already created an ECU flash for the 10th generation Civic Si. Curious at the Si's actual potential, I went ahead and purchased a Flashpro from Hondata. According to the Hondata website, the CARB legal tune increases performance by about 27 horsepower and 40 lb./ft. of torque. It also increases mid-range power delivery, allows for "full-throttle shifting" (being able to shift gears without releasing the gas pedal), and removes the speed limiter. All of these changes are made for the car's sport mode so that when driving in normal mode, gas mileage remains completely unaffected. Being the idiot that I am, I made this purchase about two weeks into the shelter-in-place order. I did end up receiving the Flashpro unit a week later, but with the looming threat of a hefty fine from law enforcement for being out when I'm not supposed to, I only managed to take the Civic out for a quick spin. Updating the car's factory tune was a breeze and took no more than 15 minutes. After taking the car out, my butt dyno confirmed that the extra power was for real and definitely serious. Turning VSA off, I was actually able to chirp the tires throughout all of first and most of second gear. While that was fun, I'm definitely not going to be doing it again any time soon. As things return to normal in the world, we'll see how much of a difference the Hondata tune has made in my car.

So the question remains whether or not I'm going to do anything else with this car. At this time, no. This is, after all, supposed to be my daily commuter car. I should be saving my funding for modifying and tuning the S2000, especially since I may have accidentally made the Si faster in a straight line. But as most of my fellow car enthusiasts know, once you start modifying a car, it's really hard to stop. Time will tell...

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