As a VW GTI owner, it's hard not to compare it to the all-new 2022 Honda Civic
Si. And, while the Civic Si comes out ahead in some instances, if I'm honest, I'd still buy the GTI over it.
With the redesign of the 2022 Honda Civic, Honda did away with the hatchback body style for the Si. For hot-hatch purists that was a big no-no. For those who appreciate the functionality and more flexible cargo stowage options, that was also a no. My husband can fit a set of golf clubs in our GTI - in addition to the normal "trunk" things. Plus, if you need more cargo space, you can pop up the cargo cover, flip down the rear seats, and make a trip to Ikea or Home Depot, packing stuff to the roofline no problem.
The good news, however, is the hatch body style will be used for the upcoming Type R. We're just sad it isn't also available for the Si.
I don't know if it's because of the body style, suspension tuning or throttle response, but the GTI comes off as the sportier model. Someone on social media asked me where the 2022 Civic Si fell on the spectrum between the regular Civic model and the Type R. My response: The Si is more of a souped up Civic than a watered-down Type R.
And that wasn't always the case.
Previous generations felt more like they were one click away from Type R status.
But this new model feels too polished. From the engine vibration to the exhaust note, there's something rough about the GTI that gives it a more connected driving experience. Then again, the GTI does deliver 41 more horsepower and 81 pound-feet more torque than the Civic Si.
Now that's not to say the Civic Si isn't fun to drive, because it is. And the fact it's only available with a manual transmission gives it a lot of street cred. It's nimble and peppy, and passing maneuvers are downright gleeful. But there's just something missing.
No heated seats
As someone who lives in a northern clime and is always (read: ALWAYS) cold, the lack of heated seats is a disappointment. At first, I thought it was just the test vehicle that didn't have them. But when I drilled into the online configurator, heated seats aren't even an option on the 2022 Civic Si. You have to opt for the EX or Touring trims if you want heated seats on any Civic.
This is a huge miss. My GTI has cloth heated seats, and they are the best thing ever. The cloth seats don't burn my legs in the summer heat, and when I activate the heated seats, they warm up the cloth quickly to the perfect temperature.
Speaking of seats, I have to say I'm also not a fan of the red-and-black checkerboard pattern on the Civic Si seats. They look like they'd be dated quickly, and the pattern doesn't carry through to the back seat. That's weird. In contrast, the plaid of the GTI's cloth seats looks classic, and the covering is both in front and back.
Where the 2022 Civic Si wins
One of the big areas the 2022 Civic Si beats the pants off the GTI is in the area of driving position. The Civic Si seats are more highly adjustable, and the design of the wheel and underbelly of the dash means petite drivers (even in a far-forward driving position) won't trap or bump their knees while moving between gas, brake and clutch. In turn, the GTI often leaves me feeling cramped and too close to the steering wheel.
I'm also a huge fan of the interior design. While you might not want the driving experience to be too polished, I'm totally OK with the up-level, attractive and, yes, polished interior styling. That honeycomb pattern covering the air vents on the dash is stunning. And the red accents for the Si add a little zip. The GTI looks plain in comparison - except for the golf ball gear shift knob. I love that gear shift knob.
In general, the Honda Civic Si looks more like a "grown up" car. That could be a hit or a miss, depending on your perspective. The exterior styling is elegant and upscale, and it looks more adult and less boy racer. In a way it's a nice compromise if you want something on the fun side of the spectrum that might not attract the attention of the police. Unless you're sporting the BMW-like Blazing Orange Pearl paint ($395), like the test car was. Then you should probably drive a little more sedately.
The bottom line on the 2022 Civic Si
I didn't not like the 2022 Honda Civic Si. It's a great little car - attractive and sporty with a little adulting thrown in. But as a GTI owner, I just like the hatchbacked Vee-Dub a little more. I'll be curious to see how the Type R turns out because the previous generation is one that would have made me ditch the GTI. The Si just, well, it just isn't enough.