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Honda Civic Si vs. VW GTI



  • rickroverrickrover Posts: 602
    I think I'd still lean toward a GTI - but who knows? I still have to get out and test an SI, $3k difference could possibly sway me toward an SI if I had no intention of modifying either car. That is if the SI is a total blast to drive stock. The SI will have to be sweeet to sway me from a stock GTI 1.8t.
  • inigoco - have you driven an Si?

    "It has more power, is faster and is available with more options than the Si."

    I don't think that more power and faster get to count for two seperate things. But it does have more power. What options do you speak of? And if you haven't sat in the Si's seats yet, I highly recommend it. I never used to pay much attention to the seats except for lumbar support and leather/cloth, but these seats are amazing.

    "I guess I'd just rather have a faster car that handles slightly worse than a great handling car that isn't as fast."

    Fair enough, it's not an easy choice, and I had trouble deciding myself. The $4000 price difference made up my mind. That is a lot of money.

    rickrover - I've never had a chance to take a GTI to the same types of roads I take my Si. But once I'm there, it's wonderful. However, I wouldn't say it's a total blast in day to day driving. Because besides blasting from stoplight to stoplight (GTI's forte), what can you do?
  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    More power and faster are easily two different things. Power can be made in many different ways and feels different when it's made differently. The Si has a VTEC system which makes the majority of it's power up high in the rev range where few people like to tread. The older Si made the same power, but at an even higher RPM, plus it had an 8000 RPM redline. Honda had complaints from some buyers about the lack of low-end power and about how the power that was made was all above 6000 RPM. So, they tuned the new Si's engine to make more low-end power and to have a lower redline. They succeded in that quest, though the additional power is still pretty meager. The Si makes the least amount of power of any of the other vehicles in it's class, i.e. the SVT Focus, GTI, Sentra SE-R, Mini Cooper S etc.

    Some people love the way VTEC works and the way it sounds. I personally would rather have more usable power than power which is made at high revs only. The Si only makes 132 lb. ft. of torque @ 5500 RPM. That is pretty low, especially for a sporty car. Torque is what will make your car quick though, so this is why I like it. The GTI makes 173 lb. ft. of torque from 1900-5000 RPM. That makes for much more usable power. Not only does the 1.8T make more torque, it also makes it at a much lower RPM than the Si. This makes for a quicker car. With that kind of a powerband, all you need to do is hit the gas and the engine takes care of the rest. In an Si, you'd have to downshift a gear and maybe 2 just to keep up. Again, it's all about what you prefer. I myself prefer the more usable, wide powerband of my GTI than the peaky powerplant of the Si. Even the 200 HP engine in the RSX Type-S still doesn't make a lot of torque. 142 lb. ft @ 6000 RPM.

    This all translates into what makes a car faster. Though the Si may be a slightly better handler than the GTI, you'd never be able to hang with it in the straights and a race betwen them would be a close one, each giving up something to the other. A few months back, I believe Motor trend even did a test between the GTI 1.8T, the Focus SVT and a Civic Si. If I can find the issue, I'll recommend it. I did, however, find a story from Road & Track, but it didn't have the GTI included. Still an interesting read though. The link for that story is Make sure you check out the lap times for all the vehicles. The Si came in 3rd in time and 3rd in average speed even though it handles great. That is not everything. The Si also has the smallest brakes, less power, and narrower tires. Anyway, I have to get going right now, but maybe I'll add a bit more later.

  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    I found a few more links where you can read up on what others say about the Si and many other cars in this class. Here on Edmunds they did a test between the Si, SVT Focus, and a New Beetle Turbo S. The link for that test is
    You can't really compare the New Beetle in this test a GTI Turbo, especially based on some of the complaints they had about the NB. Virtually everything they said bad about the NB, can't be said about the GTI because they are not the same inside or out. The only real similarities are in the powertrain. Also, about the performance of the NB. They came up with a 0-60 time of 8.1 sec. which is strange. Even VW rates the time at about 7.5s and they are conservative about it. The other two car were slower than others have said as well, but the NB had the largest gap. Many other mags have tested the car and come up with 0-60 times less than 7sec, not anywhere near 8.

    If you'd like to check some performance numbers on a huge number of vehicles, check out They have 0-60 and quarter-mile times and speeds for virtually every new car on the market and many older ones as well. There you will see what others have listed as performance number for these cars.

    If and when you read some of the articles I've given links to, you will find that the Ford Focus wins every time. I say this because I am not afraid to say that the GTI is not the best car out there. It gives up some weight and handling to the others, but I still like it. Others will like other cars.

    Though I'm not a huge fan of Ford, if I were given the money and had to pick a car that I would drive without making any changes to, it would likely be the SVT Focus. But, this is reality, and here we are able to make mods to our cars and as such, I feel the GTI 1.8T makes the best base model for such mods. You can bulk up in the handling department with some minor mods to the suspension like new springs and struts, plus add a few braces and you've got a great handler. Add a chip, intake, and exhaust and you've got a 230-240 HP GTI that will not only go very fast straight, but handle as well and you spent about $2500 total on mods. You won't get the same effect out of $2500 on any of the other models in this class. You may get more power or better handling, but likely not both and not to the degree that you would get from the GTI. Just my opinion, and everyone has their own, but this is mine.
  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    Whew, after some torrid searching, I found the article I was looking for. I was sure I had read it in Motor Trend or R&T, but it was in Car & Driver, so that's why i couldn't find it. Anyway, here is a test they did between a Civc Si, a GTI 1.8T, and a Focus SVT. You already know the winner, but we aren't here to talk about the Focus, the battle between the Si and GTI is the more interesting one here. The link is at There you go, I have left a number of articles for you all to read if you're interested in what some respected magazine testers think about the cars in question. Happy reading.
  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    This will be a short post I promise. I always seem to make long posts because I feel I have so much to say. Is it agreed that the skidpad rating of a vehicle is a pretty good indication of how well a vehicle handles? Since most every tester uses this I would say yes. Well, in the Car & Driver test link above, the GTI has a better rating than the Si, 0.86g compared to 0.84g. What most people have a problem with in the case of the GTI is that it has a lot of body-roll which is true, but that doesn't necessarily translate into worse handling just different and the numbers show it. Overall track lap times also show how the power of the GTI helps. The GTI was only 0.66sec off the pace of the best car, the Focus. Not bad for a car that handles worse huh?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    feel so different...SI feels light when you drive it, GTI feels like the Titanic. That is what they attempted to address with the 337 this year, and what they promise to rectify completely with the next gen, if you can believe the car mags.

    For power and sheer acceleration, I would have to give it to GTI of course. It feels much stronger. They both have really nice interiors, best in class.

    Point is, will VW discount GTI heavily? I don't think so, it is a star car for them. SI is down to $16K and falling, and unless you are super concerned about the market for resale, this car is finally down to a price that is appropriate for what you get. That makes it the better deal to me...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    VW has no need to discount the GTI. They sell all they need. The supply and demand are there. The Si is essentially a star car for Honda as well. Yes, the S2000 is faster, but it's also less useful, being a 2-seater and it's much more expensive. So the Si is the car they created to be the mass-market car to showcase what they could do. Well, they found that the demand wasn't there and they've had to discount the price in order to ge the demand to go up. It doesn't have so much to do with customers feeling they are paying too much for VW's and others. If that were the case, we'd see the demand drop off for them, which it has not. Plus VW kind of did do a little price adjustment for 2002. Now you can get a VR6 GTI for about $2000 less than in 2001 and the 1.8T's are about $500 less also. They did not need to reduce their prices as much as Honda in order to increase their sales, so that shows that customers feel they are getting what they paid for when they buy a GTI. This apparently isn't the case for the Si, customers felt that even $19,000(which is about the going rate for an entry level sport-compact these days) was too much to pay for the Si, so Honda was forced to offer deep incentives in order to get customers to look in their direction. This to me shows that customers feel that the Si is not the better car. Not that the GTI necessarily is, but I don't see any other manufacturers giving incentives for their sport-compacts either. I'm not necessarily disputing that the Si isn't a better handling car than the GTI, but for what you get, the Si just isn't as much of a deal.

    I'll throw out another question similar to one asked in an earlier post.
    Would you rather buy a Honda Civic Si and have $5000 in upgrades or would you buy a VW GTI 1.8T and have $2000 in upgrades? Both would have a similar end price of about $21,000-$22,000. You can buy any upgrades you want. I know what I would choose.
  • rickroverrickrover Posts: 602
    I got the dealer to knock $1,150 off the MSRP on my 02 GTI 1.8t with the Luxury Package (sunroof, Monsoon sound) and 17" wheel package about a year ago. More recently a friend of mine got $850 off an 03 GTI 1.8t with Luxury, 17" wheels and leather interior - we also got them to throw in the heavy duty rubber GTI floor mats. Both cars are from the largest VW dealer in our area - when I got mine they had a total of 3 1.8t GTI's on the lot and there were 4 total when my friend got his a couple weeks ago. GTI's fly off their lot, but they still give discounts.
  • Why do you think that that the Si beat the GTI in that article? It wasn't about the numbers and it was in spite of the crappy tires.

    I think the Car and Driver article pretty much summed up my feelings on the second page:
    "Here are our priorities for a successful hot hatch: (1) Fun to drive. (2) Fun to drive. (3) A hatchback. (4) All that other stuff."

    The Si is fun to drive, and according to Car and Driver, more fun to drive than the GTI. And to think, it finished second place despite it's tires and high price tag. At $16,000 (or less), it becomes an outstanding deal. (and in that test, they gave a 6.5 0-60 to the GTI, and an 8.0 to the Si, which is faster and slower than normal for both cars, respectively)

    I think you underestimate the driveability of the Si, which is something I enjoy every day. Even at MSRP, I think the GTI might be only a marginally better car, (not counting modability). For $4000 less, I want the Si.

    And I wouldn't spend $22,000 on either car. I don't like front wheel drive, and I don't like the torque steer that comes with it. (I bought my car because it was an amazing deal, I was actually going to buy a new MR-2) Come to think of it, the wheel of rickrover's GTI must almost rip out of his hands at every stoplight!

    I think by now we are all familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the GTI and Si, so I won't go through them again. But when I think about how annoying body roll and torque steer are, and how much a good shifter and great sports seats can improve a drive, I know that I picked the right car for me.

    Especially for $15,980 @ 4.9% for 60 months.
  • inigocoinigoco Posts: 51
    I agree with your reasoning on why the GTI didn't win that comparison, but first I'd like to comment on you. Why are you backing a car you don't even own? Especially when you've said yourself that you dislike FWD cars. What is your main purpose in backing the Si here when you don't even own either of the cars being compared here?

    Anyway, back on the subject. I've read that story time and time again so I know what you're saying. With being fun to drive being the main 2 priorities, a go-kart, Jeep, or motorcycle could have won this test if only it hadn't been limited to hatchbacks. I really wish i had a scan of the whole article because the magazine shows a lot more data than the story online. They have the lap times for each car with a break-down of what the speeds and times were at various points. Plus, they have a break down of the point and how they were scored. It gives a lot more in-depth look into each vehicle and why it scored what it did. I haven't read the actual issue in a few months and I forgot to find it last night, but I'll see what I can do.

    I just find it strange that you feel that the way they described the handling of the Civic is better than that of the GTI. Last I checked, a car that understeers and "eats it's outside tires for lunch" wasn't the best handler. Like it was said in the story, the Si is tuned for "safe stability" not track handling. Plus, don't you think that that little annoying problem of eating outside tires might have something to do with the Si having tires that are not up to the task? That being said, I'd say the Si and GTI are on an equal handling level. One has tires that are not made to handle the handling ability of the chassis and the other has more body roll than it needs. If it weren't for the shifter, the VW likely would have beaten out the Si, though it still would likely have been beaten by the Focus anyway.

    Now, onto the next section, the performance part. You're fooling your self if you believe that the Si and GTI are closer in acceleration than was stated in the story. They even said themselves the the Si is 156 lbs. heavier than the old version and it has the same horsepower and a little more torque, so you can't expect the times to change that much and they didn't. The 0-60 times of a '99-00 Civic Si are listed as 7.9 sec on So, it's easy to assume that the new Si, being 156 lbs. heavier and only a slight gain in torque would post similar numbers.
    As far as the GTI, there have been numerous tests of the GTI in all it's forms and they are all quite similar as well. The 150 HP version was tested at 7.3 sec. 0-60. The VR6 version with 174 HP and a little more weight ranges from 6.9 to 7.7. Now look at the New Beetle Turbo S which has essentially the same powertrain as the GTI except for the 6-speed tranny. The 0-60 times for that are 6.7 sec. So, again, like the Si, it's very easy to assume the actual times for both of the cars to be within a few tenths of a second of what the testers in C&D came up with. Plus, if we add in the Focus SVT, it has 170 HP, right in the middle of the Si and GTI and it's 0-60 time of 7.8 sec. is also between the Si and GTI. The reason the SVT's time is a lot closer to the Si is due to the fact that the GTI wins the torque battle quite handidly against both cars and torque is what creates acceleration.

    Now for price. The C&D test assumed that the Si would be sold at MSRP, not a massivly discounted price, so they did the test giving each car an equal grounding. You, on the other hand, are giving the Si a handicap. Many others agree that at an equal price, the GTI wins out. It just seems tha buyers are not buying that the Si is worth the same as a GTI, and for good reason. What does the Si have that the GTI doesn't? By my count, only the Recaro seats. You can get Recaros for a GTI, but you have to get the 337 Edition which also includes larger brakes, a 6-speed trans, and upgraded handling. The GTI, on the other hand has heated seats, automatic up & down windows, lower-profile wheels and tires than the Si, better brakes than the Si, traction control, a 200 watt stereo w/ 8 speakers while the Si has 120 watts and 6 speakers, standard side airbags, which are an option on the Si and side-curtain airbags which aren't even offered on the Si. This is why the GTI is more expensive than the Si. It comes down to more than just handling or straight-line speed. Buyers of GTI's get a lot more for the money which is why they are willing to pay more for the GTI than the Si. Everyone is free to have their own opinion, but the case has been made and it's easy to see why buyers would choose a GTI, but it's also easy to see why buyer would choose an Si, especially with the price difference.
  • mikosmikos Posts: 6
    but, but, but.. I used to be a die hard Honda fan up until 2000. I went German and will never go back. For the sake of this discussion.. gather your buddies together. Go to the Honda dealer and have everyone drive a new Si.. then run across the street and drive a new GTI.. oh, with the VR6 and the 6SPD..

    Now, come back to this discussion.. how many of you are still laughing from the rush you got from the GTI? How many of you are feverishly scratching your head trying to figure out how the heck you're going to afford the price difference? Oh.. but you will.. Why? Because now.. there is no comparison and you can't wait to have that rush every day.. The GTI is Gran Turismo!
  • I also agree that for an equal price, the GTI wins.

    I think we got our lines crossed somewhere back there. Because I agreed all along that the Si was not worth MSRP, and if I had to pay MSRP for both cars, I would have bought the GTI. (although I may not have said it in those words)

    Also, I do own an Si, and I made quite a few references to my driving experience in my last post. (I even wrote exactly how much I paid and my APR) I wanted a roadster, but wasn't sure I was ready to give up the convenience of 4 seats and a trunk (in the case of the MR-2) I think the GTI is a great car, but I don't think (and this is my opinion) that it's worth $3,500+ more than I paid for my car.

    This reminds me of arguments with Miatas. It could almost be described as gutless, yet it's very very pleasurable to drive. It's the best selling sports car of all time.

    Cars are not composed of numbers and features, they are complete packages. That's very important to remember. The Si can give up everything you say to the GTI, and still win a comparison, because it's just a fun car.

    The reason I argue for the Si, isn't even because I own one. It's because many people act as if the Si is the worst thing that Honda has ever done, and that's without even driving the car. I want to make sure that people give it a fair shake.
  • rickroverrickrover Posts: 602
    That's it I HAVE to get out and test an SI - this weekend for sure. The SI wasn't out when I got my 02 GTI 1.8t so it wasn't on my compare list back then. Cost was an issue though, a few thousand dollars did make up my mind on the GTI, so did the fact that it's so inexpensive to modify. The other car that made the final two on my list was a base Mercedes C230k - back then they weren't giving discounts on the C230k, a 6 speed was $25k - $26k the way I wanted with two minor options (17" wheel package and Xenons). Now my local MB dealer is discounting the 02's $3,500! If they did that last year I'd very likely be in the MB. I AutoX'd my GTI last weekend at an SCCA event, I was suprised to see how many C230k's were there - 4 or 5, they did very well. Another car that did great were the older modified Civics by the way. My GTI is a fantastic AutoX vehicle too as are Miata's and MR2's.

    I take magazine test comparisons with a grain of salt. Testing a car is one of the most subjective things anyone can do - everyone approaches it from a different persective. I'd never let a test comparison in some biased, hack magazine sway me toward a particular car. I get out there and do my own comparisons with the sales person grabbing the dash and stomping on his imaginary brake pedal for most of the test drive :-)
  • I look forward to hearing your opinion on the Si. However, I'm sure it's going to pale in comparison to your little monster.

    And my first choice for a car was an MR-2. But it's probably the most impractical car made, and it would probably have run me at least $6-7,000 more than the Si.
  • rickroverrickrover Posts: 602
    I recently tested an MR2 with the sequential shift transmission - I haven't had that much fun in a long time. The MR2 is an absolute blast to drive. It would be my first choice in a heartbeat if it weren't so impractical, no luggage space whatsoever, just some cubbies behind the seats, I need an all around car with a hatch and rear seat.

    I plan to head out to the Honda dealer this afternoon for an SI test drive.
  • jsg5jsg5 Posts: 4
    I've now test driven both the 2003 Si and GTI, and I have to say, I'm leaning toward leaving Honda after owning them for 20 years. The VW is clearly faster, at least in the around town type driving I'm likely to do, and the GTI's interior is simple and classy compared to the Civic's busyness. I can't stand that metallicized plastic console over the shifter, and for me the driving position was not that comfortable- the steering wheel requires you to extend your arms too much.
    Having said all that I'm still leery of the VWs. The Civic is a good car, and I've had great reliability with all my Hondas. How's VWs recent record? I know their past is not so hot, but things seem to be improved. Appreciate any feedback.
  • If you are going to compare the SI which is $19,000 to a $21,000 GTI why not compare the GTI to a $23,000 RSX.

    Buy what you like. You can make arguments either way for either vehicle. The SI has a better tranny but the GTI faster. The GTI has better brakes but the SI handles better. For me, at $16,000 the SI was an unbeatable deal especially when taking into account VW's iffy reliability.
  • jsg5jsg5 Posts: 4
    Not sure where you found the Si for 16K, but I'm in South Fla. and the best price I have so far is at the dealer invoice- 17,800. I was quoted 18,300 for the GTI so there's not much difference in money. Have not yet looked at the RSX, but I doubt it will be in the price range of either. A lot really comes down to personal preference- I prefer the VW, others may not. But it is the reliabilty issue that gives me pause.
  • I guess the price depends on where you are because here in GA I got my first one for $16,300 including tint and when I totalled that one I got the next one for $16,900 including fog lights, splash guards, and mats. The GTI is a nice car, don't get me wrong. In July when I bought my SI I had a chance to buy a 01 GTI VR6 GLX w/ 17k for $15,500 (kinda says something about it's resale value huh?) but VW's reliability scared me away.
  • You can buy a civic si in south florida for around 16,700 at braman honda or rick honda.
    Greetings from sunny Miami.
  • "In July when I bought my SI I had a chance to buy a 01 GTI VR6 GLX w/ 17k for $15,500 (kinda says something about it's resale value huh?) but VW's reliability scared me away. "

    Going to and looking at how much used GTIs would be worth, a GLX like you describe is worth $16.8k private party value in "fair" condition. In "good" it would be $18.1k. To get an '01 model year down to $15.5k it took a GLS in "fair" condition. Edmunds Used TMV prices were slightly lower, but still, that price you were offered almost seems like an anomaly. VW resale value is generally regarded very highly.

    If resale value was really a concern for anyone, I don't think the '02 Si has good resale in its future. If you have to give it away (well below invoice) to get people to buy a new one...

    And on the subject of reliability, while Honda may be the benchmark, besides window regulator issues, VW has been making strides in recent years, as have many other car manufacturers. So, basically, I don't see why it scared you away that much.

  • I'm with you, after driving the MR2 I was very sold, but I had promised myself never to buy anything the first time I went to a dealership.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    NHTSA website for either VW Jetta or new beetle for the last three years or so. We wil have to wait to see if they are really making the strides you refer to. In the meantime, I would go with the Honda for reliability. As far as resale, since they can't give them away new, I think SI's will become to the normal Honda low-depreciation rule. Lease one instead, and leave the problem of resale to the dealer.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • gotenks: If you do trade in value on you will see that a GLX in good condition is worth 15,900. This particular one was clean but the guy had springs on it and an exhaust. That probably drove the value down a bit. If I go and option a new GLX the price is $25,000 MSRP .. that's a drop of almost $10,000 in a little over a year. That's not good in my book. Compare that to my 2000 SI which had a MSRP of $17,500 and now almost 3 years and 33,000 miles later kbb puts it at $11,300 trade. That's only a loss of $6,000 with twice the miles and twice the age as the VW.

    My 2002 SI may not hold crazy value like the 99-00's but it should hold it just as well as a Prelude, which they had a problem selling too. A nice clean Prelude will still get good money because they are rare just like the 02 SI's are going to be. Honda's problem isn't that the SI is bad I just think they tried to sell too many of them. They shoulda taken a clue from Ford and Mazda when it comes to projected sales. Ford brought 5000 SVT's here and Mazda is bringing 2000 MS3's .. that's a more reasonable number. With the economy kinda in the gutter right now it's hard to justify a $19,500 small hatchback .. now if more people knew you could buy them for around $17,000 it might be different.

    VW"s reliability scares me away because I work for a car dealer and see them come in every day with various problems and our buyers will tell you to stay away from VW products. Plus, like I said, the 01 I was looking at had the sorry 2/24 warranty which only gives you 2 years of coverage for the thing that goes wrong on VW's the most .. electricals.
  • Actually, those resale values work out pretty closely. Basing it with the MSRP of the GTI between $23-24k (they probably went for under sticker when new though, I'm not sure. I'm not sure whether or not the Si went under sticker either), the GTI retained in the mid-60s, percentage-wise, of its value. The Si did the same.

    With the '02 Si apparantly not being as desirable as its predecessors though, is there really going to be a strong enough demand for it to keep its resale value up? The Prelude's resale value is impressive, about equal to the GTI's (about $23k-ish MSRP down to $15.5k trade-in for an '01 17k), but I still have my doubts about the '02 Si. Only time will tell, of course.

  • But the difference is that the GTI only held 60% of it's value after 1 year while the SI retained approx 65% of it's value after 2 years and twice the mileage.
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,868
    The 99-00 Si was only available for two years and was always scarce. You are comparing value, and supply/demand with quality and desireability and performance. This is a poor comparision is not really fair. Try comparing the limited edition GTI 337 MSRP $22,335 with the Si. Used 337's sell for more than MSRP new. How is that for retained value? Not a fair comparision is it? The 99-00 Si was a car that was actually popular compared to the current Si which is unpopular and difficult for dealers to get rid of.
  • Setting the 99/00 SI aside and a Civic LX 5-speed (far from rare, it is the most popular Civic model) still holds aprox 58% of it's value over the same 2 year 33,000 mile time period as the SI. Still better than 1 year of depreciation for the VW. And I have seen some very clean 00 SI's still get around $17,000, which is how much it cost when new, so the 337 doesn't impress me yet. Especially when they only sold 1500 337's vs. 30,000 SI's over a two year period.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Hondas are ridiculously good in terms of depreciation - almost nothing out there can beat them. One COULD conceivably ask whether this depreciation rate relative to the rest of the market is truly deserved nowadays...

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

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