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VW Golf vs Honda Civic



  • Looks like someone at Honda was listening to me! :)

    Honda USA has brought back the Civic Si for the 1999 model year. It comes with a 160hp 1.6 DOHC VTEC engine. Other goodies include 15" rims and a really cool looking blue color. No MSRP yet, but it looks like the GTI has finally got some competition from Honda!!
  • rdamonrdamon Posts: 8
    Ok, please bear with me if these models are slightlyoff-topic.

    My mom has a Passat TDI (turbo-diesel) 1996. She gets real-life 55mpg (on Vee-dub's largest, heaviest model). Pretty cool.

    I own a '98 saturn SC2 5-speed with everything on it.

    I am thinking of trading in because I am convinced from what I've heard that only Honda (and I want a DX hatchback because I'm going to college after four years of waiting after high school...thank the Lord.) can match the quality I've gotten from my Saturn. I do not worship at the temple of GM, but my car has had *zero* problems, and I have been treated like absolute gold at each of the several Saturn dealerships I have gone to for routine service (kansas city, delaware, colorado springs, 2 in florida, 2 in tennessee).

    I really like drving my mom's But, hinestly, my gosh, that golf (I was just this close to getting a GTI-VR6 instead, but the dealer was being a real jerk...the same guy who sold mom hers, so I don't get it) is really heavy, and VERY solidly put together, okay (the doors "chunk" instead of "Clang" like the Hondas and my old Isuzu) but man, I could really feel the weight that thing was throwing around the highway. Not so the Civic Hatch I test drove two days ago. Responsive, yes, but light as a feather. though, oddly, a bit more prone to bit more prone to understeer than my Saturn. anyway. persoanl pferernce would make me go to the Honda. If the Golf GL is a laser-guided missile, the Civic DX hatch is a "fire-and-forget" self-guided rocket.

    thanks for your time,

  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Thanks Damon for a great comparison. It shows how the marketplace works - something for everyone. I like a "chunk" instead of a "clang" so there's a car for both of us! :-)

  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335

    Sadly, Honda has no Si model to tempt you. [:-( Carlady has her Golf and I have my Honda CRX. Talk about precision bombing...

    It will be time to get some new wheels in a few years and I honestly don't know of any car that can compare to my little Honda. Unless they DO bring out the Si coupe...

    Anyways, I'm pretty sure the Civic Hatch does not come in an EX model. Try the coupe in an EX; it's not that much sportier, but you do get more power.

    Don't worry too much about the understeer, you can partially fix that with wider tires. All FWD cars understeer at the limit. Actually I enjoy cars that don't have TOO much grip. It's a lot more fun living on the edge of the traction circle if you don't have to go 100 mph to get there.

  • Hey, Bruce.

    thanks, Man. You menioned wider tires. I found a site called The Wheel Rack, or some such. I got me learned up real good on the idea of "plus sizing." Now, I'm no "enthusiast" or modification fiend...I've never even changed my own oil....but this intrigues me. I was thinking that the two major mods I'd like to make...maybe down the road, are wider tires (maybe on bigger wheels?) and a performance exaust. This last so that I can increase milage, and maybe recover a few extra horses in case I get into a tricky traffic sitch. But heck, maybe for that kind of money, I should just get an LX or EX Civic sedan.

    Now, what is this Si model you mentioned? And will Honda re-introduce it?

  • Hey Carlady,

    Thanks for the input, I didn't buy a honda or a Volkswagen. I was on my way to the Honda dealer to buy a Honda, stopped at a Suzuki dealer to look at Esteems. I was not impressed. However.... they had several 98 Sidekicks at a big savings. So I bought a 98 Sidekick Sport JX, 5 speed, ac, power windows door locks, 4 door, am fm cassette,keyless entry, for $14000!!!!!!
    The sticker was $18348. the invoice was $16288.
    I was able to purchase for $2288 below invoice!

    WOO HOO !!!!!!!!!!!1
    Thanks for the input


    ps does anyone have a good source for auto accessories ie floor mats, bug deflectors etc?
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    I'm pleased you got a good deal on a car you like! That's the best we can hope for! Congratulations.

  • Just to add my two cents. I too am in the market for a new commuter car and have narrowed it down to the VW Golf and the Civic Hx. I put about 35K a year on my vehicles and need the reliability and the fuel economy. I have owned a '93' Civic Si and in 4 1/2 years I put 150K miles on it. I only had to replace the clutch. The brakes are another story, let me just say that Honda has to do some work on there rotors and brakes.

    Back to the issue at hand, I don't have any bad feeling about Honda and to tell you the truth I am leaning towads the Hx because it has the best fuel economy ( about 43mpg hw) and the better price. As far as drive goes, I haven't driven the VW yet but from what I have read above, it sounds like a fun car with great handling. I like the 10yr/100000 mi. powertrain warranty that VW is offering with there '99' vehicles, it is giving me the impression that they've come a long way with the reliability of there vehicles. I can get the extended warranty on the Honda and feel comfortable with the fact that I know from experience the car is reliable. To those VW lovers out there you tell a great story and it has made my decision harder, thanks. For those Honda owners I agree with almost everything said about reliability, but as an engineer I am compelled to say that any machine with moving parts can suffer any breakdown at any given time.

    I would like to get some information on repair history for both cars based on the number of vehicle in the field going 3 or 4 years back, does anyone know if this info is accessible?

    Overall it sounds like whatever way you go between these two cars you can't make a bad decision. I drive an F150 as well and I would commute in that if Ford could only find a way to get 35mpg+ out of the 4.6 litre V8 Triton. Well I can dream can't I...

    These conferences are great I used alot of the info from the pickup conference back when I bought my truck. This is invaluable feedback that most consumers don't get.

  • diciedicie Posts: 9
    Hi all,

    Well, I am exhausted. I have done all this research on Golfs and Civic Hatchbacks and I can't come to a decision. Maybe the test drive will sway me. I'm a sucker for good design and quality (as I am an industrial designer) but I desperately want a car that doesn't require constant repairs (I have a 91 Saab 900 that prefers to live at the shop). I don't want to fall a sucker for vanity again. I want something that works... and I hear that VWs are getting more reliable.

    One thing is... I cannot find the dealer invoice on the new 99 Golf. Every web site has the old 98 Golf info and the prices have changed a bit since A/C, cassette, side airbags are all standard. The MSRP on says $14900. Does anyone know the base invoice price? It is making dealing with the dealers difficult. One (via a web-dealing service) has sworn he will sell it at $50 above invoice... which HE says invoice is $13963. Doesn't it seem unlikely that the difference is less than a thousand dollars?

    And then there is a "Port Prep" fee at $25 (which sounds like bull**** dealer prep fees,which I have read that you should not be suckered into paying) and a $62 "customer choice concept fee". Has anyone ever heard of such a ridiculous sounding fee?

    Regarding Honda Civic Hatchbacks... I spoke to a dealer and was told that the dealer-installed A/C would be $1300! There's no way to check what the invoice is on this because it isn't listed like factory-installed options on other makes/models.

    any input (especially the invoice price $$$) would be much appreciated.

  • Hummm... Let me help VW a bit:
    I have a 35K miles 97 Gti (4 banger) A3 = 0 problems.
    Commute 5 days a week and at least 1 long travel (1k+ miles) every other month or so.
    IMHO A3’s have more personality than the current Civic: a German built in Mexico will always have more personality than Japanese made in the USA - if you know what I mean.
    This section is dedicated to those who pet or talk to their cars :>
    1) Studies have shown that small VW's will talk back to you. The larger ones will too - but it takes some time and a well-trained VW ear to understand what they say.
    2) You will be VERY sad when it's time to sell (or recycle) your VW. You won't really notice you traded-in your Honda for a new one after a few days have gone by.
    3) Sometimes you will wonder where your old VW might be - and how it is doing. Remember: you will have forgotten your Honda after a few days have gone by.
    3) Hondas just go [happily] to their new owner and forget about you. VW's might carry over some idiosyncrasies just to remind the new dude/dudette that he/she are not their first one.
    4) People will notice you are driving a VW. They won't notice you in a Honda unless you do something really stupid. This could be either good or bad - it depends on your profile.
    5) Hondas do not thrive in neglect as some ancient folklore says. Nor Toyotas do. VW’s definitely don’t - but if you feel like neglecting stuff just buy some Port wine. It’s cheaper.
    Back to the real world:
    If the Civics sold here in the US were the " hot" VTi sold everywhere else outside Fantasy Island I would have considered it strongly. I like Honda for they build very very very good stuff. Trust me - I have an 82 CB750F that runs strong - even though it belongs in a museum by 90's motorcycle standards - and learned to ride in two very sweet Hondas a '69 CB 50 and a CT 70. Oops – now I’m helping Honda. Better stop here.

    If you buy a 4 banger VW expect:
    1) Reasonable midrange and better ‘traffic torque’ then you will get with a 4-valve samurai screamer.
    2) VW's shift linkage reeeally shows you why it's called a linkage after all. I actually found that it works as it should if the temperature is well below freezing and the oil & joints in the transmission and linkage have turned into some sort of pasty grease :) Unfortunately after it heats it will go back to "high-mileage-broken-video-arcade joystick" mode. Enjoy it. It’s all part of that character.
    3) You will [sometimes] wish you had those extra 8 valves you had given up in order to make statement # 1 true. When you are pushing 85mph uphill at 8.000 feet and a samurai screamer appears in your rear view mirror either trade in for a VR6 and don't complain about $ or pull over to the right. Downshifting will only make you feel worse.
    4) The suspension is funky. It’s part of the character that many appreciate in their VW experience but do not know where it comes from. It follows the Teutonic concept of soft springs over hard dampers. Old design, cheap to build, sturdy …proven. It works for me and I have fun lifting the inside rear wheel in tight corners. It somehow compensates for those missing 8 valves, low-pressure turbo and AWD I gave up unintentionally. I’m getting off again. If you are into sophisticated unequal length arms and this kind of stuff go somewhere else. I’ve heard NSX’s, 969’s and Vettes are good at this.
    5) There is ALWAYS an after-market cure for most of the syndromes described above. I thought I would NEVER even consider such things but….

    The only 3 things I've done so far was replacing the headlights for Hella's e-code H-1 projector (low) and normal reflector H3 (high) Golf kit. I enjoy driving at night and original DOT pattern sucks when you are on the boondocks . It seems that the A4 is better in this department, specially the Gti/VR6 combo.
    A Neuspeed chip made things a little livelier in midrange - even though the guys in the samurai screamers everywhere have me [sometimes] convinced it’s just placebo effect.
    Original shoes are cheap stuff. Get some real rubber. I kept the original not-so-inspiring 14" wheels and just replaced the rubber with nicer stuff. Would have gone the extra size or two.. but then I would really need more beans to [mechanically] justify the investment. And I’m too old to compete for looks anyway.
    Last but not least: for those really scared about VW horror stories out there: I've had VW's in Brazil, made in Brazil, and can say that the stuff I get here is well put together. I will go for an A4 VR6 as soon as my brain’s left side convinces my right side. Or is it the other way around?

    PS: sorry ‘bout the lousy English. It’s not my main language.
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    For the latest on the 1999 Generation 4 VW Golf, join this discussion.

  • lucien2lucien2 Posts: 2,984
    I'm getting so wrapped up in all these topics I'm starting to lose track of them all...

    Anyway, as an incurable car buff who half hopes his '86 4Runner keels over so he can go car shopping again, I offer this:

    Honda has no 5 door hatch or compact wagon. Advantage: VW. For those of us with people and stuff to haul around, a 2 door Civic, coupe or hatch, won't cut it. May I also throw in the notion that the upcoming Ford Focus (16 valve 140hp), as a hatch or wagon, could offer a combination of sport and utility (hee hee) that neither VW or Honda (or anyone?) could match...1998 European Car of the Year!
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    Golf has been steadily gaining weight through the years while Civic HB has pretty much kept the same dimensions (so it seems to me). Mk4 Golf is now a quite a bit bigger car than the current Civic. Not that I think bigger is necessarily better, but while Civic has stayed the pinnacle of frugality, Golf/Jetta has gone substantially upscale. Jetta GLX is almost knocking on BMW 3-series' doors.

    A Civic going happily on a 1.6L engine, and a Golf IV underpowered with a 2.0L are just not a fair comparison.
  • lucien2lucien2 Posts: 2,984
    Yup, I think you hit the nail on the head. these two cars have grown too distant to be fairly compared. the Golf is bigger, heavier, and comes better equipped, and is therefore quite a bit more money. The civic HB steadfastly holds the line on price, but also on size, amenities, and uh..doors. Actually, the HB market is getting pretty wierd. The swift is smaller than the civic and a woeful performer, so it doesn't really rate as a direct competitor. No toyota HB at Nissan either...BMW 318ti closer to Golf in size but MUCH more expensive and more powerful. Methinks this whole comparison discussion might be fundamentally flawed.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    I agree. Hatchbacks lost favor among car buyers in the 90's along with pure sports cars and sporty 2 seater coupes. Most Japanese makes have abandoned these segments entirely. Didn't Honda quit Civic and Accord HB's for a while? I, of course, blame it all on the SUV :-)

    The surviving hatchbacks are evolving into two polarized markets. On one end: the El Cheapo Geo, excuse me, Chevrolet Metro microcars. The other: upscale 318ti and Golf IV Euro-mobiles.

    VW may deny it, but Golf IV GTI in reality has lost the sharp and raucous pocket-rocket dynamics of the original GTI. AS powerful as the VR6 is, it is now more of a luxo-sporty mini-stationwagon. Somehow I get the feeling VW is chasing ex-GTI drivers upscale. Fine by me, because the suspension mods I used to think is "firm yet not harsh" now feels more like "punishing but won't quite send me to the chiropractor". Bravo, VW.
  • lucien2lucien2 Posts: 2,984
    yes yes..
    I have a 1986 4Runner. Stripped down, bare bones, beat the hell out of it-practical. I wish they had stayed that way. As a car buff, I really hate the way these vehicles have moved upscale (leaving me unable to replace a truck I actually use as a truck) and robbed the marketplace of some great cars. I do think that the pendulum will swing back, though. We all realize that the Subaru boom has a lot to do with the fact that no one REALLY wanted the truck part- just the room and rugged image. I think the whole thing will evolve into a segment of super-wagons within 5 years or so. Especially if we get a correction in gas prices. My underpowered toyota 22RE 4 banger that is so "grossly underpowered" (as my mom describes it) will, at least, be on the road while those 14mpg monsters sit in driveways...
    As for the GTI, Ferry Piech made it quite clear he intends to take the entire VW line up market and slide Seat and Skoda in where VW used to reside- fat lot of good that does us in the U.S., though. The polarization you describe is worrisome. I hope the 2K Ford Focus is a catalyst for expansion in the affordabe and sporting compact segment. If u.s. buyers don't support that car, we'll have only ourselves to blame when the choice is a Civic available only in urban commuter guise (c'mon, honda! howabout an Si, for chrissake!?) and Golfs with so much "value added" standard features that a 4 door bases at 17k.
    If the 4runner chokes...Focus wagon, here I come!
  • ottooottoo Posts: 3
    I really want to buy a new Golf, but I'm finding they are in short supply in Northern California. The result is that most dealers are expecting to get full sticker or ever so slightly less ( God forbid you actually want to specify a color preference). I can get a Honda Civic for at least 1500.00 less, so naturally I'm looking in that direction. Anyone want to convince me otherwise? I can't wait 6 months until the supply situation changes, I need the car in 4 weeks at the latest.
  • Excuse me, Ottoo, can you tell me are the dealerships in No. Calif. saying they'll have enough Golfs to meet demand in six months? Do you know if that's the case in general in the U.S.?

    I'd like a Golf, too. But I'm out of the country until the fall. However, I'll need to buy as soon as I get back.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    If you really want to buy a Golf, why not wait a few months for the inventory structure to settle a bit? I have read a lot of complaints about VW in these forums. Not that I think VW has done no wrong. In fact, I think VWoA should have done something about dealers gouging New Beetle customers; that is just shameful.

    On the other hand, I also think Ferdinand Piech has performed nothing short of a miracle in turning VW&Audi around from the pitiful state they were in just a few years back. In terms of product quality, value and appeal, VW&Audi has once again become the market leader.

    Well, all this growing has got to cause some pain. Restructuring can't be completed overnight. When supply catches up with demand, and it will, prices will soften. I want to buy a Golf also, but I'll wait till the 2000 model year (1.8T hopefully). Right after a new major model introduction is just not the right time to buy for a value shopper. This applies to any car. But, if your lease is up or your old car is shedding parts as we speak, then well...

    Honda Civic is a nice car, and if it fits your target profile, by all means, go for it. But as I've said elsewhere in this forum, Golf and Civic have grown far enough apart through the year that about the only thing they have in common is that they are both hatchbacks.

    Good luck.
  • mkesslermkessler Posts: 1
    Yes hello otto, im currently trying to decide on to go for the VW Golf or the Honda Civic Hatchback. I realy like the new Golfs. The Civics just look ugly with the way the hatch is formed. But I know some about reliability with the Civic. So im wondering how these to match up on reliability and saftey. And if the Golf is worth its money. Thanks Later
  • ottooottoo Posts: 3
    I decided to pay a little more and wait for the Golf (hard to locate right now in the SF Bay area). The Civic is okay but kind of dull, I just can't get excited about it. If you are spending money for a new car (in any case quite a chunk of cash), I think that getting what you really want is worth the extra. Reliability with VW's is definitely an issue, but it really is a new company in a sense. I think VW is smart enough to know they are betting it all on getting back the N. American market, and cheaply made cars won't cut it. After driving a New Golf and checking it out closely, the workmanship on the interior and visible parts is excellent. I find it hard to believe that VW would put a low-quality engine, etc. in a well-designed car like this. The interior was really great, very German in style. The Civic interior looked like my mom's minivan....
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    It is just about official that VW will put the 1.8T in the 2000 Golf/Jetta either as an option or to replace the 2.0L. You might wanna wait just a little longer.
  • maggie9maggie9 Posts: 3
    I visited an auto show here in Germany over the weekend to check out the Golf IV. Looks good. But turning the back seat into a hatch was a lot more trouble than I'd like. One has got to yank off the rear headrests, an awkward procedure, at least in the 2 door, pull the back seats forward and off, and slide the front seats just about all the way forward to get a flat surface in the hatch. For me this hassle is a real drawback.

    The Audi A3 hatchback has the same problem.

    Mazda's 323 hatchback, on the other hand, still has the old simple solution to turning the car into a delivery vehicle. It takes one two- fingered hand, which could also be in a cast or sprained, and about 15 seconds to accomplish with no strain or stretching. Really too bad the 323 HB is no longer being marketed in the US (which is where I'm going to have to buy soon). My old 323 was a great car. Economical, practical, and completely reliable. Too bad I sold it.

    For some reason, though brands as odd as Lancia and as common as Ford were at the show, Honda didn't turn up. Does anybody have any idea what is involved in creating a flat surface in the hatch of the Honda hatchback?

  • lex28lex28 Posts: 5
    If i were to get a hatchback, I'd get the VW Golf. Honda has virtually abandoned the US hatchback market. The only serious producer to sell hatchbacks here is VW. But the Daewoo Lanos, I think the name of it is, is making an appearance for 99. It is true the rest of the world gets the good hatchbacks while the US get the skin and bones. Write your US congressperson that you want the US to stop using our military might to manipulate oil rich countries into lowering their prices for the US and gas prices will raise once again. Then the popularity of small and midsized cars will increase and the shores of the US will be awashed with hatchbacks.
  • volfyvolfy Posts: 274
    Uhhh... I don't think so, Tim.
  • bertbert Posts: 1
    Great comments on the reliability v. driveability issue. Put ABS into the mix and th VW comes out as the ABS Honda are hard to find. I read a 'research' sometime ago that said you will use your airbag an average of 1 per 7 to 10 years but you will use ABS once a year. So far with 5 years of ABS experience on a Minivan (I'M selling it and buying a Golf GLS) i have used ABS 3 or 4 times and no airbag uses (some close calls however)

    Since ABS is standard on the VW you avoid the salesman shuffle of "We only sell what we have" When ABS is not standard the salesman shuffle around and can never find or rarely find the ABS equipped car.

    It is better to avoid an accident (via ABS) than have one and "survive" with an airbag.

    Check with car and the mega dealers in LA. Since VW makes both a CA EPA certified car and a 49 state car, the Calif cars may be harder to find, I found some in Oregon but they are not Calif EPA certified but will, most likely pass the emmissions test (my 94 van passed although not CA EPA)

    If you buy in Oregon and register in Calif then the DMV charges you an extra $300 to register in Calif plus the "use tax" and car license tax.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,551
    It's just that the market for hatchbacks is a dying one, or it seems to be.

    They have their fans, to be sure, but they appeal to very few.
  • sftroublsftroubl Posts: 9
    Honda hatchbacks may be alive and well, but I've seen zero effort by Honda to advertise them in the last couple years. VW, on the other hand, sold more hatchbacks last year (Golfs and Beetles) than it has in at least a decade because it made the effort to A) design an appealing new model, B) advertise.
  • karchykarchy Posts: 2
    Does Honda make a 1999 hatchback and can I get it with automatic and air?
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 5,562
    Yes, Honda makes the Civic in hatchback form. It's available with automatic, and a/c is a dealer installed option.

    My opinion on the Civic HB vs. Golf:
    The new Golf/GTI is a really great car, but a Honda Civic hatchback way undercuts it on price. The GTI has standard equipment power locks, side airbags, and ABS, but there's a huge price difference. Also, the Civic hatchback gets 32 city/37 hwy with stick, whereas the Golf 2-dr 4-cyl gets 24/31. According to Car and Driver, the Civic HB "looks like a nerd's shoe". If you can afford to pay a few thousand dollars more for a safer, more fun economy car, the Golf is the way to go. But the Civic will probably have better reliability and cheaper maintenance.
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