Coupe Grudge Match: Honda Civic Si HFP vs. Kia Koup SX

Entry-level sporty coupes are very important for manufacturers because they attract younger buyers. The manufacturer hopes that this will get the customer hooked onto their products which will result in more sales down the road.
The most popular entry-level coupe for the longest time has been the Honda Civic coupe, but in recent years it has lost some of its customers to the Kia Forte Koup.
So which is best?
To find out, I spent a few days with the top of the line version of each of these. Yes, the most expensive version of the cheapest coupes might sound like an oxymoron, but read on, this will be insightful.
So what I got to play with was the Honda Civic Si HFP and the Kia Forte Koup SX. Both cars have 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engines, both sent power to the front wheels, and both had 6-speed manual gearboxes. However, while the Civic Si is only available with the manual gearbox, the Koup can be had with an optional 6-speed automatic. So if you can’t drive stick, you will automatically cross the top version of the Civic off your list. So advantage Kia here.
However, while the 2.4-liter motor in the Koup produces 173-hp, the same displacement motor in the Si HFP produces 201-hp. So advantage Honda here. The Honda has a torque advantage also as it produces 170-lb/ft of it, compared to the Kia’s 168-lb/ft.
Not only does the Si HFP seem faster on paper, but on the road translates that into actual speed too. While the Koup SX is no slouch and felt potent through most road scenarios, the Si HFP just felt a lot quicker and much more aggressive, plus it sounded a lot better, especially when its VTEC (variable-valve timing system) motor is fully wound up. You can have a lot of fun with both these cars, but more so in the Si HFP.
It is the same story on twisty roads, both handle well, but the Si HFP just felt more planted and secure through faster sweeping corners. The reason for it is in the last three letters of its name, HFP, which stands for Honda Factory Performance. This is the new in-house tuning arm of Honda, where they take their current production cars and tweak them to make them perform a little bit better. The first time an HFP badge found its way on a car was last year with the Accord coupe, but now the younger sibling gets it to.
What HFP adds to the regular Civic Si is 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance tires, a beefed up suspension package, underbody spoilers for the front, side and rear, some HFP badging on the exterior and HFP floor mats on the inside. All this adds to make this Si stand out from the crowd.
Kia offers similar enhancements for the Koup, but they have to be purchased separately from their parts department. Honda allows you to walk into a Canadian dealership and buy the done up car right off the showroom floor. More advantage for Honda.
As for which looks best, you have to decide that on your own. I think they both look just as good. However, the interior of the Koup was slightly nicer, while on space both cars feel about the same.
My biggest complaint about the Civic is that its quality of plastics look and feel cheaper, so Honda needs to step up in this area.
My biggest complaint about the Koup was with its hydraulic clutch. It lacks feel and is thus very easy to stall this car. I managed to stall it four-times in five days, which is especially bad since I hadn’t stalled a car in years. So the Koup takes a bit more getting used to.
Now we come to the price. The Koup SX with the Luxury package and 6-speed manual is yours from $24,695. The Civic Si HFP starts at $28,690. So the Kia is cheaper, but when you go to their parts department to add spoilers and beefier springs, both end up costing about the same.
These cars are so equal, I even averaged the same fuel-economy numbers of 8.5-liters/100km on a city and highway driving mix, over a five-day period.
To be honest, I liked both cars and if I had to live with one for the rest of the year, I’d be fine with either car.
If I was spending my own money, I’d let you guess which one I’d pick.

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