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Honda Civic Si vs. VW GTI



  • The GTI is awesome! My friend has a 2001 GTI 1.8T and its pretty fast.
    Can we please get Neons and the Focus out of this conversation. I don't see how they can compare to a GTI!
  • Did you drive the Si? I love the shifter in it.
  • Hi all,
    For those who interested in buying a Si or GTI, please re-think your position of which one to get. Because the Honda Si are on BIG discount at $16,000. It only FYI.
  • I'm not really a huge fan of VTEC anyway since the large majority of their high-powered engines i.e. the S2000 and the older Si's are not powerful until you get them over 6500 RPM. I prefer to have usable power and that's what I get in my '02 GTI 1.8T. The newer Si engine has as much HP as before, it does make more low-end torque, though the GTI will still beat it when it comes to torque. The styling of the new Si's is also horrid. To me they look like squashed minivans, especially since the windshield and the hood are nearly at the same angle. If I had to buy an Si, it would have been a 2000 model since I think those were the better looking version. But, I'd still be able to beat it quite handidly with my GTI.
  • Try talking chipped GTI 1.8t - I APR'd my 02 plus a couple other little tweaks for 235 lb ft of torque and 220 or so HP - Shweeeeet!

    I think the Si is a huge dud - I've seen one new Si in a parking lot, none on the street. The Honda dealer isn't deeply discounting them for nothing. Honda should have gone a little retro style, back to the late 80's Si's - those still look kinda nice. I do have to get out and test drive one just for grins.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    First I must say that I am a biased VW owner. I drove a Si for a day and it was really fun. At $19K for the Honda the GTI wins hands down. At $16 to $16,5K that the Si's are selling for in my area the Si is the one that would get my money. I loved the shifter design and the seating was very, very comfortable. Recaro comfortable. The size of the rubber is uninspiring but the handling is good, throw a set of 17's on it and it would be all good. The styling is nothing special but then the GTI has shoebox styling so neither of them is a work of art. You have to keep the revs up to keep the power going and it is fun with the shifter on the dash.
  • The stock GTI handles like a pig if you don't modify it. I don't think it would be much more fun to drive than the Si unless you are stoplight racing. Of course, the ability to up the boost on the turbo is another story. (cue rickrover)

    The Si isn't worth $19k, but I also don't think I would buy a GTI if I wasn't going to take it aftermarket.
  • I bought mine with the intention of modifying it. A friend of mine bought a 2003 GTI 1.8t last weekend and promptly left town for a couple of weeks. He left it at my house with instructions for me to break it in. It is interesting to drive the two back to back handling-wise. Mine has a very aggressive suspension under it - racing springs with a 2" drop, bilstein sport shocks, Neuspeed upper front stress bar and 25mm rear sway bar. It handles like a go cart, very neutral and extremely tight. I think the ride is perfect still very tolorable although most people would hate it. I still have the 17" Michelin Pilot Sport's on it that it came with - these are the all season sports so not the greatest grip but I'm doing my best to wear them out :-) so I can put some Toyo Proxis T1's on it. I take my GTI on the track and also like to AutoX it, that's what I set the suspension up for. When I did it I thought I'd use the GTI for a weekend car because the ride would be too punishing for day in day out driving/ commuting. To my suprise that wasn't the case at all, I bought an X5 about a month before the GTI last year to use as a daily driver. The X has just hit 5k miles and the GTI is pushing 12k miles after a year. The only time I drive the X is when I have clients or passengers - the GTI's back seat has been out of it for 6 months now - the dogs love it. I consider it my high performance mini-minivan.

    That said the stock GTI isn't that bad a handler, it's obvious that VW tuned it for cruising, but it's handling is totally acceptable for most people. If you wanted better handling and keep 90% of the ride compliance I'd do the VW-Eibach sport springs that VW sells in it's accessory catalog for a couple hundred bucks - not nearly as aggressive as racing springs, leave the stock shocks, put an upper front stress bar (also called a strut tower brace) for $100 and beefier rear sway bar like mine for about $250. Installation for everything would be another couple hundred at an independent VW shop. A GTI so equipped would be totally acceptable for someone who wants a very good neutral handling car with no sway - it would hang with a lot of BMW's in the twisties.

    I absolutely love fast, stealthy little hatchbacks. When I was in the market for a new car last year I was on the wait list for a new M3. When it came right down to ordering the M3 I didn't think the M3 would have met my needs as well as an X5 and a modified GTI. I'd have been pampering that M3, worried of every little scratch and paranoid to beat on it at the track - if I took it there at all, forget about AutoXing it. Plus that M3 would be my only car (spouse has an Audi Avant that I've been banned from).

    On top of all this dump another grand in tuning that 1.8t motor and you have 230 HP and 235 lb ft of torque and an ear to ear grin. Plus this little GTI takes a whole lot of punishment without a wimper, they are built like a tank.
  • where did you see si for 16k
  • Question A:
    Assuming that you couldn't modify the car, you had to pick one and stick with it. Would you do the GTI for $19k or the Si for $16k?

    Question B:
    $19k GTI, or $16k Si + $3k in mods?

    However, since you haven't driven the Si yet, you can wait to answer.
  • You can get Si's for $16k in Los Angeles, I don't know about elsewhere. I can give you dealer info if you want.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    In Chicago they were advertised in paper at several dealers for $16,5 and dealer I discussed one with said $16K even if I took one in stock.
  • I have got to get out and test one. $16k makes it really attractive, I'll investigate what typical aftermarket performance mods would cost. One area you'd have to address that I didn't on my GTI is wheels/ tires. Every article I've read on the SI says it needs more aggressive wheels/ tires. $3k should be more than enough to address any issues. Honda aftermarket mods are plentiful and cheap.

    Do you see many SI's on the road in your area? I've seen one since they came out - they are rarer than a MINI around here.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    I have not seen one on the road. There are 5 at the dealership though, and it is a small dealership.
  • I also haven't seen many of them around wher I live either. I think I may have seen 2 on the road and one on a semi heading somewhere. That was all in the last few months. Before that, the only one I'd ever seen was the show one at the Denver Auto Show back in March. That was my first in person view of it and I immediatly disliked the styling. I'd also have to say that even at $3000 less than a GTI, it's still not a great deal. It's more than easy to spend most if not all of that $3000 on upgraded wheels and tires just to get to where the GTI is as far as wheel & Tire fitment. What was left over if any wouldn't be enough to get you much over the 160 stock hp. I'd still rather have the GTI w/ 17's and spend another $1000 for a chip and some suspension mods and I'd have a good handling, 220+ hp GTI that will take on even moderatly modified Si's.
  • $3000 on upgraded wheels and tires to match the GTI? What for? I'm only talking about driving functionality, I don't need 17" wheels.

    So say you spend $2k modifying your GTI. All you have is a front wheel driver, with no warranty, known for being somewhat unreliable, costing slightly less than a WRX, and having inferior performance.

    That is why I'm not bothering talking about mods and all that, because you can always say, "well, for just $1000 more I can..." especially in this car segment.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    GTI MSRP for 03 is $19,640 and Si MSRP is $19,000. GTI has better performance, better wheels, better crash test rating, 2 year longer warranty. GTI is more fun to drive. As far as reliability the GTI has average to above average reliability scores so you must think the majority of all cars are known as "somewhat unreliable". Is this correct? Yes, it is common knowledge that the Honda should have better reliability since Honda is one of the best for reliability.
    And this is not a WRX comparision, the GTI will at least finish number 2 out of three in a race with the WRX, GTI, and Si with the Si dead last.
  • I was in he market for a new car and so my wive took me to the dealer with check book on hand I got a very good price 16,800 with dealers feed waved BUT to any find out that the car can't be have in A/T and my wive do not drive s/t. The salesman told me that that is the reason they are not selling to well even with discounts. right now they have around 20 of them in all colors.
    Greetings from sunny Miami.
  • So, ok you don't need 17's. You can buy whatever wheels you want, but the fact remains that with the standard wheel/tire fitment, the Si does not do so well. Virtually everyone who has tested and written about the new Si has determined that it definitely need more tire under it. To each his own I guess. So, so you don't spend the $3000 on wheels & tires. You decided to spend it on upgrades. Well, for $3000 you can probably find a turbo kit to give you more power. So, now you're up to maybe 220-240hp, which by the way can be had in the GTI less than $1000. Well, guess what, now you likely need new tires & wheels. The stock fitment of 195/60-15's can hardly handle 160 hp, much less 220. Plus, you will gain a significant amount in the area of handling with a more aggressive set of tires & wheels. Hondas are good cars, and they are reliable. But, I just don't really like what they've done with the new SI. The older ones weren't bad, I would have preferred if Honda had left good enough alone and made the Si out of the current coupe rather than doing it with a hatchback that looks like a squashed Odyssey minivan. If Honda had used the coupe as a base for the Si and given it a bit more tire underneath, maybe I'd be more persuaded, but so far i am not.
  • I'm not to sure that the lack of an auto transmission has hurt the sales as much as you believe. VW also doesn't sell the GTI VR6 with an auto either and they seem to be able to sell them well. I actually think that the reason the Si's aren't selling as well as they had planned is because Honda tried to be the aftermarket for this car. They know that Civics are the most wanted car when it comes to boy-racer types who want to buy them and modify their cars. Honda attempted to do all that stuff to the car themselves and try to corner the market a bit and gain some of that dough for themselves. Like I said in my previous message, if Honda had done the same mods to a coupe version of the Civic rather than the hatchback, it may be selling better. People like the coupes and sedans better than they do the hatchbacks. Even when Honda sold the hatchbacks as regular models, the sales weren't even close to what the sedan and coupe were bringing in. Plus, for the same price as an new Si, the potential buyer has many other tempting choices. They can take thier money and buy a civic coupe and have a few thousand dollars left over to begin modifying the car. They can go over to their local Acura dealer and pick up a new RSX which has the same engine, but, in my opinion, looks better outside. They can even save up a few thousand extra dollars and buy the RSX Type-S which comes with the engine the Si should have gotten if Honda wasn't afraid of stealing th RSX's thunder. These are just the options a potential buyer has from Honda MC, this doesn't even begin to go into the options one has when looking into the entries from all the other makes in the same price range. Honda just didn't hit the mark with this one, maybe the next version will do the Si name justice.
  • Let's get one thing straight, there is no way that the new Si (Which I own) is worth $19,000. I paid $15,980.

    I don't know what you mean by "better wheels" style? It is faster, but the handling is inferior, despite the poor tires on the Si. The Civic has perfect crash test ratings, I don't know what the GTI has, but it's not possible to be better. And the shifter on the Si is much better.

    However, let me make it clear again, if both cars were $19,000, and I had to pick one, it would definitely be the GTI. What I am trying to say is that I think that for $16,000, the Si is a good deal, and very comparable to the GTI at $19,640.

    The reason I compared the WRX, is because if you spend very much modding a GTI, you will almost have been able to buy a better car in the first place.
  • This is why I don't like to have these hypothetical arguments about aftermarket upgrades, there are too many variables. In this case, there is no question that the GTI is the cheaper car to make fast.

    However, despite the poor tires on the Si, it still out handles the GTI.
  • I'm not mentioning these upgrades just for fun, I'm explaining what makes each car unique and wanted. The Si handles great and has a pretty well designed interior, but it lacks in the areas of power and wheel/tire fitment. Though having large wheels and tires may not mean much to you, there are thousands of other buyers out there that feel it is a priority. The GTI has its shortcomings as well. The GTI doesn't handle as well as the Si, but it does have the power advantage and it comes with a more agressive wheel/tire fitment that gives the car more of a sporty look. The only reason I mentioned any of this was to compare the cost of amking each car as good as the other. To make the GTI handle better, all it takes is some upgraded springs & struts and a few braces. This can all be had for around $1000. The GTI already has power and larger wheels, so that upgrade is not needed. For the Si, if you wanted to give it more power, you would spend a good deal more than $1000 and you probably still wouldn't have the power of the GTI in stock form. As far as the wheels/tires go, you may not want to get larger wheels, but it's still a good idea to get wider tires and thus you would likely need wider wheels as well. That also will cost more than $1000. This comparison doesn't just cover the GTI either, you can compare the Si to the SVT Focus, the Tiburon, Sentra SE-R and many others out there and you'd still have the car with the least power and smallest wheel/tire fitment. What this all comes down to and the main reason I posted about it is because even at $16,500, the Si still doesn't compare as well to the other vehicles in it's class since that extra money saved would have to be used just to get the Si on par with the other vehicles in its class.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    The GTI vs. Si stock is faster in 1/4 mile, faster lap times on track, faster slalom times, stops in shorter distance, is faster in 0-60 mph, has higher top speed. The increased performance of the GTI erases any handling advantage you may think the Si possesses. The Si outhandles the GTI right to last place. As far as the price being less than the $19000 MSRP that is only evidence of lack of demand. Heck, even the New Beetle Turbo S is faster than Si!
  • sunilbsunilb Posts: 407
    It seems to me that while the GTI ahead of the SI in many aspects, the SI is probably the best "compromise" out there...
    You want sporty, reliable, and good resale value? Get the SI (I think while VW's reliability is improving, it's still not as good as Honda's).

    Actually, if you look at all of Honda's cars (with the exception of the Type-R's and S2000) it appears that's what they go after-- the best "compromise". It's not a bad thing, just different.
  • GTI resale is excellent, as are most all VW's. The Passat rated tops in resale - I read it on Edmunds front page. As far as reliability goes VW has made huge strides as has a lot of other car companies. My GTI hasn't had a problem in it's first year - I think that bodes well for the future, especially considering all the upgrades I've done to it.

    I know Honda's typically have high resale value, but I doubt the SI will. For a car to have high resale it has to be popular and the SI isn't. For $16k after discounts on a $19k SI at least Honda is picking up the first years depreciation for you.
  • moparbad (msg #67) - You seemed like a fan of the Si in this message, what happened?

    inigoco (msg #76) - I missed this before, but there is no way that the GTI's wheels and tires are worth $3000 more than the Si's. That is just absurd.

    inigoco (msg #80) - I strongly disagree that the stock Si tires can hardly handle the current power.

    moparbad (msg #86) - re: lack of demand. That was not my point. I know demand is poor, the market is correcting itself. And what I'm trying to do is see if $16k is a good price point for the Si.

    sunilb (msg #87) - I agree, the Si is a great compromise.

    rickrover (msg #88) - That's true, I bought this car for less than it would have cost to get a used 2000 Si! (which they tried to get me to buy)

    So let me rephrase my question once more. Imagine, there is NO aftermarket, you are stuck with what you got. Is the GTI worth $3000 more than the Si?
  • The resale value on the VW's is really great and even better for the GTI's since they are typically the rarest and best performing VW's. Last year I traded in an '01 GTI VR6 for the '02 GTI 1.8T I currently own and I actually got a little money back. I think the prices came out about $20 different. Yes, the 1.8T is a cheaper car in the first place, but to have that kind of resale after 1 year seems pretty good to me. Muffin Man, first of all I never said the GTI's tires and wheels actually cost $3000, though it's likely not far off. Have you ever priced factory wheels? On the VW website in the accessories section the replacement wheels are about $300-$430 apiece, plus tires at about $200 apiece you get about $2000-$2500 for a set like the VW's have. Sure, you could go with any companies you want, but to get quality tires and wheels it is very easy to spend $3000 or more. That was my point, not that the GTI's setup was $3000 more, just what it would cost to upgrade the Si to larger, more aggressive shoes. As for the stock Si's tires not being able to handle all the power. Well, I have a theory about that one too. Like I said, I had an '01 GTI VR6. That car had the 205/55-16's. I had absolutely no problems spinning those tires off any start, the Trac control would intervene every time. Now, I have the '02 1.8T with the 225/45-17's and they hold the power much better than the narrower 16's I had previously. It just seems that even with less power, the Si would have a tough time getting power to the ground with even narrower tires than the GTI comes with base. The only reason I can think that the Si's tires can hold the power is because it has very little low-end power. All the power that engine makes is at higher revs and even then it's still not a lot, so the tires have an easier time controlling that kind of power. So again, all I was saying is that if a buyer decides to soup up their SI with more power, they will likely need to foot the bill for some tires as well. Now, for your final question, would I still buy the GTI over the Si barring any kind of aftermarket? Yes, I would. You say the Si is a compromise, I say the GTI a great compromise too. It has more power, is faster and is available with more options than the Si. OK, so maybe it doesn't handle as well as the Si and the transmission may not be as good, but the new 6-speed VW has is miles ahead of the current transmission, so that problem may be going away soon. I guess I'd just rather have a faster car that handles slightly worse than a great handling car that isn't as fast. This is why the aftermarket exists in the first place to make good cars better. But, yes, barring the aftermarket I would still buy the GTI, but to each his own.
  • Actually I think Honda's problem with the Si is that they did too little to try to be their own aftermarket. Ford tried to be their own aftermarket with the SVT Focus, to a seemingly greater degree than Honda, making significant changes from a stock ZX3, including the addition of 17" wheels and performance tires, and last I heard, demand was great enough that dealers are charging over sticker, not under. I don't think Honda did enough in that regard.

    I also don't think that it would sell any better necessarily if it was a coupe. If it was a good looking coupe, it probably would, but if it was a good looking hatch, it would too. It's more styling than body style, from my point of view.

  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Also, I'd like to make a suggestion for those of you with longer posts (i.e. post #90). Break your message up into smaller paragraphs. This will make it much easier for people to read. People will be more likely to read your entire message if it's easy on the eyes.

    And now, back to the subject of the Honda Civic Si vs. VW GTI. Thanks for your participation! ;-)



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