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Honda Civic Si vs. VW GTI

sunilbsunilb Posts: 407
edited March 2014 in Honda
Any thoughts on this line-up? Granted, it's a little early too tell for the Si, but there are preliminary reports flowing in now (,, etc.).

GTI = 1.8T, 2 doors, 180hp/174 lb-ft, nice interior, 18 cu. ft of storage, 24/31 mpg, 17" wheels available, leather available (for those that care about that sort of thing), lots of standard equip.

Si = 2.0L, 2 doors, 160hp/130 lb-ft, ~2700lbs, [not sure on storage], ~ 24/31mpg, 15" wheels

The Si will probably have the edge in terms of out-of-the-box handling, shifting, and [possibly] reliability [but the 4yr/50K warranty by VW seems to offset any main concerns I might have], the VW has a proven engine that is used in a plethora of vehicles, nicer interior (based on Si pics I have seen), an armrest, and is probably less susceptible to theft (the last two are my own personal biases).


  • The GTI 1.8t is the better car by far. That 1.8t engine is a gem and develops most of it's hp/ torque at only 1950 rpm, it'll blow the doors off the Civic. The only weak area of th GTI is the soft suspension which VW has the cure for - Eibach sport springs. I made them part of the lease on my 2002 Reflex Silver GTI with 17's and luxury package. Don't have the springs on the car yet - on order for delivery in a week.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    First Drive: 2002 VW GTI 1.8T, by John DiPietro

    First Drive: 2002 Honda Civic Si, by Brent Romans.

    Hatchbacks / Station Wagons / Women's Auto Center Boards
  • diploiddiploid Posts: 2,286
    It's simply more powerful...
  • himilerhimiler Posts: 1,209
    and the Honda emerges victorious.
  • diploiddiploid Posts: 2,286
    And the VW wins, hand down. Looks are subjective, but I'm willing to bet more people will find the VW better looking than the Honda (exterior and interior).
  • The other day I drove both a 2001 1.8T and VR6 GTI. Always wanted a another GTI since my first 16V. I wish that they would bring back that old 16V because the new ones are horrible. I first drove the 1.8T and the steering was so vague and the suspension was so soft, it was really dissappointing. The VR6 was even worse, most likely because of the heavier front end. The VR6 is a fantastic engine-it deserves a better chassis. I think that the "Drivers Wanted" should go somewhere else
  • I think the Si will be very competive in this category and that has more to do with the disadvantges of the other cars more than any particular outstanding feature of the Si itself.
    I see the downsides of the VW as:

    poor reliability(actually it seems like the other two Mexican-made cars - the Focus and the new Sentra SE-R have also had their share of problems)

    reputation for bad dealer service - what is the point of a 10/100k warranty if you can't the the necessary work done?

    Softer suspension which will require upgrades, but not much can be done about the hefty(almost 3000lb.) curb weight

    I also don't think there will be any meaningful difference in acceleration times one production Sis are being made.

    Finally I think VW overemphasizes amentities. The edmund's reviews kept mentioning things like one touch powerdown windows. As a roll-up person I find this hardly worth mentioning even once.

    Still I going to test ride both before making a decision. I'll probably also test the SVT focus and the Spec V, but have pretty much already made up my mind that I won't be buying one of these.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    qote ggoldman9-poor reliability(actually it seems like the other two Mexican-made cars - the Focus and the new Sentra SE-R have also had their share of problems)

    reputation for bad dealer service - what is the point of a 10/100k warranty if you can't the the necessary work done? -end quote

    The Golf is not made in Mexico so why do you mention the "other two Mexican made cars? The Si is manufactured in UK and British cars have a terrible quality reputation, does this mean that the Si will have poor quality?, I would say no.

    The GTI has a 4yr/50K b-to-b warranty and 5yr/60K powertrain warranty, not a 10/100 as that was ended last year. VW has better warranty.

    diploid- The GTI comes in two models which are the 180HP GTI 1.8T and 201HP 4V VR6 for 2002. The 150HP 1.8T is no longer sold and will not be competing with buyers of the Honda Si. Let's compare apples to apples please.
  • The Civic offers more cool ad-ons and looks great with all those stickers all over it! Seriously, I believe the VW will outperform the Civic, but the Honda will be running after the VW is retired.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    quote claywaterfill-I believe the VW will outperform the Civic, but the Honda will be running after the VW is retired.-end

    Let me share with you the fact that early 80's VW's are still running strong and even the Beetles from the 60's and 70's are still prevalent and it is the Hondas that are already in the car crusher. VW has more minor issues than Honda but has a more robust engine and drivetrain design.

    It is a fact and not a theory that there are more older VW's on the road than older Hondas.
  • sunilbsunilb Posts: 407
    I've read more than one review so far (C&D, that has called the new Si "soul-less" due to linear nature of the engine (as opposed to the prev. generation VTEC kick) and the electrically-assisted steering. It's an interesting criticism of the engine, and it'll take a test-drive to refute it.

    The suspension on the Si will definitely be it's strong-point as compared to the GTI. But this could be rectified with aftermarket parts on the GTI.

    Outside of the reliability issue, the GTI seems to be a lot classier.

    Automobile mag just compared the SVT Focus, MP3, SE-R V Spec, GTI, and Si.... they picked the GTI over the Si, but the SVT as their top pick.
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    "it'll blow the doors off the Civic"

    I wouldn't count on it. The Civic giving up 20 HP but I would guess it's going to be significantly lighter than the portly 3000 lb GTI.

    And before some starts ragging about the torque difference, HP is a much more accurate indicator of acceleration potential, if you've only got peak numbers to look at.
  • I know Volkswagen has been around a long time and early Beetles are still on the road. VW is by far the best thing Hitler gave to the world and Ferdinand Porsche did a masterful job creating the Beetle. I like VWs very much and would love to buy a Jetta, but they are too small for my needs at their price level. That being said, the Civic's reliability numbers through sources like Consumer Reports (which reports the results of real owners, not subjective reviews) are better than the Golf's. The Civic was named Top Pick by people like Auto Week and Consumer Reports for a reason. I was not bad mouthing the GTI--I even admitted that it may be the better performer--I just think the Civic will run longer with fewer problems. That is why I would by the Civic.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    Take a look at the 970+ messages in the Honda Civic Problems topic in the Edmunds Maintenance section and then look at the less than 100 total for Golf/GTI problems posted by real owners with real problems. Consumer Reports is subjective when it involves reliability as the ratings are not based on actual repair records but owner opinions from surveys. And the Golf was recommended by Consumer Reports.

    The Civic Si is an unknown for reliability. It is built in UK and you would have to look at track record for the UK build Hondas in order to make a prediction.
  • judasjudas Posts: 217
    "Take a look at the 970+ messages in the Honda Civic Problems topic in the Edmunds Maintenance section and then look at the less than 100 total for Golf/GTI"

    What does that have to do with anything?
  • But that doesn't mean anything. You know full well that there are not 970 problems. There are problems then probaby 10 responses to the problem--along with another string of posts on a tangent. If that was the indicator, Kia is the brand we all should buy, because the last time I checked there were NO active problem threads. Do you believe NOBODY has had any problems out of their Kias? I think the Santa Fe is the only Hyundai product with a somewhat active problem thread--does that mean there are no Sonatas with problems? I know it's fun to point to "problems" threads because I point out the huge Sienna and Odyssey problem threads to their owners all the time. But that doesn't mean they are not good vans. Also, congrats to VW and their "Recommended" label with CR. Civic got top pick. It also got "Best pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One last time, I like the VW. I would just buy the Civic instead.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    GTI has standard 16" tires and Si has standard 15". Advantage GTI.

    GTI has 4yr/50k warranty and Si has 3yr/36k warranty. Advantage GTI.

    GTI has 180HP and Si has 160HP. Advantage GTI.

    GTI has choices of sunroof or not, leather or not, upgraded stereo, 5 speed automatic or 5 speed manual, heated seats, climatronic and rain sensing wipers, standard heated mirrors, and standard full size spare. Si has choices of color. Advantage GTI.

    GTI has the highest crash test ratings in it's class from NHTSA.
  • except for it's suspension, to soft and the rear setup is pretty crude. Although I believe the next Golf platform should have independent rear suspension correct? I'd be willing to guess that the Si, even on those smallish 15inch tires, will probably handle better than the GTi.
  • To me no car is just the way I want it so I always tweak them here and there to make them better. With all the aftermarket stuff available for both of these cars you can easily modify them to your personal needs.

    I got a killer deal on my GTI and decided not to get the leather and invest the approx $1k in upgrades instead. I really worked the dealer and got a little over $1k off and made them throw in the VW Eibach sport springs (without installation). My silver black cloth 2002 1.8t GTI has the luxury package (sunroof, monsoon) and 17" wheel package that have excellent Michelin Pilots on them for $400 (a deal and a half). It came through with the the new head unit so it has the indash CD.

    The suspension is soft from the factory, but easily fixed with aftermarket springs. The Eibach springs from VW are perfect, they lower the GTI about an inch and tighten up the suspension perfectly. All the floatiness is gone, nice controlled ride that's not rough at all - no need for aftermarket shocks - perfect. I also added a polished Neuspeed front upper stress bar ($106) hard to say what difference it made since the springs and stress bar went in on the same day.

    Now for the engine - the 1.8t is an absolute gem of an engine cheap and easy to upgrade. I had a modified 2000 Passat 1.8t that never gave me one problem outside of a broken floor mat clip. I easily modified that Passat to about 230 HP and did a bunch of other stuff to it. A friend kept bugging me to sell it to him and I finally did. I'm going a slightly different route with the GTI than the Passat.

    The GTI has a Neuspeed turbo air intake ( does not replace factory airbox, 7 hp gain) and downpipe (welds to the catalytic converter, another 7hp) and Neuspeed chip upgrade which gives it 210 hp and 235 lbs feet of torque. Also installed a K&N low restriction air filter in the factory air box. I'd guess my GTI has about 225 HP now - easily keeps up with a friends BMW 330i and handles really well. I'm keeping the factory exhaust - I did the Neuspeed exhaust on my Passat and got really tired of the added noise. A good aftermarket exhaust like the Neuspeed would add a few more HP to the GTI.

    Total cost of all the upgrades including installation is about $1200 not including the cost of the Eibach springs which were thrown in with the car purchase. My GTI with the upgrades has all the drivability of the standard 180 hp GTI - minimal turbo lag, very smooth, lots of low end grunt, just a lot more go - a lot more. I plan to use it in weekend autocross so I may add swaybars to it, I'll have to wait and see. I plan to take it to the track to see what it does in the quarter mile, just out of total curiosity - this thing flat out hauls a##.

    How much would it cost to do the same to the Civic? I'd bet a lot more. You'd spend more than $1,200 on aftermarket 17" wheels with the Pilots on them alone. I wouldn't want to think what you'd have to do to get 220+ HP out of it - and how would the drivability be???
  • msealsmseals Posts: 257
    I don't have a 2002 Civic Si, obviously since they haven't come out yet. I am particularly not a fan of the hatchback so I probably won't get one either. But I can tell you, that for the price you paid for your GTI + the $1200 in mods, I could get that same performance in my 2000 Si. You have to remember first, that the price out the door is significantly more. I paid $16500 for my Si new and I bought it in Jan of 2000. It has been two years not and the only mod I made so far was changing out those crappy Michelin XGT V4 tires with some Yokahama S306's. The difference is like night and day. I thought about adding a supercharger, I believe with a Vortech unit I could get close to the HP numbers you are but definitely not the torque (a big Honda downfall in my opinion). But as for driveability, it would still be there. I have driven several supercharged Si's and they all seemed to drive the same as mine, just more kick off the light and definitely more accelleration up to speed. To be honest, I have wanted a Jetta GE 1.8t for sometime and when VW stated that they were going to bump up the HP to 180 I was salavating. The truth right now is that VW reliablity is shodding at best. I am not getting that from message boards, or CR reports. I am getting if from the 6 people that I know who own Jettas that are 2000 or newer. Each one of them has had major problems, the largest being a guy who needed a new tranny and it took them two and a half months to do it. Actually they put two in, the second one went bad too, so I guess the third one is a charm. Another girl told me that she loved her Jetta, and would get another one, but it had been in the shop 5 times in the past 11 months. She was glad that she leased it though! I can't settle for that. The two VW dealers around here are crappy, they act like they don't need you and they leave you out on the curb once they get you in the car. Another lady I work with has had nothing but trouble from day one. Stating problems of electrical problems, door problems, engine problems and radio problems. And to boot, her head light went out and it cost her $60 bucks for the bulb! and I put it in for her so the dealer wouldn't charge her $30 for labor. That is ridiculous! To be fair here, I have had a horrible time at one of the Honda dealers here. The first time, I went, my wheel beering went bad (I believe my nephew used my car while I was out of town and hit a huge pothole). The dealer fixed it for free the same day and I had the car when I got out of work. The bad experience was at the other dealer that I went to where they were going to fix a paint chip that I got, but they were suppose to call me for an appointment. They never called. To me that is inexcuseable, they are into customer service, they should do anything in their power to make your experience enjoyable if not tolerable. I haven't heard anyone who can say that about VW in recent years. If VW can get reliability issues under control, they will have an incredible car that would be a bargain at their prices.

  • tommyp13tommyp13 Posts: 146
    I realize that $400 is a good price for a 17" set-up, but I'd also assume that they aren't the lightest rims out there. If you're going aftermarket for the Si, at least you can get lightweight rims (like TE-37s). Personally, I'd rather save the $400 and get rims that I really want. Besides, every rim option that I've seen for VWs isn't going to win any beauty prizes (or really any OEM rim from most makes).

    Jetta has gotten some very bad reliability ratings recently, though I really don't understand why it would be given worse grades than the GTI. I'm glad that VW has stepped up on increasing the warranty, but if they really wanted to impress me, they'd extend the warranty on the window regulators. It's the little things that fall apart on the GTIs, not the drivetrain. I think that the Si is going to hold up better in the longterm.

    And, I actually think that not having an auto option is an advantage for the Si. Leave slushboxes to the minivans.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I agree with what you say about rims. But most people like the looks of 17 inchers even if it might affect performance.

    But then, there may be lighter 17" wheels too (new ITR/CTR?), but they would cost a lot more.
  • tommyp13tommyp13 Posts: 146
    I don't know about this (I should know by Saturday, after the Philly auto show); are the Si's rims a 4 or 5 bolt pattern? I'd guess 4, and would hope that the new ITR and/or CTR rims would be 5. This would probably make it hard to swap, though I'm sure that you could swap over the hubs. Which would make it interesting for other swaps as well, such as the brakes, which should be bigger on the Type R's.

    The Frankenstein possibilities are pretty cool, which is something that the GTI doesn't have going for it, obviously.
  • as far as moparbad comment goes about "The Si is manufactured in UK". this is not true. hondas are made in one of three places depending on what the vin starts with....and your choices are....usa...japan and canada. however, because canadian si specs are completely different from the us and japan. sis are only coming out of one of the two. as far as what is going to be faster. same as last year....facts are facts...rolling off the lot the si will get to 60 before the gti. check the stats. the 2000 si was gettin there before this years gti. 7.1 in 2000. this year is not sure on exact since they seem to vary so far but it is guarenteed 6s. and well leave it at that and wont even touch on how the handling is worlds apart...
  • sunilbsunilb Posts: 407
    this isn't a serious issue, but all of the civic hatches (in this case, Si's) will be built in Swindon [England] and shipped to the US. The hatch shares no body panels with the over civics made at the NA plants, so it wouldn't make sense to put them on the same assembly line. Well that, and every article out there mentions that the Si is being produced in England.
  • the si wheels will still have the same 4 lug design.
  • who designs and assembles the engine is completely and in no way the same as who puts together the body..
  • there is no point in arguing honda reliability which is one of (if not the) most reliable line of cars on the road to vw how is one of the least reliable and carrying one of the worst reputations of anything on the road. sure read a problem board. every car in the world will have their share and their complaints and their boards. but compare country wide overall stats and now hes sitting on here and facts and facts.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    You owe me an apology pimpkwene, the Civic Si is manufactured in "Unlike the Civic coupe and sedan, which are manufactured in North America, the Civic Si comes exclusively from Honda's Swindon plant in England. The Civic Type-R, an even sportier version sold only in Japan and Europe, is also from this plant" yeah, thats right, England. I've been to the UK twice in past three years and I am familar with the cars there. Honda Civic reliability is recognized to be better than Golf/GTI but as much as I dislike Consumer Reports I think you should take a look at the rating given to Golf/GTI and you will find it recommended. Your statement about the problems listed on boards is ridiculous, there are ten times as many posts for Honda as there are for GTI and Golf, and that still does not prove anything as the Golf/GTI is recognized to have more problems than Honda. Worst reputation of anything on the road, LOL! As far as the reputation of the GTI you should read some of the early reviews on GTI vs. Si. The professionals who review vehicles as their occupation have been picking the GTI over the Si.
This discussion has been closed.