2022 Honda Civic Si and 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI comparison highlights:
- While Volkswagen only mildly revised the Jetta GLI for 2022, the Honda Civic Si is fully redesigned
- More expensive than the Civic Si, the 2022 Jetta GLI is faster, comfier, and has a few extra features, but it’s also not as sporty or agile
- What the 2022 Honda Civic Si lacks in straight-line speed, it makes up for in shifting acumen, handling, and fun
Compact sports sedans like the 2022 Honda Civic Si prove that fun doesn’t have to be expensive or impractical. And while the segment’s shrunk over time, the latest Civic Si still has some heavy-hitting rivals. Just like the standard Volkswagen Jetta fights the Civic, the Jetta GLI is aimed straight at the Si. So, when the two duke it out on the street, which one lands the knockout punch?
|2022 Honda Civic Si||2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI|
|Engine||1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder||2.0-liter ‘EA888’ turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Horsepower||200 hp||228 hp|
|Torque||192 lb-ft||258 lb-ft|
|Transmissions||Six-speed manual||Six-speed manual|
Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG)
|Curb Weight||2952 lbs (base)|
2961 lbs (with high-performance tires)
|0-60 MPH Time||6.7 seconds (Car and Driver)||6.1 seconds (manual, Car and Driver)|
5.6 seconds (automatic, Car and Driver)
|MPG Rating||27 mpg city/37 mpg highway||Manual: 26 mpg city/36 mpg highway|
Automatic: 26 mpg city/37 mpg highway
|IIHS Safety Rating||Top Safety Pick+|
Front crash-prevention: Superior (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian)
Child seat anchors: Good+
Front crash-prevention: Not evaluated
Child seat anchors: Acceptable
|NHTSA Safety Rating||Frontal Crash: Four stars|
Side Crash: Five stars
Rollover: Five stars
Overall: Five stars
|Frontal Crash: Not rated|
Side Crash: Five stars
Rollover: Four stars
Overall: Not rated
2022 Honda Civic Si vs. 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: compact sports sedan showdown
For 2022, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI carries over mechanically unchanged from the 2021 model. As before, it’s the top model in the Jetta lineup, and it’s only available in fully-loaded Autobahn form. However, the 2022 Jetta GLI does get some extra standard features as well as some interior and exterior styling tweaks.
Meanwhile, Honda just redesigned the Civic lineup for 2022, Civic Si included. That means new exterior styling, a new interior, and a tech overhaul. The 2021 model’s drivetrain carries over to the 2022 model, though, albeit with some scattered upgrades.
The 2022 Honda Civic Si and 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI take some similar steps to the compact sports sedan slugfest. They both have more horsepower than their base counterparts, for example, as well as larger brakes. Both also have stiffer chassis tuning as well as standard limited-slip differentials: mechanical in the Honda, electronic in the VW.
However, once you dig deeper and the rubber hits the road, it’s clear that the Civic Si and Jetta GLI have different definitions of compact performance.
The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI brings the luxury and horsepower
Before its refresh, Car and Driver called the Volkswagen Jetta GLI a “budget Audi A4” due to its luxury, styling, and refinement. And the appellation still applies to the 2022 version.
Although the 2022 GLI costs more than the 2022 Civic Si, the Volkswagen gets some features the Honda lacks. It has adaptive dampers, for example, as well as leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and wireless charging. Also, while the Civic Si’s stick-shift-only status gets a thumbs-up from enthusiasts, the Jetta GLI’s optional DSG makes this sedan more accessible.
It also makes it faster. But even in manual form, the 2022 Jetta GLI is faster than the 2022 Civic Si. Furthermore, the GLI’s engine feels punchier and livelier than the Honda’s four-cylinder, Car and Driver says. It also doesn’t hang onto revs like the Si’s engine still slightly does.
In addition, the GLI the only 2022 Jetta with independent rear suspension. So, it “actually rides better” than the standard sedan, Edmunds says. And it’s more spacious than the Civic, Car and Driver notes.
2022 Honda Civic Si sacrifices some speed for value and shifting joy
The 2022 Honda Civic Si might not be as fast as the Jetta GLI, but it outshines the Volkswagen in other areas. And that includes, arguably, standard luxury features.
Firstly, while it doesn’t have a fully-digital gauge cluster, it does have a bigger touchscreen. Secondly, the 2022 Civic Si has a 12-speaker audio system, while the GLI only has eight speakers. Also, while both compact sports sedans have extensive driver-assistance suites, the Jetta GLI isn’t an IIHS Top Safety Pick+. And for the record, the Canadian Civic Si does have heated seats.
In addition, the 2022 Honda Civic Si has some sporty one-ups over the GLI. For example, it has standard automatic rev-matching, something Volkswagen doesn’t offer even as an option. And speaking of, the Civic’s shifter moves with short, fluid flows, whereas the Jetta GLI’s “shift throws can feel long and disconnected” in comparison, Car and Driver reports.
Plus, the 2022 GLI doesn’t offer optional summer tires, while the Civic Si does. It has better seat bolstering, too. And though it’s slower, the 2022 Civic Si is noticeably lighter than the VW. That matters when the road starts twisting.
The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is a refined GTI sedan—perhaps too refined
Besides “budget Audi A4,” Car and Driver also calls the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI “a GTI with a trunk.” Nominally, that’s a good thing. But the GLI separates itself from the GTI in several ways, some good, some bad.
On the plus side, the GLI still has a volume knob, rather than going all-in on capacitive-touch controls like the 2022 GTI. And while it makes 13 less horsepower than the GTI, that also makes the Jetta more involving to drive, Edmunds says. However, its seats aren’t as supportive as those in the GTI. Also, it does have capacitive-touch steering-wheel-mounted controls, which are easy to press by accident, particularly on tight roads.
Tight roads also expose where the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI stumbles compared to the Honda Civic Si. Its all-season tires don’t grip as hard as summer ones, which hurts cornering and braking abilities. That doesn’t mean the GLI can’t canyon-carve, because it can, Car and Driver notes. But it limits the sedan’s potential.
In addition, the Jetta GLI’s extra weight makes it feel larger and less agile than the Honda. Its steering also feels lighter and less precise, Edmunds reports. And when you put it into Sport mode, the exhaust drones and the gas pedal becomes too sensitive.
The 2022 Jetta GLI is a refined compact sports sedan. But it leans just a bit too far away from ‘sport’ in favor of luxury.
Its engine is “bland,” but the 2022 Honda Civic Si “grips and handles like a sports car,” Car and Driver says
Let’s get the downsides out of the way. Besides being slower in a straight line, the 2022 Honda Civic Si has a firmer ride than the Jetta GLI. And under repeated hard braking, its pads get hot enough to make the pedal “soggy” and trigger warning lights, Car and Driver reports. Its interior is also slightly smaller than the Jetta’s cabin.
But once you turn the wheel, those drawbacks start melting away. Compared to the GLI, the 2022 Civic Si rolls less and turns in more effortlessly. Although it’s slightly wider than the VW, it handles like it’s “a foot narrower,” Car and Driver says. The Civic’s heavier, more satisfying steering also provides more feedback, Edmunds adds. And thanks in part to the grippier summer tires, Honda’s compact sedan corners and stops better.
Furthermore, while it rides more firmly than the Jetta GLI, the Civic Si’s ride is still compliant enough for commuting. Its seats are also more supportive. And despite the Jetta’s higher price tag, the Civic’s interior is arguably just as good, only not as drab, Car and Driver muses. Plus, there’s that shifter, which is a joy to use.
Which compact sports sedan should you buy?
Ultimately, choosing between the 2022 Honda Civic Si and the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI depends on driving preferences. If you favor comfort and straight-line acceleration over corner-carving capability, the Jetta is the better choice. But if you want to save some cash, row your gears, and explore some backcountry roads, get the Civic.
These two compact sports sedans hit different, but they both bring something worth experiencing to the ring.
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