Comparison Review: Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. Honda Civic Si

Posted on 30. Jul, 2012 by in Auto News

Remember 1985? If you've been paying attention to cars, the then-new Civic Si and Mk2 Jetta GLI were on the radar. Which is your favorite? For the 2012 model year both cars again. One of them has changed surprisingly little. The other, although it retains some choice bits, may have lost the plot.

"Neither the Golf, the Jetta is still likely to win any styling prices …"

That is Consumer Guide Rating … the Mk2 Volkswagen. The same has been said of the new Jetta. But it is clear, and then there's downright generic (white, especially in fridge). The Mk2 Jetta was no beauty, but its square lines were clearly derived from the original Giugiaro iconic golf and so were clearly a VW. The Mk6 side view might as well that its a Toyota.

But the 2012 GLI retains more of its predecessor as the essence of the current Civic Si. For one thing, the GLI body style remains the same, a four-door sedan, while the Si has been transformed from a two-door hatch a coupe, then a hatch, and then in the last two generations, a coupe and a sedan. In addition, the third-generation Civic hatch was almost as iconic as the original golf, managed with a square stern to both the eye (as a cohesive element within the car sharp, oh-so-Japanese styling) and maximize utility. The 2012 cars outside seems an unskilled knock-off of its predecessor, with a poorly executed side windows outline, less elegant flooring and little in the way of identity.

The Mk6 Jetta is 10.5 inches longer than the old one (grown on a seven-inch wheelbase). The Civic has grown a lot over the years, with nearly a foot increase wheelbase and (postulate a 1986 Si sedan, which was not) a 14-inch increase in length. Nevertheless, it is almost two inches shorter than the Jetta by shorter overhangs.

"… Inside are strictly …"

Within the GLI the taste remains the same, Mk2 Mk6. Unlike the regular 2012 Jetta is the dashboard upper squishy, but the interior is not a fancy appearance besides red stitching and a flat wheel. Highway package of the seat cushion is clearly derived from petroleum, having a rubbery texture. Reportedly, the front seats are "sport bucket," but they do not offer much lateral support.

Honda used indoors to his studies, minimalism, aesthetic, functional and dimensional. In the last two generations, but the Civic cabin has dominated by a massive instrument panel. The bi-level gauge layout is the most obvious sign that Honda innovation continues, and the number of lights as you approach the redline is very helpful. Nevertheless, the costs outweigh its benefits for this layout. The massive IP colors the entire driving experience.

Classical Civics have never been role models of intrinsic quality, but the 2012 sinking the line to a new low against the competitors. Fortunately, the SI heavily textured black cloth on the doors and seats, the mood improved. Between him and red stitching, the GLI that every inch corresponds to the interior does not seem terribly cheap. In contrast to the GLI, the SI "sport bucket" are truly worthy of the word.

"… Very spacious for the external dimensions …"

The Mk2 Jetta had perhaps the most livable backseat to the mid-80s compact sedans. The Mk6 rear legroom has just earned a mid-size sedan. Perhaps it should, as the 182.2-inch length of almost a mid-size sedan. Although the Civic is the exterior compact, the rear seat is slightly roomy enough for adults, a big change from the 1986 fastback. And the 1986 Accord Sedan, for that matter.

"… A surprisingly large trunk …"

The Mk6 Jetta trunk is actually a little smaller than the Mk2, but at 15.5 cubic feet, it is still by far the largest in the segment. The Civic controls at 12.5.

"… Strong 4-cylinder gas engines deliver lively acceleration …"

Back in 1985, a 102-hp 1.8-liter engine as a "potent." Qualified over the years, the GLI engine has won 200 cubic centimeters, eight valves and a turbo, but its 200 horsepower risks classified as weak in comparison to the 250-plus-hp fours that prevail at present the segment. Word is that VW underestimated this engine, and it feels stronger than before the official figures. A plump midrange (thanks to the turbo), querulous, something boxerish engine sound and the automated dual-clutch gearbox "DSG" transmission fixed, make lightning fast moves the 2.0T mill seems much more energetic in everyday life.

The Civic Si is one of the few other performance-oriented compressed that obtained by a 200 hp (the all-but-forgotten Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V is the third) continue. The 1944-pound original Si slid together with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder, which kicked out thanks to the rocket science of fuel injection, 91 hp (vs. the carburetor Civic 76). By 2012, the Honda engine has grown from 2.0 to 2.4 liters. Peak power is to remain just four horsepower, but with 201 more than the regular Civic 140th Torque gets a healthier bump of 139 at a stratospheric 6,200 rpm to a much more robust 170 at an easily reached 4,400. The engine still learns to change a great personality, if the "VTEC" cam into play around 4,000 rpm.

Grunt south of this brand is well below that of the Jetta. If you do not enjoy wrapping a motor, the Civic Si is not your car. If you do, then you will find a more exciting engine sound and power delivery. They also love a thing that Honda will continue to do, better than anyone else: the SI mandatory six-cog shifter feels tight still slick, positive participation as a rifle bolt, as you snick from gear to gear.

The Jetta could be larger, heavier and torquier, but the EPA, there is a slight advantage in fuel consumption. The official numbers are low 20s in town, low 30s on the highway either by car. I was not able to watch the fuel consumption in the Civic. S-Drive in the GLI trip computer generally reported mean values all the way from 22 to 32 As is often the case with his turbos, the heft of the right foot makes a big difference.

"… Well-tuned suspension components and impressive road manners …"

The 2012 Jetta GLI does not deserve this evaluation quite as much as did the 2005th The harder you go, the better it feels, with commendable composure and precision. But it does not feel particularly agile or sharp. The curb weight difference between the VW and Honda is half what it was when these weighed less than a ton, but the Civic is the lighter and lighter-feeling-car, 2,906 vs. 3,124 pounds. The VW feels bigger, partly because it is.

The VW steering is numb. The Honda is the number. The GLI wheel weights at least as it rotated. The Si is so little feeling or even a sense of orientation, that it requires constant corrections mid-curve. The standard locking differential promises aggressive corner carving, but it did not make sense to carve anything by Honda tiller. If the Si was the steering half as good as his shifter, it would make a deal maker. Instead, it is the most likely deal killer. In 1986, have not over-boosted power steering. Then again, it did not, power steering.

"The ride is firm, as you would expect in cars of German origin, but the suspensions are not compatible, even over broken pavement."

The problem with the 2012 Jetta GLI is, conversely, the more casually you drive it, the worse it feels. The suspension remains firm, but now to a fault. It's not over broken asphalt compliant. Also, the DSG transmission bumps when crawling along in traffic and aggressive downshifts when decelerating to a stop. Overall, the GLI in typical driving feels disjointed, as if they originally developed for a particular purpose, then quickly re-tuned for another. In contrast, the Si feels driven casually enjoyable and almost as boring as a regular Civic-when. Having substantially improved damping Until you take the engine over 4,000 there is little evidence of the car's performance potential.

Back in 1985, the Jetta GLI started at $ 10,510, the Civic Si at $ 8,188. Cruise, power windows and central locking were not standard on the VW, and were not on the Honda. A pop-out sunroof (remember those?) Was standard on the Honda. A conventional one added $ 350 to the VW. Over the years, the cars have a lot of standard equipment have been collected, including safety features on few or no cars back in the mid-80s, and inflation has taken its toll. The 2012 Jetta GLI starts at $ 24,515, the Civic Si at $ 23,345. Make land for the remaining feature differences (like the Honda still standard sunroof) with True Delta car price comparison tool and the Japanese automaker over $ 2,000 lower. Add a sunroof (and the other contents of the attractively priced $ 2,050 "motorway package") with the GLI and nav for both, and the price tags increase of $ 27,465 and $ 24,845, will shrink while the function setting to only a few hundred dollars, now in favor of VW. For the DSG gearbox, the Honda has no counterpart, add another $ 1,100 for the VW.

The GLI and Si were two very different cars in 1985. Get over the years GLI has larger and much more powerful, but as we have seen, its basic character has changed remarkably little. The Si also increased horsepower and won, but unlike the VW has retained only traces of past Si (in the engine, shift lever and seats) much loved. Some changes, the two cars have been more alike, but overall still very different. What are you going to do?

Volkswagen Jetta GLI with the provided insurance and one tank of gas.

Mike Ulrey at Honda Bloomfield (MI), provided that the Civic Si. Mike can be reached 248-333-3200.

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.