2022 Honda Civic Si vs. 2022 Hyundai Elantra N: Sport Compact Surprises

2022 Honda Civic Si and 2022 Hyundai Elantra N comparison highlights:

  • The 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is an all-new compact sports sedan ready to take on the redesigned 2022 Honda Civic Si
  • The Civic Si is cheaper, more efficient, has a higher IIHS rating, and is a more sedate commuter
  • If your goal is to buy the best-handling compact sports sedan, though, choose the Elantra N

For a long time, the Honda Civic Si has been one of the compact sports car standards. And if dealer markups are anything to go by, the 2022 model continues this legacy. However, even as this segment shrinks, more challengers are rising to take the Civic. One of these rivals comes courtesy of Hyundai: the 2022 Elantra N. And when these compacts clash, the result might not be what you expect.

2022 Honda Civic Si2022 Hyundai Elantra N
Price Range$27,300-$27,500$31,900
Engine1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower200 hp276 hp (normal)
286 hp (overboost)
Torque192 lb-ft289 lb-ft
TransmissionsSix-speed manualSix-speed manual
Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (DCT)
Curb Weight2952 lbs (base)
2961 lbs (with summer tires)
3186 lbs (manual)
3296 lbs (DCT)
0-60 MPH Time6.7 seconds (Car and Driver)5.1 seconds (manual, Car and Driver)
MPG Rating27 mpg city/37 mpg highwayManual: 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway
DCT: 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway
IIHS Safety RatingTop Safety Pick+
Crashworthiness: Good
Headlights: Good
Front crash prevention, vehicle-to-vehicle: Superior
Front crash prevention, vehicle-to-pedestrian: Superior
Child seat anchors: Good+
Top Safety Pick
Crashworthiness: Good
Headlights: Good/Poor (headlight-dependent)
Front crash prevention, vehicle-to-vehicle: Superior
Front crash prevention, vehicle-to-pedestrian: Advanced (standard), Superior (optional)
Child seat anchors: Acceptable
NHTSA Safety RatingFront crash: Four stars
Side crash: Five stars
Rollover: Five stars
Overall: Five stars
Front crash: Not yet rated
Side crash: Not yet rated
Rollover: Five stars
Overall: Not yet rated

The 2022 Honda Civic Si is redesigned with style, value, and handling, not speed, in mind

An orange 2022 Honda Civic Si drives down a country road
2022 Honda Civic Si | Honda
  • Pros: Cheaper, more efficient, higher safety rating, stellar shifter, stylish interior design
  • Cons: Slower, brake fade, the engine could be more responsive and characterful

Just like the rest of the Civic lineup, the Honda Civic Si is redesigned for 2022. That means new sheet metal, an upgraded and roomier interior, and more tech. Its drivetrain, though, isn’t entirely new: the 2022 Civic Si uses the 2021 model’s engine. And it’s slightly detuned from last year. On paper, therefore, the 2022 car is slightly slower than the 2021 model, Car and Driver says.

However, Honda didn’t leave the 2022 Civic Si’s drivetrain completely unchanged. The 1.5-liter engine has a lighter flywheel, for example, while the six-speed manual has shorter throws. In addition, while the engine makes slightly less power, it revs higher and makes more torque at lower rpm. Also, automatic rev-matching is standard for 2022—and yes, for the heel-toe purists, you can turn it off.

Some returning features are welcome, though. As before, the 2022 Honda Civic Si has stiffer suspension, bigger brakes, and a more rigid chassis than the standard car. But for 2022, the Si has Type R bushings and rear B-arms. So, while the 2022 Civic Si is more mature and not quite as fast, it still has solid handling bones.

2022 Hyundai Elantra N: The brand’s cheapest performance car packs a compact punch

A light-blue 2022 Hyundai Elantra N on a desert racetrack
2022 Hyundai Elantra N | Hyundai
  • Pros: Faster, more powerful, better seats, sharp handling, optional DCT
  • Cons: Stiffer suspension, lots of settings, louder, Civic’s shifter is still better, the interior feels cheaper in some areas, more expensive

A few years after the Veloster launched Hyundai’s N performance sub-brand, the automaker is expanding its offerings. And its newest product is also its cheapest: the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N. Admittedly, ‘cheap’ is a relative term, as the Elantra N is the most expensive trim in the 2022 Elantra lineup. However, you do get quite a lot for your money.

While the N Line trim gives the Elantra a bit more show and go, the ‘real’ N is a few steps beyond that. Firstly, it has a bigger, more powerful engine. Secondly, its optional DCT has eight speeds, rather than seven. Thirdly, thanks to additional bracing—including front strut-tower brace, triangular rear bar, and stiffer rear sway bar—the N’s chassis is even more rigid. Also, while the N and N Line both have independent rear suspension, the N has adaptive dampers.

In addition, Hyundai redesigned the front drive axle using lessons gleaned from rally racing. So, it’s not only stiffer, but lighter and stronger, The Drive says. Plus, the Elantra N has a limited-slip differential, rear spoiler, active exhaust, sportier seats, larger brakes, bigger wheels, and grippier tires.

In features, the 2022 Honda Civic Si and 2022 Hyundai Elantra N are dead even but in different ways

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Because the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N is the range-topping model, it gets some standard features that are optional on lower-spec Elantras. But then, apart from the upcoming Type R, the Civic Si is the range-topping 2022 Honda Civic model. So, both cars’ features lists are pretty stacked. However, once you dig into the details, the differences emerge.

For example, both cars have standard LSDs. But while the Civic has a mechanical one, the Elantra N’s is electronic. Its shocks are adaptive, too. Also, though the manual models have standard automatic rev-matching, getting the DCT N adds launch control and overboost. And while the Civic Si has sports seats like the Hyundai, the Elantra N’s seats are heated. Plus, it has a fully-digital gauge cluster and a bigger touchscreen.

However, the 2022 Honda Civic Si isn’t completely outclassed here. Firstly, although both sedans have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Honda uses the wireless versions. Secondly, though they both have Bose audio, the Civic Si has 12 speakers while the Elantra N only has eight. Also, the Si has a standard moonroof; only DCT Ns get sunroofs. And though its touchscreen is smaller, Honda’s compact sports sedan still has a physical volume knob.

On matters of safety

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It’s a similar story with the 2022 Honda Civic Si and Hyundai Elantra N where safety is considered. Both have extensive assortments of standard advanced driver-assistance safety features, for example. But there are some subtle differences between them.

The base Honda Civic is one of the safest sedans on sale today, and the Si inherits its IIHS Top Safety Pick+ status. Meanwhile, the base Elantra is ‘merely’ an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Admittedly, the Elantra N’s greater array of standard features and better headlights means it’s not that far behind the Civic Si. However, even if you check every option box, its child seat anchors fall behind the Honda ones.

In short, the 2022 Civic Si has a safety edge over the Elantra N, if only just.

Between the 2022 Honda Civic Si and 2022 Hyundai Elantra, Car and Driver says the latter is “most fun to drive”

Safety and features are important, but the true test of a sports sedan, including a compact one, is how it drives. And while the 2022 Honda Civic Si ranks high for driving fun, according to Car and Driver, the Hyundai Elantra N ranks even higher.

Now, the 2022 Civic Si isn’t a bad compact sports sedan. Its shifter is fluid, hefty, and delightful to row. The car’s chassis and suspension upgrades, as well as its relatively low curb weight, limit body roll, and make canyon carving thrilling, Car and Driver notes. And while its suspension is stiffer than the standard Civic’s setup, it’s more than supple enough for commuter duty, The Drive says.

However, you can’t ignore the Civic Si’s lack of horsepower compared to the Elantra N. It’s also hard to ignore the 1.5-liter engine’s “bland” nature and tendency to rev hang, though the latter is better than before, Car and Driver reports. Plus, under repeated heavy braking—like the kind you do in the canyons—the Civic’s brakes soften up too much.

Meanwhile, Car and Driver claims the 2022 Hyundai Elantra N belongs on “the sports-sedan A-list.” Sure, it has a stiffer ride than the Civic and its shifter isn’t quite as slick. Plus, the N’s rear triangular bar makes loading long objects more difficult. And it has noticeably more settings to track. But once you start driving, those complaints fall away.

The exhaust pops and crackles as you go, the steering is quick and communicative, the seats hold you tight, and the brakes are strong. Considering the differential helps the Elantra N “[eat] corners by the mouthful,” Car and Driver claims. The Drive found it as welcome and at home on a racetrack as the Subaru BRZ. Yet you could totally use it as a commuter car.

The 2022 Honda Civic Si might be playful, but the Hyundai Elantra N feels more eager to play.

Which compact sports sedan is right for you?

Picking between these cars is largely a matter of taste. The 2022 Honda Civic Si is still a solid compact sports sedan. It’s also cheaper, comfier, and subtler than the Hyundai Elantra N. If you do more commuting than backcountry exploration, it’s arguably the better choice.

However, if you want the better driver’s car, surprisingly, the Civic Si stands in second place. Those who want more ‘sport’ in their sports sedan should be better served with the N.

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