2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Honda Civic Si

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The GTI offers optional Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Civic Si doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The GTI has standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Civic Si doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The GTI Autobahn’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Civic Si doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the GTI SE/Autobahn’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Civic Si doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the GTI and the Civic Si have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Honda Civic Si:

 

GTI

Civic Si

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

220

265

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

305/150 lbs.

445/224 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Honda Civic Si:

 

GTI

Civic Si

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

247

260

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The GTI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Civic Si’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The GTI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Civic Si’s (10 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Volkswagen GTI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Civic Si’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Engine

The GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 23 more horsepower (228 vs. 205) and 66 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 192) than the Civic Si’s 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Volkswagen GTI is faster than the Honda Civic Si (manual transmissions tested):

 

GTI

Civic Si

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

6.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.9 MPH

92.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GTI Automatic’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Civic Si doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

The GTI offers an optional automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. The Civic Si doesn’t offer an automatic transmission.

The GTI offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Civic Si doesn’t offer an SMG.

The GTI Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Civic Si doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GTI SE/Autobahn’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Civic Si:

 

GTI SE/Autobahn

Civic Si

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.1 inches

The GTI SE/Autobahn’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Civic Si are solid, not vented.

The GTI stops shorter than the Civic Si:

 

GTI

Civic Si

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

161 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

100 feet

109 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The GTI has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Civic Si; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The GTI SE handles at .96 G’s, while the Civic Si Sedan pulls only .94 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The GTI SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Civic Si Sedan (25.1 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 25.5 seconds @ .72 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the GTI’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Civic Si’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.8 feet).

Chassis

The GTI is 1 foot, 2.8 inches shorter than the Civic Si Sedan, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the GTI SE is quieter than the Civic Si Sedan (67 vs. 69 dB).

Passenger Space

The GTI has .9 inches more front headroom and 1.3 inches more rear headroom than the Civic Si Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The GTI has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Civic Si Sedan (22.8 vs. 14.7 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the GTI’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Civic Si’s useful trunk space.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the GTI and the Civic Si have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GTI is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Civic Si prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The GTI’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Civic Si’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The GTI’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Civic Si’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the GTI to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Civic Si doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the GTI has a standard rear wiper. The Civic Si doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the GTI Autobahn detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Civic Si doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Civic Si doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Both the GTI and the Civic Si offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the GTI has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Civic Si Sedan doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the GTI Autobahn has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Civic Si doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The GTI Autobahn’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Civic Si’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

The GTI Autobahn’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Civic Si doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its May 2018 issue and the Volkswagen GTI SE won out over the Honda Civic Si Sedan.

Motor Trend selected the GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The Civic was Car of the Year in 2006.

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The Civic was Car of the Year in 1996.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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